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Angels Move Toward Purchase of Radio Station

AM outlet to air Spanish broadcasts is part of plan to build audience, generate more revenue.

January 19, 2006|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

The Angels are close to an agreement to buy a 50,000-watt radio station that is expected to air the team's Spanish-language broadcasts this season, two sources said Wednesday.

As the Angels seek to expand their audience through Southern California and generate additional revenue from broadcasting, the deal could represent a step toward the team's owning a radio and television outlet within three years.

The radio station, 830 AM, airs Spanish-language programming. The Angels, in search of an outlet for their Spanish broadcasts, would buy 830 AM and air their games there.

The Angels' English broadcasts air on 710 AM, but fans have complained about an erratic signal at night. The team's contract with 710 expires in two years. By owning 830 -- and its superior signal -- the Angels would have the option to move English broadcasts there in two years and feature the team in programming throughout the day.

In three years, the Angels could start their own television station, similar to the cable channels run by the New York Yankees (YES) and Boston Red Sox (NESN). To preserve that option, the Angels have declined to accept a contract extension from FSN West for 10 years and about $340 million, which is comparable to the FSN agreement with the Dodgers.

In response, FSN has reduced its Angel coverage to the minimum 50 games required under the existing contract, which extends through 2008. The Angels, trying to complete a patchwork broadcast schedule for next season, are in discussions for two more packages of approximately 50 games apiece, one that would air on Channel 5 or 13 and the other targeted for Channel 30.

Angel spokesman Tim Mead said he could not comment on the specifics of radio or television negotiations. "We continue to explore a variety of business options," Mead said.

Zeke Chaidez, general manager of 830, did not return a call for comment.

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On the second day of testimony in the trial between the Angels and the city of Anaheim, Orange County Superior Court Judge Peter Polos urged both sides to settle the case and signaled he might toss out one of the city's primary arguments.

With court not in session Friday, Polos asked the parties to spend that day in mediation.

Polos also said he would consider rejecting the city's claim that the team's marketing and merchandising practices are in violation of the stadium lease. If he did, the city still could argue the team name -- the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim -- does not properly include Anaheim.

In the 1996 lease negotiations, then Disney sports chief Tony Tavares promised that "Anaheim" would be used wherever "California" had been once the California Angels became the Anaheim Angels, city co-counsel Andy Guilford said. That promise is not included in the lease but is consistent with major league marketing practices, Guilford said.

After a day of testimony highlighted lease provisions granting the team "sole control" or "sole discretion" or "exclusive control" over such areas as merchandising, parking, concessions and broadcasting, Polos warned the Angels' removal of a city name from tickets, programs and such might not be improper.

"It may be unusual," Polos said, "but it seems, according to the contract, they have the exclusive right to be unusual."

Guilford and Moreno each said he would welcome a mediation session Friday but said none had been scheduled. The parties held five previous settlement conferences without resolving the fundamental issue -- Moreno insists on keeping Los Angeles in the team name; Anaheim insists that he remove it.

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