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Still One Dodger Holdout at Midseason

July 09, 1999|LARRY STEWART

Media One, a cable operator that serves about 500,000 of the 3 million cable households that get Fox Sports West 2 in the Los Angeles market, will not be showing Dodger telecasts any time soon.

Four major cable distributors have been at war with Fox over a surcharge Fox has levied for an expanded Dodger schedule--an increase from 40 telecasts a season to 80--but three of the companies have either reached an agreement or are close to one.

Charter/Marcus is completing a deal, and once it is aboard, Media One, which serves nearly 40 communities in the L.A. basin, will be the lone holdout. The Dodgers disappeared for Media One subscribers on Tuesday, and the Angels will be taken off Fox Sports West on Aug. 3.

"We're not going to cave in to Fox's strong-arm tactics on this one," said Gisselle Acevedo-Franco, Media One's director of corporate communications in its Southern California headquarters in El Segundo.

Does the Dodgers' ineptness make it easier to take such a stance?

"No, not really," Acevedo-Franco said. "Even if the team was in first place we would take the same action."

Neither Acevedo-Franco nor Fox Sports West spokesman Steve Webster would disclose the exact rate increase, but Webster said it amounts to about the price of a newspaper, which, in the case of this one, is 25 cents.

Acevedo-Franco says that trivializes the increase.

"The increase for us is seven digits, more than $1 million a month," she said. "We're looking out for our customers as a whole and saying no to this increase."

Acevedo-Franco says Media One has suggested putting Dodger and Angel telecasts on a pay tier, charging only people who want them. Basic cable is preferred because it maximizes exposure and provides higher ratings for advertising purposes.

Webster makes another point.

"It's unfair to charge sports fans and not charge other customers for non-sports channels," he said. "Sports fans aren't charged for national baseball, so why should they have to pay to see their local teams? It's ludicrous.

"And everyone else will get the Dodgers on Fox Sports West 2 except Media One subscribers."

Media One will still carry Fox Sports West and Fox Sports West 2, just not the Dodger and Angel telecasts.

Media One has been purchased by AT&T in a $58-billion deal, although the transaction has not been completed. Interestingly, AT&T also owns TCI, which has reached an agreement with Fox.

The loser here is the viewer at home who still wants to see the Dodgers, win or lose.


It was reported two weeks ago that Joe McDonnell and Doug Krikorian would start doing an afternoon sports-talk show for the One-On-One network's L.A. station, KCTD (1540), on July 19. They had signed a contract and told friends and the media it was a done deal.

But then McDonnell's employer, news station KFWB (980), pointed out that his contract there did not permit him to leave. Dave Cooke, KFWB's program director, told McDonnell that if he really wanted the One-On-One job, he would let him out of the contract. Instead, though, Cooke persuaded McDonnell to stay.

"My pal Joe opted for the obscurity of mouthing quarterly hour sound bites to the daily chaos of being a sports-talk-show host," Krikorian said. "He may be happy about it now, but let's see how he feels in six months, or six days."

McDonnell, known as "the Big Nasty," said, "Two reasons I signed with One-On-One were to work with Doug and take revenge on 1150 [KXTA, the station that fired McDonnell in November]. I realized those were not good reasons.

"I have to admit some gullibility on my part. I was not aware I had signed a contract with KFWB. I know I'm setting myself up to be criticized, much the way I criticized Jim Harrick in April when he couldn't make up his mind about which job to take. I can take the criticism; I know I did the right thing."

Chris Brennan, chief executive of One-On-One, said, "We find it odd he would have his signature on two contracts. That's not good business sense. And we're still waiting to see the other contract, or hear from Joe or his lawyer. He hasn't returned our phone calls.

"It's incredulous to us that he would walk away from being part of the nation's No. 1 sports-talk network to do two-minute sports updates."

Brennan said the plan is to still do a local L.A. show with Krikorian and someone else. One candidate is Antelope Valley Press columnist and radio veteran Brian Golden, a better choice than McDonnell anyway.


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