Explaining Southern California's economy

Time Warner starts 'major' network upgrade in Los Angeles

Martin Abegglen/flickr Creative Commons

The upgrades are part of an initiative Time Warner announced earlier this year to improve its network.

And now some news from Time Warner that doesn't involve the Dodgers.

The company announced it's upgrading its network with "major internet speed increases" in Covina, Cypress, Hoover, Crenshaw District, and Jefferson Park. Residential customers in Costa Mesa and West Hollywood have already received upgrades.

Time Warner says customers who subscribe to the Standard Internet plan, which formerly delivered speeds up to 15 Mbps, will now receive up to 50 Mbps, and customers who subscribe to the Ultimate plan, formerly up to 100 Mbps, will receive up to 300 Mbps. (You need a DOCSIS 3.0 modem to take advantage of the upgrade)

The upgrades are part of an initiative Time Warner announced earlier this year to improve its network. The company says all of Los Angeles should be receiving the higher speeds by the end of the year.

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In SoCal business news: Allergan gets $40 billion bid, Netflix exec says issues surrounding House of Cards tax credits are "overcome-able"

Netflix

Kevin Spacey stars as Frank Underwood in the Netflix show "House Of Cards."

Good morning! Welcome to KPCC's business blog, The Breakdown. Every weekday morning, we compile a list of interesting business stories in the region.

  • A competitor wants to buy Irvine-based botox maker Allergan in a deal worth $40 billion (Orange County Register). Reporters Bernard Wolfson and Marni Usheroff say the bid, from Valeant Pharmaceuticals and activist shareholder William Ackman, was unsolicited.
  • House of Cards didn't get all the tax credits it wanted from the Maryland legislature, but Netflix's chief content officer says "these are overcome-able issues." (Deadline).
  • Could the Supreme Court's ruling on Aereo change cloud computing? (re/code). Mitch Stolz from the Electronic Frontier Foundation tells re/code, “Under the hood, what Aereo is doing is storing TV programs at the request of a user and transmitting to the user’s device. You put those together and that’s a lot like what a lot of cloud services do, too.” Aereo isn't available on the West Coast (KPCC).
  • Exide lays off more than 120 employees at its troubled Vernon plant (KPCC). Correspondent Molly Peterson says the layoffs "don’t necessarily mean the Vernon facility is closing for good."
  • Long Beach Airport's executive director Mario Rodriguez will leave his position to work for the Indianapolis Airport Authority (Press-Telegram).
  • L.A. officials continue to push to bring rail to LAX (New York Times).
  • The number of San Fernando Valley homes for sale was up 50 percent for the month of March (Los Angeles Daily News).
  • Maker Studios partners with Nylon to create its first-scripted drama series (Deadline). Maker will be bought by Disney later this year (KPCC). 
  • Chaminade College Preparatory is bringing their robot, Legacy, to the FIRST Robotics World Championship (Daily News). Reporter Susan Abram says the robot can throw a yoga ball 26 feet.

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Study: Oil industry major driver of California economy

Fracking In California Under Spotlight As Some Local Municipalities Issue Bans

David McNew/Getty Images

Pump jacks and wells are seen in an oil field on the Monterey Shale formation where gas and oil extraction using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is on the verge of a boom on March 23, 2014

Every few years, the Western States Petroleum Association runs the hard numbers on how much money and how many jobs gush from oil and gas production.  The lobbying group for the oil industry isn’t shy about the power of black gold in the Golden State.  

Its latest study, produced by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, says the petroleum industry was responsible for 468,000 California jobs in 2012.  WSPA president Catherine Reheis-Boyd says nearly half of those jobs are in the six counties of Southern California, and Los Angeles County in particular.

"When you look at Los Angeles County alone, it earns  $5.2 billion annually in tax revenues that are generated by the petroleum industry," Reheis-Boyd says.  "And nearly 6.5 % of Los Angeles County’s entire economic output can be traced to the petroleum industry."

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Will Aereo change the way we watch TV?

The 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards - Pre-GRAMMY Gala And Salute To Industry Icons Honoring L.A. Reid - Show

Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS

During a conference call with analysts earlier this year, CBS Chairman and CEO Les Moonves was asked if the two billion dollars in retransmission fees CBS expects to receive by 2020 would be threatened if the Supreme Court rules in Aereo's favor. "No," said Moonves.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. v. Aereo, a case that Aereo itself and many others refer to as a 21st century version of the landmark 1984 Betamax case, which allowed people to record TV shows on their VCR's.

I'm guessing there are many who are only vaguely familiar with Aereo, especially in Los Angeles, where the service isn't available. (In fact, Aereo isn't available at all on the West Coast, perhaps of an unfavorable ninth circuit ruling in California against a simliar service).

So here's a basic primer: Starting at eight dollars a month, Aereo will "rent" you a tiny TV antenna about the size of a dime that enables you to watch and record your favorite shows from traditional broadcast networks on different devices, like your mobile phone or Apple TV. 

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In SoCal business news: Redstone has the biggest haul in Hollywood, cheaper movie tickets, Logjam on Lincoln

US-OSCARS-PREPARATION

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

The Academy is sticking with the producer's of the last two awards shows for next year's Oscar's.

Welcome to KPCC's business blog, The Breakdown. Every weekday, our team compiles a list of interesting business stories in the region.  

  • On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in American Broadcasting Companies v. Aereo. The service that streams local TV signals via the internet hasn't made it yet to Southern California, and broadcasters want to stop the start-up before it can. Aereo Found Chet Kanojia, tells the New York Times' David Carr: "This is the Sony Betamax of this century."  KPCC's Air Talk has covered the debate. 
  • The biggest hauls in Hollywood. Top entertainment executives are getting richer, according to The Wrap's annual survey of executive compensation. Sumner Redstone took home a "jaw-dropping" $93.4 million dollars in 2013. The Wrap also looks at the disparity in compensation between the media and technology sectors.  
  • The Academy sticks with Oscars producers.  The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Monday that Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, the same LA-based duo that produced the past two Oscars awards shows will produce next year's as well. (LA Times)
  • Movie ticket prices fell almost 5% in first three months of 2013.   The National Association of Theater Owners reports the average cost of a U.S. movie ticket dropped 4.7% from $8.35 to $7.96. (Variety)
  • Eyes on San Berdoo. If San Bernardino wins its latest fight with Calpers, other cities could use bankruptcy law to withhold or delay payments to the pension system.  The New York Times looks at the fight, and at San Bernardino, under the new mayor, Carey Davis.  
  • Lincoln Boulevard will be closed at Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica for a week starting Monday. Santa Monica officials worry about the impact on commercial truck traffic common on the thoroughfare. Bay Cities Italian Deli General Manager Hector Padilla tells the Santa Monica Daily Press that the deli considered closing for the week or reducing hours, but will tough it out.  “I’m crossing my fingers,” he said. “People are still going to eat.”  

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