In L.A., Joe Flint reports Liberty Media is "acquiring 27% of cable television operator Charter Communications" for $2.62B. The deal is "significant because it marks the first time in almost 20 years" that Liberty Media Chair John Malone has had "ownership in a U.S. cable operator." Malone, whose company owns the Braves, is "joining Charter's board at a time when cable companies are becoming increasingly vocal about the rise in programming costs, particularly sports." Malone "too has recently complained that sports rights are out of control" (L.A. TIMES, 3/20). Morgan Stanley analyst Benjamin Swinburne said that Malone "could help Charter negotiate more aggressively by dropping weak channels or pushing for sports networks to be offered in separate pricing tiers" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 3/20).
FATHERS' DAY: In San Diego, Matthew Hall reports high-level execs from Time Warner Cable and FS San Diego yesterday met in N.Y. to "discuss an impasse that has kept 185,000 televisions dark in San Diego County during Padres games" since the start of the '12 season. Few details emerged about "what was said, who was there or what might happen next" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 3/20).
FEELING PUNCHY: In Chicago, Fred Mitchell reports Comcast SportsNet Bulls analyst Kendall Gill has been “removed from on-air duties after being involved in a physical altercation with Big Ten Network analyst Tim Doyle” yesterday. The incident “occurred after a taping of ‘Sports Talk Live’” in the CSN newsroom. CSN in a statement released last night said that Gill will “be off the air at least temporarily while the matter is being investigated.” Gill today said that he was “unable to talk about the incident.” He added, “We have to let everything play out” (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 3/20).
WINDS OF CHANGE: Blogger Ed Sherman reported the lineup at ESPN Radio 1000 Chicago "has been shuffled," as local hosts Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman are "moving from mid-morning" to 2:00-6:00pm CT. Also, Carmen DeFalco and John Jurkovic "will shift" to 10:00am-2:00pm. The station's "new addition" will be an hour of Colin Cowherd’s national ESPN show, airing from 9:00-10:00am. Gone will be ESPN's show with Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Russillo, which "currently airs" from 1:00-2:00pm on the station (SHERMANREPORT.com, 3/19).