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BASEBALL EXTRA

Murdoch Confirms His Interest

Dodgers: Media mogul says price is about $350 million, denies wanting to buy Lakers.

May 15, 1997|DAVID HOLLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

TOKYO — Media mogul Rupert Murdoch on Wednesday confirmed his bid to buy the Dodgers and said reports of a $350-million price tag are about right.

"We are interested in the Dodgers," Murdoch said in response to questions at a Tokyo news conference called to announce developments in his Japanese digital television venture known as JSkyB.

Murdoch met with Dodger owner Peter O'Malley to discuss the possible deal "several weeks ago," he said. "We've had several meetings, and I believe he has [met] with other possible investors too."

The reported price of about $350 million "is approximately what Mr. O'Malley and I have been talking about," Murdoch said.

Murdoch denied rumors that he is interested in buying a stake in the Lakers and said he hadn't tried to buy the Angels when they were on the block. Murdoch has made sports broadcasts a key part of his global television efforts, and his purchase of the Dodgers, if concluded, will probably play a role in the competition for viewers in Japan and elsewhere.

"If we are successful in buying them, we look forward to bringing them to Japan to play the Giants," Murdoch said. The Tokyo-based Yomiuri Giants are Japan's most prominent professional baseball team, and any such game would attract great interest here.

The Dodger-Giant comment seemed intended more as a friendly quip to a primarily Japanese audience than a serious plan.

But thanks largely to the success of pitcher Hideo Nomo, the Dodgers enjoy high visibility and a wide following here, and there are many ways ownership of the Dodgers could fit into a business plan for promoting JSkyB.

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