SBD/20/Leagues Governing Bodies

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              NBA owners will vote Monday to "void the final three
         years" of its CBA, "setting the stage for a potential
         lockout at the end of the season," according to officials
         cited by David Moore of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS.  The
         league's Board of Governors will officially meet in Dallas
         on Monday, and each of the league's 29 teams received the
         report by the Labor Relations Committee appointed by NBA
         Commissioner David Stern.  The 17-page document "strongly
         recommends the owners exercise a trigger clause" to re-open
         the CBA and the "owners are expected to embrace that
         recommendation."  League officials have "canvassed clubs" on
         the vote and "indicate that at minimum of 21 or 22 teams" 
         will vote to re-open.  A simple majority of 15 votes is
         required to re-open (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 3/20).  NBPA Exec
         Dir Billy Hunter told USA TODAY's Greg Boeck that he expects
         owners to vote to re-open the CBA: "This doesn't come as a
         surprise to me" (USA TODAY, 3/20).  
              WHAT THEY WANT: On ESPN SportsZone, David Aldridge
         writes that league "[p]eople I've talked to in the last
         couple of weeks don't sound like they want to crush the
         union or force huge player concessions.  They sound like
         businessmen who want to make a deal that's good for them. 
         But not one that's horrible for the players."  Among issues
         owners "have to have relief on" include reducing the
         percentage of income spent on players salaries; redoing the
         rookie cap and three-year contract for draft picks, and
         modifying the 20% rule where salaries rise a maximum of 20%
         over the previous season (ESPN SportsZone, 3/18).

    Print | Tags: ESPN, Leagues and Governing Bodies, NBA, Walt Disney

              The Fox Group's purchase of the Dodgers "is the latest
         in a string of notable programming buys by entertainment
         conglomerates that are changing the face of the business,"
         according to Sallie Hoffmeister of the L.A. TIMES.  Across
         the "spectrum of entertainment, companies have been paying
         what on the surface appear to be irrational prices for
         signature products that can break through the clutter of
         consumer choices created by new satellite, digital and
         internet technologies" (L.A. TIMES, 3/20). In DC, Heath &
         Farhi write that the Dodgers may be Murdoch's and MLB's
         "ticket to the largely unexploited international market and
         its billions of potential viewers.  Murdoch owns satellite
         TV systems reaching baseball-hungry markets in Latin
         America, Japan and Asia."  Former MLB Commissioner Peter
         Ueberroth: "Within another three years, all teams will be
         owned by major corporate entities, most of whom will be
         associated with some media company."   Rick Burton, Dir of
         the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the Univ. of OR:
         "Sports is a global battlefield ... and the next
         evolutionary step is the international network.  Murdoch
         someday is going to be able to offer any game, any where,
         any time of day" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/20). In N.Y., Steve
         Zipay writes the "wave of new media and entertainment
         emperor/owners continues to change the shoreline of
         professional sports" (NEWSDAY, 3/20).  On "Market Wrap,"
         Jerry Cobb said that media companies acquiring sports teams
         is "becoming increasingly common, because the economics of
         sports and the needs of broadcasters are creating a marriage
         of convenience."  Cowen's Gary Farber: "The cable industry
         spends approximately $6 billion a year on programming alone. 
         By buying sports properties, it's essentially buying the
         programming, but rather than leasing it, they're going to
         own it."  Farber: "It's an entree to so many under-leveraged
         businesses.  Besides just the actual real-estate involved,
         there's the brand that it creates, brand awareness, there's
         substantial merchandising opportunities and corporate
         sponsorship" (CNBC, 3/19).  In N.Y., Jon Elsen writes on the
         growing trend and adds, "So far, buying sports has worked
         out well for the media giants" (N.Y. POST, 3/20). Former
         Dodgers Owner Peter O'Malley, on approaching the various
         media conglomerates' interest in MLB: "If I was baseball,
         I'd sit them down all day to discuss it -- ask them,
         encourage them.  What needs to be done?  Communications. 
         Kids' programs. International telecasts" (L.A. TIMES, 3/20). 
              CONFLICT: With Murdoch holding national broadcast
         rights to MLB as well as cable TV rights to 22 of MLBs
         teams, some raise the question of potential conflict of
         interest.  But Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said, "We
         live in a new world.  Obviously every sale will be looked at
         in regard to conflicts of interest.  I thing there are a
         number of examples of baseball owners being partners in
         other ventures.  The thing that does remain the same is that
         you can't have ownership interest in more than one club." 
         In N.Y., Bill Madden: "In other words, baseball is resigned
         to the fact that, by going corporate as it has, there is no
         avoiding entangling alliances involving its owners" (N.Y.
         DAILY NEWS, 3/20).  In DC, Thomas Boswell quotes NFL
         Commissioner Paul Tagliabue on media ownership of sports
         teams: "The ownership of an NFL team by a media conglomerate
         or a media owner would present a conflict of interest in
         competitive situations.  You're better off dealing with the
         networks directly.  We always want our outlets to have but
         one interest.  That might be compromised."  Boswell says
         that MLB made its decision on Murdoch based on "only two
         considerations," the $311M franchise fee and the fear of an
         antitrust lawsuit (WASHINGTON POST, 3/20).  In Philadelphia,
         Stephen Seplow writes under the header, "Murdoch Deal: Did
         Someone Say 'Conflict Of Interest?'" (INQUIRER, 3/20).  

