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The Morning Fix

Sports fees too high! Bribery charges coming in hacking scandal

November 20, 2012|By Meg James and Joe Flint
  • Cable mogul John Malone thinks the cost of sports programming is out of bounds.
Cable mogul John Malone thinks the cost of sports programming is out of bounds. (Bloomberg )

After the coffee. Before trying to figure out how to return those Twinkies we ordered on Ebay.

The Skinny:  Two prominent former News International executives are expected to be charged in the long-running phone hacking probe in London. John Malone says sports fees are out of control. Joe Flint is back at the controls Wednesday. I'm just your temporary Morning Fix hostess.

Daily Dose: A federal judge is trying to mediate the standoff between Hostess and its bakers union. A deal would avert a company closure and keep the sugary snacks on shelves. You might be asking, how does Hostess relate to Hollywood? Well, the company learned to preserve its cupcakes and Ho Ho's long before Botox and Beverly Hills surgeons arrived on the scene.

High price of sports:  Add mogul John Malone to the chorus of critics of the skyrocketing costs of sports, and how recent TV deals are driving up the cost of subscriptions for satellite and cable TV for consumers. Malone told Company Town's Joe Flint that sports rights fees are "essentially a high tax on a lot of households that don’t have a lot of interest in sports."

Phone hacking charges. Andy Coulson, a former senior aide to Prime Minister David Cameron, and Rebekah Brooks, the onetime chief of Rupert Murdoch's British newspapers, will be charged with bribery offenses in the latest legal action stemming from Britain's phone-hacking scandal, prosecutors in London said Tuesday.

Dual-track. DreamWorks Animation was the only studio to say "yes" to the request of William Joyce, the creative force behind DreamWorks' new film "Rise of the Guardians," that he have the freedom to write books featuring the same characters, including Santa Claus and Jack Frost, who are featured in the movie while the film was in production.

Reaching for the wallet. News Corp., the media conglomerate whose holdings include Fox Broadcasting, the movie studio 20th Century Fox, cable channel Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and almost two dozen regional sports networks, is looking for new assets. Besides nearing a deal to buy a big stake in the YES Network, which is the New York Yankees-owned sports channel, News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch is also interested in additional newspapers. The New York Times on what's on Murdoch's wish list.

Hitting the wrong note? The ratings for ABC's Sunday telecast of the American Music Awards were an all-time low and come just a few weeks after the network's broadcast of the Country Music Awards were also down sharply from last year. Is something up with music shows, ABC or ratings service Nielsen? Media blogger Marc Hilsenrath (AKA Big TV Fan) takes a look at some odd numbers at the Alphabet network.

Sandy cell plan: U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has asked the Federal Communications Commission to develop a disaster communications plan to ensure that cellphone towers do not lose power for weeks on end in the wake of a disaster, according to Broadcasting & Cable. About a quarter of cellphone towers in Sandy storm-ravaged areas went down.

TV Guide reboot. Lionsgate is looking to rebrand its TV Guide Network ahead of the sale of the related website for about $20 million.  Variety said the company filed a trademark this fall for the moniker "TVGN."

NBC sweeps?  Comcast Corp.'s hometown paper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, gives props to NBC and Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt as NBC approaches its first November sweeps win in nine years.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Gerrick Kennedy looks at Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra's attempt to achieve cross-over pop star status in America. And as we get ready to stuff ourselves, Dawn Chmielewski looks at an over-the-top Web cooking show called "Epic Meal Time."  Okay, now our tummies hurt.

Follow us on Twitter. Meg has modest goals: 

@MegJamesLAT and @JBFlint

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