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Dodgers sued by Fox Sports over TV rights sale

Fox Sports is entering the tug of war between Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and the MLB by suing the troubled franchise.

September 28, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Fox Sports is entering the tug of war between Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and Major League Baseball by suing the troubled franchise.

Fox Sports owns the television rights to the Dodgers. The lawsuit claims that Fox Sports also owns the negotiating rights to those TV rights through 2012. McCourt has been trying to cut a new deal with Fox to save the team from bankruptcy.

In the filing Tuesday, Fox Sports Net West asked a Delaware bankruptcy judge to reject any proposed sale of the Dodgers' TV rights that does not abide by the terms of the current contract.

The complaint also seeks unspecified damages. The lawsuit claims the Dodgers already have violated the current Fox contract in part by sharing confidential broadcast rights information.

Originally, McCourt did try to craft a deal with Fox Sports, but MLB stepped in and stopped that process. MLB is also trying to get the courts to force McCourt to sell the team.

In the complicated situation that continues to gets more tangled by the minute, MLB is on one side, Fox Sports is on the other side, and McCourt is stuck in the middle. On top of it all, McCourt and his estranged wife Jamie McCourt are still trying to figure out who owns what in the Dodgers empire.

The Dodgers sought bankruptcy protection in June, blaming MLB Commissioner Bud Selig for refusing to approve McCourt's proposed multibillion-dollar TV deal with Fox Sports.

The league has said that the Dodgers' plan to sell television rights to future games without league approval as part of its bankruptcy reorganization is "dead on arrival" and would spell the end of the ball club. League attorneys argue that such a sale would breach the Dodgers' existing contract with Fox Sports, leaving it subject to substantial legal claims, while also providing grounds for termination from the league.

On the other hand, Dodgers spokeswoman Lyndsey Estin said in a statement that the team has "fully complied" with the terms of the current contract and awaits court approval for a television rights sale that would "enable the Dodgers to emerge from bankruptcy on a solid financial footing."

Meanwhile on the field, the Dodgers are wrapping up a tough season. Tuesday night, they were winning by three runs in the 10th inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Dodgers, however, lost the game 7-6 when the Diamondbacks' Ryan Roberts scored a grand slam.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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