MLB close to signing off on Dodgers’ planned TV network

Major League Baseball has said it is close to approving the Los Angeles Dodgers’ planned regional pay-television sports channel, which is being launched as part of the club’s new local rights deal with US broadcaster Time Warner Cable.

TWC confirmed in January that a new channel, SportsNet LA, would be launched as part of a 25-year deal, from 2014 to 2038, to acquire the Dodgers’ media rights. SportsNet LA would televise the team’s games.

“That process is at a point where it’s pretty clear there will be approval of the Dodgers’ arrangement well before the 2014 season starts,” MLB’s chief operating officer Rob Manfred told the Bloomberg news agency.

The Guggenheim Baseball Partners investment group acquired the Dodgers out of bankruptcy in April 2012 and the franchise will retain full ownership of SportsNet LA through a subsidiary, American Media Productions.

TWC’s agreement allows the company to keep any profit made above undisclosed guaranteed payments to Guggenheim after channel costs and revenue-sharing obligations to MLB.

Under the league’s rules, franchises with large media revenues are expected to share 34 per cent of their local television rights with smaller teams.

The Los Angeles Times said in June that the Dodgers would retain more than $6bn (€4.4bn) from their rights deal with TWC under a “tentative” agreement with the league.

The newspaper said the settlement between the Dodgers and the league placed the overall value of the team’s 25-year contract with Time Warner at about $8.5bn.

Bloomberg said the first payment from Time Warner is scheduled for January.