Dodgers’ TV Network Will Be Approved, Baseball COO Manfred Says

Major League Baseball is close to approving the Los Angeles Dodgers’ planned regional sports network in time for next season, preserving a major part of the record purchase of the club.

“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,” baseball’s Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred said during an interview at the league’s New York headquarters.

Manfred wouldn’t give details on what remained to be cleared by MLB before the network could begin operation.

The Dodgers and Time Warner (TWC) Cable Inc. said in January that they would create SportsNet LA to televise the team’s games.

The Guggenheim Partners-owned Dodgers will retain full ownership of the network through a subsidiary, American Media Productions. Guggenheim bought the Dodgers at auction from Frank McCourt for a record $2.15 billion.

Time Warner Cable Inc. has a 25-year agreement that allows the company to keep any profit made above undisclosed guaranteed payments to Guggenheim after network costs and revenue-sharing obligations to MLB.

The New York Post, citing people it didn’t identify, said in March that Guggenheim could lose as much as $1 billion to baseball’s revenue-sharing plan because of the way the deal was structured.

The first payment from Time Warner is scheduled for January. Payments would continue until 2038, stopping only in the event of a baseball labor dispute, according to the terms of the agreement.

To contact the reporters on this story: Scott Soshnick in New York at ssoshnick@bloomberg.net; Peter Schwartz in New York at pschwartz21@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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