A U.S. Bankruptcy judge today set December 7 to kick off a two-day hearing about whether the Los Angeles Dodgers can begin marketing the team’s lucrative future local TV rights, which Fox Sports holds through the end of the 2013 baseball season. Fox already has sued the Dodgers to block any early rights sale. The network claims its regional network has an exclusive window to renegotiate a new deal as part of its current contract, and that that team is using bankruptcy protection to break that agreement. (As part of that lawsuit, Fox will ask Judge Kevin Gross to dismiss the team’s bankruptcy altogether in a hearing set for December 27.) How valuable are those TV rights? Soon-to-be-ex-Dodgers owner Frank McCourt at one time had a $3 billion deal with Fox in place before it was rejected by Major League Baseball and commissioner Bud Selig, forcing McCourt to seek bankruptcy for the team and eventually agree to sell the franchise outright. Today’s court action included Judge Kevin Gross shooting down Fox’s request to question Selig and McCourt under oath about their deal to sell the team. As part of that agreement, Selig agreed to stay out of any TV rights fight.
Meanwhile, former CNN host Larry King is among a group of investors that Beverly Hills agent Dennis Gilbert has assembled to bid to buy the Dodgers. ESPN Los Angeles reports that King, an avid baseball fan and a regular in Dodger Stadium’s Dugout Club seats, would have a small financial stake. The majority of backing is coming from Gilbert, also a Chicago White Sox executive, and two top execs from L.A.-based investment bank Imperial Capital.