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TURNER MAKES "RESTRAINED" APPEAL AGAINST MURDOCH IN ST. PETE
Published March 19, 1998
Braves Owner Ted Turner "wasted no time beginning his assault" on potential Dodgers Owner Rupert Murdoch, addressing a group of MLB owners Wednesday in St. Petersburg "on why the head of the Fox Group shouldn't be allowed into baseball," according to I.J. Rosenberg of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. Rosenberg: "It was a restrained attack, no fiery speech from the Time-Warner vice chairman but instead a five-minute synopsis of why his rival Murdoch wouldn't be good for baseball." After the meeting, Turner followed the guidelines of Acting Commissioner Bud Selig in not talking publicly until after today's vote on the matter: "It's not that I don't want to talk. I just got to keep quiet right now." The Dodgers sale requires approval from 12 of 16 NL teams and 8 of 14 AL squads. Turner has "two votes in his camp," coming from the Padres and Giants, "meaning he would have to persuade two other clubs to say no." Rosenberg writes, "This is not likely to happen," as Turner "has little, if any influence among the game's power brokers." Rockies Chair Jerry McMorris, on today's vote: "It's going to be very, very close" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 3/19). USA TODAY's Hal Bodley writes that "one theory" on Selig's gag order is that if the sale is not approved, "public comments might be used in litigation" (USA TODAY, 3/19). COUNTING THE VOTES: DAILY VARIETY's Ray Richmond writes that in addition to the Padres, Cubs and Giants, both the Astros and Marlins are "said to be particularly vulnerable to Turner's anti-Murdoch venom" (DAILY VARIETY, 3/19). But in N.Y., Bill Madden writes the Dodgers sale is expected to win "overwhelming approval." One "high-level" MLB official: "Do you really think we're going to vote down baseball's biggest benefactor?" (Bill Madden, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/19). THE QUIET "MOUTH FROM THE SOUTH"? One member who attended yesterday's meeting said Turner "made his points that he's against [the sale to Murdoch]. ... There were no real fireworks. I've been to far more inflammatory sessions than this one." The session lasted an hour-and-a-half. Owners "will get another chance Thursday to express their views" before the sale is put to a vote (N.Y. TIMES, 3/19). CUTTING TO THE CHASE: In L.A., Ross Newhan writes that Fox TV CEO Chase Carey, "working at times in conjunction with [MLB] lawyers, met throughout the day and evening Wednesday with several concerned clubs." They "agreed to small changes ... in the language of the agreement that Fox has made with baseball (separate from the sales agreement with the Dodgers), strengthening assurances the Murdoch organization would protect the Dodger image and abide by all baseball regulations, particularly those governing international and local telecasts" (L.A. TIMES, 3/19). FALLOUT: Turner's appearance in St. Petersburg was featured on CNN's "Moneyline" and CNBC's "The Edge," "Market Wrap" and "Business Center." Ladenburg-Thalmann media specialist Porter Bibb, who wrote a biography on Turner: "Turner and Murdoch have been going at it for quite a long time. ... Both of them are very emotional, very competitive individuals, and they both respect the fact that of all the people in media and entertainment, these are the two guys who have taken their businesses globally further and faster than anybody else in the world." CNBC's Garrett Glaser reported that Bibb said that "if Turner loses in Florida and Murdoch is approved ... a new template of corporate sports ownership will be established" ("The Edge," CNBC, 3/18). USA TODAY's cover story profiles Turner and Murdoch, as David Lieberman writes the "feud could explode -- and possibly have a lasting effect on sports and business -- if Turner gets his way" (USA TODAY, 3/19). In Atlanta, Jeff Schultz: "In some ways, the Turner-Murdoch feud has typified baseball's infighting for years. The new owner should fit right in" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 3/19).