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Dodgers sale: No sneaky pre-deal with Time Warner by new owners

It doesn't say Time Warner Cable.
It doesn't say Time Warner Cable.
Grant Slater/KPCC

I caught wind of some rumors about a week ago that the Dodgers' new owners, Guggenheim Baseball Partners, led by Magic Johnson and Guggenheim Partners CEO Mark Walter, might have done a sort of pre-deal with...somebody for the team's future broadcast rights. It appears that the rumor was just that. Here's Bill Shaikin from the L.A. Times (note than Fox has the current broadcast deal):

Under its settlement with the Dodgers, Fox had the right to challenge any sale in which rival Time Warner Cable was involved. The Dodgers already had told the court that TWC was not involved, but Fox asked for assurances from the new owners.

According to Thursday's filing, the new owners would state for the court record that TWC is not directly or indirectly funding the purchase of the Dodgers and that no "formal or informal agreements have been reached with TWC to telecast [Dodgers] games for the 2014 MLB season or beyond." U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross would then include that language in his order approving the sale.

The obvious issue here would have involved Time Warner providing a portion of the $2.15-billion sale price as a down-payment on what could be a $5-billion future broadcast deal. That would put TWC on the inside track, keeping Fox out of the bidding. 

Again, it looks like the rumor, which had me digging around to find out if Guggenheim had put recent hire Charles Fisher — an investment banker specializing in media — on the broadcast deal as part of the overall development of the Magic/Guggenheim's bid for team, doesn't hold up. 

This does leave open the possibility that the Dodgers' new owners could create a regional sports network, along the lines of the New York Yankees YES Network.

UPDATE: Following Shaikin's Twitter feed (@BillShaikin), there are some lingering issues holding up the court's decision tonight. They seem to have something to do with the Dodgers retaining a court-appointed mediator after the team exits bankruptcy.

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