    Print | Tags: Anheuser Busch, Leagues and Governing Bodies, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB, NFL

              In an "unexpectedly one-sided vote," MLB owners
         yesterday "overwhelmingly approved the purchase" of the
         Dodgers by Rupert Murdoch's Fox Group for "about" $311M, the
         "most ever paid for a professional sports franchise,"
         according to Newhan & Hiltzik of the L.A. TIMES.  The vote
         "puts one of baseball's most storied ballclubs in the hands
         of one of the world's most unsentimental and pragmatic
         businessmen."  Despite "rumors that Murdoch's aggressive
         business practices might stir up serious opposition to the
         deal from other owners," only the Braves and White Sox voted
         against the transaction, while the Mets abstained.  Some
         owners were concerned over whether Murdoch "would comply
         with bylaws requiring that" overseas rights to all games be
         negotiated by MLB, not the individual clubs; whether he
         would "bid too aggressively for top players" and if he would
         use his cable deals with 22 teams to "impact the local
         revenues of those clubs."  But the Fox Group "agreed to
         several changes" in its deal with MLB, assuring even Fox's
         "long rumored ... opposition," including Padres Owner John
         Moores and Giants Managing General Partner Peter Magowan. 
         Even Disney, which was expected to abstain, approved the
         deal (L.A. TIMES, 3/20).  Magowan: "They did a good job
         answering our questions" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/20).  News Corp.
         President Peter Chernin, on owners' fears that Fox would use
         its 22 local deals to its advantage: "We just sort of
         explained to [other owners] the way these businesses run. 
         That we have so much money invested in Fox Sports Net, that
         we're not going to do anything to jeopardize that by playing
         around with the Dodgers" (CNBC, 3/19).  In Milwaukee, Tom
         Haudricourt writes MLB owners "decided it's best not to bite
         a hand that feeds them" (JOURNAL SENTINEL, 3/20).      
         ESPN's Tim Kurkjian: "A lot of owners ... got the idea that
         this isn't necessarily Rupert Murdoch who is buying the
         Dodgers, it's more the Fox Group, which has a very good
         relationship with baseball" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 3/19).
              THE PLAYERS: In L.A., Jim Newton writes, "Quietly but
         with characteristic determination, Murdoch is burrowing into
         the fabric of Los Angeles, joining its most powerful circle
         of insiders."  But while others are "long steeped" in L.A.'s
         business and political culture, Murdoch is  a "bruising,
         right-wing outsider" (L.A. TIMES, 3/20).  Also in L.A.,
         James Bates profiles Chernin and Chase Carey, Murdoch's "top
         two lieutenants," who have "survived and flourished in the
         mogul's Darwinian management culture."  While Carey is
         "somewhat introverted, seemingly more comfortable behind the
         scenes," Chernin is "more comfortable ... mingling with
         Hollywood talent, listening to pitches and making public
         appearances" (L.A. TIMES, 3/20).
              NO TCI INTEREST? While TCI's Liberty Media, partners in
         the Fox Sports RSNs, once had an option to participate in
         Murdoch's purchase, Liberty Media President Robert Bennett
         said they "waived that a while back."  He did not know if
         such an option "might arise again" (DENVER POST, 3/20).
         "traditionally" have fewer games on local TV than any other
         team in MLB, but with the Fox Group now in charge, "that is
         going to change," according to Larry Stewart of the L.A.
         TIMES.  The number of cable telecasts will jump from 40 this
         season to 80 in '99.  Fox made that announcement Thursday,
         one day after the settlement of a lawsuit filed by KTLA
         against Fox and the Dodgers last year.  The "settlement
         allows for more cable games."  All 40 Dodger cable telecasts
         will be on Fox Sports West 2, but in the future, some games
         "also could be carried on Fox Sports West."  KTLA will carry
         48 over-the-air games (L.A. TIMES, 3/20)....Dodgers
         President Bob Graziano said that "any other changes, such as
         more signage at Dodgers Stadium and installation of luxury
         boxes will be gradual" (Hal Bodley, USA TODAY, 3/20).   
              NOTES: In L.A., Bill Plascke notes that Murdoch was not
         present at the announcement, as he was in London on
         business, and adds, "Nothing to do now but get used to it." 
         Plascke: "One of our last remaining treasures wasn't simply
         sold Thursday, it was swallowed whole" (L.A. TIMES,
         3/20)...In Chicago, Jim O'Donnell writes that White Sox
         Chair Jerry Reinsdorf's vote against Murdoch "comes off as a
         recalcitrant, stubborn move made with little apparent
         upside."  O'Donnell: "For Jerry Reinsdorf, is the end of his
         reign as an influential sports power man now clearly -- and
         voluntarily -- in sight?" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 3/20).

    Print | Tags: Atlanta Braves, Cablevision, Chicago White Sox, ESPN, Leagues and Governing Bodies, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB, New York Liberty, New York Mets, San Diego Padres, Walt Disney

              After two seasons of "battling poor attendance and
         losing money," the ABL Glory will not return to Atlanta next
         season, according to Celeste Whittaker of the ATLANTA
         CONSTITUTION.  The team will move to Nashville, Tampa or St.
         Louis, with a decision by April 1.  ABL CEO Gary Cavalli:
         "The bottom line was just so bad.  We have lost a tremendous
         amount of money down there."  The team averaged 2,780 its
         first season at Morehouse Arena and 3,898 in its second
         year, but "much of its wasn't paid."  The league "will not
         retain anybody from the team's front office."   Whittaker:
         "The Glory suffered from a lack of overall marketing. 
         Despite the big local names, the players didn't make many
         local appearances" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 3/20).  

    Print | Tags: Leagues and Governing Bodies
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