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TWC to Take a Swing at Dodgers Media Rights

11/14/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

New York — If media rights to the Los Angeles Dodgers
come up for grabs, Time Warner Cable will be in the fray.

David Rone, president of TWC Sports, which is scheduled
to tip off a pair
of Los Angeles Lakers-
centered regional
sports networks in the
City of Angels next October,
was asked about
the MSO’s interest in
obtaining the ballclub’s
rights during a panel
at the “Sports Media &
Technology 2011” conference
here last week.
The No. 2 U.S. MSO
wrested the rights to the
National Basketball Association’s
Lakers from
KCAL-TV and Fox’s FS
West in February.

Rone called the
Dodgers, whose games
now air on Fox’s Prime
Ticket network, “great
summer programming”
and rights the RSNs
would be “interested in
if the opportunity presents itself. Conceptually, we’re absolutely
interested.”

Rone’s remarks came a day after Melinda Witmer, executive
vice president and chief video and content officer,
Time Warner Cable, declined to comment when asked at
the Sports Business Journal-Sports Business Daily event
last Wednesday (Nov. 9), whether the MSO had interest
in buying the Dodgers — presumably as a means to
secure its rights.

Embattled Dodgers owner Frank McCourt has agreed
with Major League Baseball to sell the club through the
U.S. Bankruptcy Court, a process that would be led by the
Blackstone Group. Reports have indicated that as part of
the sale settlement, which has yet to be approved by the
bankruptcy court, the club’s media rights could be auctioned
off separately. At press time, motions to that effect
had not been fi led in the court. Meanwhile, other reports
indicated that the winning bidder for the club will decide
its future media rights.

Fox Sports — the holder of national MLB regularseason
and playoff rights, including the World Series, and
whose RSNs present the games of 14 MLB teams — has
indicated that it means to protect its contract with the
Dodgers.

“We fully support a change in ownership of the Dodgers,”
Fox said in a statement earlier this week. “In that
process, Fox has rights that cannot be violated, as MLB
has stated. Those rights were negotiated, paid for and
approved by MLB. We will take all necessary steps to
aggressively protect and defend those rights, as our stillpending
lawsuit suggests.”

Asked on the “All Sports Are Local” panel to step to the
plate about the Dodgers, Jeff Krolik, executive vice president
of Fox Sports Network, echoed the above position,
noting that Fox has “a valid contract,” and the programmer
“can’t imagine a set of circumstances that would violate
that arrangement.”

Krolik added that Fox will “see what happens going forward”
with the Dodgers.

September