Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times reports that Frank and Jamie McCourt may settle soon. That’s the good news. The bad news — or, at the very least, the uncertain news — is that the settlement may once again involve a scenario in which part of the payoff to Jamie comes in exchange for Frank making a new deal with FOX for the team’s broadcasting rights. This could be a problem.
Why? Because last time that came up, Bud Selig rejected the notion. The reason, it seems, was because the deal apparently had FOX lending McCourt money in exchange for a discounted broadcast rate. This new deal, Shaikin reports, would be a bigger, longer broadcast deal — Shaikin says $3 billion over 20 years — that more closely reflects the market rate for Dodgers telecasts.
Yet, Shaikin says, it’s not certain that Selig would approve the deal. And indeed, he could again reject it, possibly with the intent of squeezing McCourt out. And if that happens many in the game think that McCourt would sue Selig, which would be seventeen kinds of ugly.
It seems to me that it could be more than wanting to squeeze McCourt out that would animate Selig to reject the deal. Rather, it could be that baseball would really, really like a marquee team in a major market to do what the Yankees, Sox and Mets have done and form its own cable network someday. If FOX had long term rights, that couldn’t happen. We haven’t seen that level of meddling in TV deals by the commissioner’s office before, however, so maybe that’s just too pie-in-the sky.
Either way, it seems that the endgame is near. Or, if Selig decides to get tough, the end of the first chapter of an even longer game is near.