SBD/20/Leagues Governing Bodies

DODGERS SALE, PART II: MEDIA INTERESTS, TALKS OF CONFLICT

          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).  

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