Culver City Observer -

By Mitch Chortkoff
Sports Editor 

Dodgers’ TV Deal Brings On Questions


January 29, 2013

When Frank McCourt owned the Dodgers I could never envision myself writing a column like this.

But now it’s appropriate.

The Dodgers have such a huge payroll for the upcoming season they’ll have a heck of a time managing it.

The Dodgers have the largest player payroll in the major leagues and it’s likely to reach $220 million. Then there’s another $25 million in luxury tax.

They’re also obligated to pay some guys who are no longer with them, including Andrew Jones and Tony Gwynn Jr.

You may have heard about the Dodgers’ new television contract with Time Warner Cable, but that’s turning out to be controversial.

They’ve got to pay 34 percent to major league baseball’s revenue-sharing program, but the deal is worded in a way that leaves the amount in question.

The Dodgers made about $40 million annually from their previous TV deal. With this new one they’ll make about $280 million a year. It’s a deal believed to be for 20 to 25 years and Time Warner will create a new channel just for Dodger news.

Let’s hope the Dodgers fare better in the standings than the Lakers have after they went with Time Warner this season.

The channel is devoted to the team, with lengthy pre-game and post-game shows. But the Lakers have absorbed loss after loss in much the same manner, leaving little room for meaningful analysis.

I feel for James Worthy, a class guy I got to know when I traveled with Laker teams. I’m sure he expected to show viewers nice things about a Laker team that had brought on high expectations.

Instead, he comments night after night about their mistakes, how they’re out of position on defense, how they play without much energy.

Then there are interviews conducted mostly by broadcaster John Ireland which fall into the same category, with players trying to explain what went wrong.

That’s the danger of having a channel so devoted to one team. How much of the same negative talk can viewers stand?

The 2013 Dodgers look promising, with Zach Greinke joining Clayton Kershaw in the pitching rotation, Adrian Gonzalez beginning his first full season with the team and Carl Crawford recovering from an injury to take over left field.

But we’ll see.

The channel won’t start until the 2014 season, so the Dodgers have a year to learn from Time Warner’s problems with the Laker channel.

Will we have to go through a similar period of frustration until Time Warner makes deals with other local cable companies?

I have Direc TV and it wasn’t much fun hearing from fellow subscribers about the futility of being shut out until negotiations were completed even after this season began.

We were reminded when a similar negotiation took place in New York many years ago Yankee telecasts weren’t made available to rival cable companies for a year.

We don’t need that here, so I hope Time Warner realizes that.

I feel for viewers who used to watch Lakers road games on Channel 9 and can’t afford cable. I hope fans who get pleasure from watching the Dodgers won’t be treated as badly.


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