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TMCNet:  Daily News, Los Angeles, Tom Hoffarth column

[December 14, 2012]

Daily News, Los Angeles, Tom Hoffarth column

Dec 14, 2012 (Daily News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Under the guidelines of the Dodgers' negotiation process to renew their local TV rights deal past 2014 -- and rake in billions of dollars in revenue that seems to have been already spent -- the exclusive window of talks with incumbent Fox Sports' Prime Ticket has come and gone, but more discussions have been taking place with Time Warner Cable over the past week and no deal has been reached, according to several industry sources.

The Dodgers were to have submitted a final proposal to Prime Ticket last week, likely filled with some complicated language about how the team would become part-owners of the channel. That deal has been reported, in simplified terms, to exceed $6 billion and cover some 25 years -- with anything coming from TWC expected to exceed that, or drive up the Fox price.

Fox will have until early January to decide if it will accept the Dodgers' proposal, knowing the team continues to discuss its options with TWC at the same time.

From the TWC side, the option to create another Dodger-centric channel has been discussed, similar to the one the network has done with its SportsNet and Deportes channels dedicated to the Lakers, Galaxy and Sparks. Trying to find room for a full slate of Dodgers games on SportsNet would present scheduling problems, something Fox Sports West found out in the late 1990s before it spun off a second channel to handle more inventory and use the Dodgers as its anchor.

Also to be negotiated is whether the Dodgers would demand some of their games continued to be accessible through a secondary provider -- more specifically, KCAL-Channel 9. The over-the-air network has carried some 40-plus games in recent years, but it knows it can be squeezed out of the equation, as has happened when the Lakers went to TWC SportsNet and took all regular-season games with them (aside from those taken for national broadcasts).

Discussions of the Dodgers starting their own TV channel in the meantime have quieted, sources say, because of the risk factors involved in launching such a venture. It would be far more prudent for the team to saddle up with an existing channel willing to absorb the start-up costs, sell the advertising and negotiate cable and dish deals that often turn ugly and become public relations issues.

Official spokespersons at Fox and TWC said they were not at liberty to discuss ongoing negotiations.

WHAT SMOKES (square) It makes more and more sense that Jay Mohr will be taking his comedic stylings to the radio and assume the 9 a.m.-to-noon spot on Fox Sports Radio and KLAC-AM (570) when Jim Rome vacates to the new CBS Radio Network starting Jan. 2. Mohr's credentials: Plenty, having been one of Rome's primary fill-ins (along with the Sklar brothers) over the years, even taking some 7-to-10 p.m. slots lately at KLAC to get in more reps, in addition to his "Mohr Stories" podcast interviews. Then there was the two-year run of the CBS sit-com "Gary Unmarried," where his character evolved into a wisecracking local sports-talk host. Rome, meanwhile, will more than likely be without a Southern California home when the CBS Radio Network launches on more than 100 stations reaching 10 million listeners as a 24/7 entity after New Year's Day. CBS Radio spokesperson Karen Mateo said the programming will be accessible through an upcoming link to the CBSSports.com website. Speculation continues that KFWB-AM (980), which carries Clippers games, would be a likely candidate for the CBS affiliate, a station that the network owns but does not operate because it exceeds the FCC limit in this market by owning one AM station (KNX-1070), five FM stations (including KCBS-Jack 93.1, KRTH-101.1, KTWV-94.7 and KROQ-106.7) and two TV stations (KCBS Channel 2 and KCAL Channel 9).

WHAT CHOKES (square) HBO, without the voice of Larry Merchant Never shy about telling what he sees to be the truth in the corruptive world of boxing, Merchant says he is ending his 35-year run at the network as a ringside commentator with Saturday's Nonito Donaire-Jorge Arce super bantamweight title telecast from Houston (9:30 p.m.), choosing instead ofto become what he says is "a Tom Brokaw-like senior kibitzer on major news and events in boxing" starting in January. The Santa Monica-based Merchant, who turns 82 in February, called last week's Juan Manuel Marquez knockout of Manny Pacquiao (which HBO will replay Saturday night). The former Philadelphia Daily News and New York Post sports columnist has worked with Jim Lampley on fights since 1988, joining the network in 1978. Max Kellerman, the KSPN-AM (710) afternoon sports-talk co-host who has been with HBO since 2005, will be the network's full-time boxing commentator and post-fight interviewer. Lampley plans to do a retrospective of Merchant's career during his next episode of "The Fight Game with Jim Lampley," airing Saturday after the live fight coverage.

___ (c)2012 the Daily News (Los Angeles) Visit the Daily News (Los Angeles) at www.dailynews.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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