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The Los Angeles Dodgers have asked a bankruptcy judge’s permission to retain Covington & Burling as special counsel in its continuing legal battle with Fox Sports over the sale of the team’s media rights. The team wants to retain the firm as “special counsel to the Debtors in connection with a potential transaction involving LAD’s rights to broadcast future Los Angeles Dodgers games on cable television,” Peter Wilhelm, chief financial officer of the Dodgers, wrote in a Dec. 1 filing. “The Debtors seek to retain Covington as their special counsel because of Covington’s extensive experience with respect to media rights issues,” he wrote, citing the firm’s representation of Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NASCAR and the U.S. Tennis Association. Fox Sports Net West 2 LLC, which operates the Prime Ticket television network channel, has objected to the team’s plan to auction itself to the highest bidder. An agreement reached on Nov. 2 between Major League Baseball and team owner Frank McCourt envisions the sale of future media rights. Fox holds the exclusive rights to extend its contract past its expiration at the end of the 2013 baseball season. In a Nov. 24 objection to the plan, Fox attorney Gregory Werkheiser of Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell wrote that the auction would put his client’s contract at risk. “Prime Ticket wants nothing more than for the Dodgers to promptly exit bankruptcy and resume their focus on baseball,” he wrote. “But that exit cannot and should not be at the expenses of Prime Ticket’s contractual and property rights.” In a related motion, Fox sought to dismiss the bankruptcy case altogether, arguing that McCourt wants to sell the media rights to generate cash “to fund his divorce settlement, lifestyle and other personal obligations,” not provide liquidity to the team. A hearing on the planned auction, and Fox’s objection, was scheduled for Dec. 7. Meanwhile, the Dodgers have sued Fox Sports, alleging that the broadcaster is interfering with its auction. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross in Delaware will decide whether the team can retain Covington. On Nov. 30, Gross approved more than $4.3 million in legal fees and costs to four law firms–two representing the Dodgers and two representing the unsecured creditors’ committee–for the three months that ended on Sept. 30. For the month of October, Dodgers’ counsel Dewey & LeBoeuf has sought an additional $2.2 million in fees and costs. Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, the team’s Delaware counsel, has asked for $186,000. The Dodgers originally asked on Aug. 23 to retain Covington but withdrew the request one day later, citing the recommendation of a court appointed mediator. In the new filing, Wilhelm said that Covington had no conflicts that would prevent its retention. Before the Dodgers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on June 27, Covington had represented the team in its negotiations with Fox over its exclusive broadcast rights. As a result, the firm received nearly $255,000 during the year before the bankruptcy filing and is owed $193,000, according to the new filing. The firm is among the Dodgers’ largest 40 unsecured creditors. Lead counsel on the case for Covington is Douglas Gibson, joined by Peter Zern. Both are partners in Washington. Billing rates, Wilhelm wrote, range from $275 to $940 per hour, with Gibson charging $830 per hour. Representatives of Covington and the Dodgers declined to comment for this story. Contact Amanda Bronstad at [email protected].

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