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Indians sell TV network to Fox Sports Media

CLEVELAND (AP) - The Cleveland Indians sold their regional TV sports network and telecast rights for Indians baseball games to Fox Sports Media Group, in a deal announced Friday.

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Fox Sports Media Group said it will have the exclusive long-term local telecast rights for the Indians.

While no financial terms were released, The Plain Dealer reported that Fox Sports is paying an estimated $230 million for SportsTime Ohio and $400 million over 10 years to broadcast the games.

Since the 2006 season, the team's games have been on SportsTime Ohio, a Cleveland-based regional sports network created by Indians owners Paul and Larry Dolan.

The Dolans had hoped that owning their own network would give the team more revenue and allow them to control programming much like the New York Yankees' YES Network and the Boston Red Sox's New England Sports Network.

Paul Dolan said in a statement Friday that the sale of SportsTime Ohio will strengthen the franchise and help its ability to build competitive teams.

Fox Sports Media Group, which is owned by News Corp., already owns 20 U.S. regional sports networks. News Corp. in November said it was acquiring a 49 percent stake in the Yankees' YES Network.

The addition of rights to Indians games gives Fox Sports Ohio adds to its lineup of the Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Cavaliers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Columbus Crew, Xavier Musketeers, and Cincinnati Bearcats.

SportsTime Ohio also has carried Mid-American Conference football and basketball and high school sports.

Whether the two networks will be combined into one isn't clear.

``The acquisition of SportsTime Ohio solidifies our business in Ohio,'' said Jeff Krolik, executive vice president of Fox Sports Networks.

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