New York -- Yes, Time Warner Cable has interest in Los Angeles Dodgers media rights -- should they become available.
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 Thursday. TWC wrested the Lakers' rights from KCAL-TV and Fox's FS West in February,
Rone called the Dodgers "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 on Wednesday, 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. There have been reports indicating that as part of the sales settlement, which has yet to be approved by the bankruptcy court, the club's media rights could be auctioned off separately. Motions to that effect have not been filed in the court, while other reports indicate that the winning bidder for the club will decide its future media rights.
Fox -- the holder of national MLB regular-season and playoff rights, including the World Series and whose RSNs present games from 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 still pending lawsuit suggests."
Asked on the "All Sports are Local" panel to step to the plate about the Dodgers, Jeff Krolik, executive vice president, 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.
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