NY Times:

News Corporation is on the verge of acquiring up to 49 percent of the YES Network from the Yankees and their partners, according to three people familiar with the negotiations. The purchase price for the noncontrolling stake is based on a valuation of the channel at slightly more than $3 billion.

Although News Corporation prefers to have 100 percent ownership of its regional networks, it would be able to share in the profits of YES. And according to the people familiar with the discussions, who spoke late last week, the deal would provide News Corporation a route to eventual control of YES — an option would exist in three to five years for the company to increase its investment to as much as 80 percent. But at that point, the price would be based on a valuation of at least $3.5 billion.

Through their holding company, Yankee Global Enterprises, the Yankees own 34 percent of YES; another 40 percent is owned by Goldman Sachs and Providence Equity, and the remainder is held by some former owners of the Nets, who operate under an entity called Community Youth Organization.

At some point the Yankees would have to sell some of their stake for News Corporation to reach 80 percent. That decision would rest with Hal Steinbrenner, the team’s managing general partner, who succeeded his late father, George, as the family member overseeing the team. Since YES’s start nearly 11 years ago, Yankee management has exercised control over the pro-Yankee tone of YES; if News Corporation acquires the majority of the network, YES could turn into a more conventional, less-biased sports network.

The deal could also include other payments to the Yankees, including higher rights fees.

Times must be tough.