Explaining Southern California's economy

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



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.”  


JPMorgan Chase gives $10 million to LA job training programs

Job Corps


Participants at the YWCA's Job Corps program practice doing job interviews.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. said Monday it would invest $10 million to support job training programs in Los Angeles.

The money will be allocated over five years. So far, the nonprofits that received funding for 2014 are:

  • L.A. Chamber Foundation ($300,000)
  • YWCA Greater Los Angeles ($100,000)
  • L.A. Conservation Corps ($200,000)
  • L.A. Business Council Institute ($100,000)
  • Los Angeles Urban League Business and Career WorkSource Center ($75,000)

Joni Topper, region head for JPMorgan Chase’s government, nonprofit and healthcare banking unit, said the grant would help train workers for today and the future. She said there is a job skills gap that is making it hard for companies to fill jobs, even though there are unemployed workers.

"Hopefully we close that gap," Topper said. "Hopefully in another downturn we recover faster. That would be a great outcome."


In SoCal business news: Herbalife investigation, Uber adds 'safe rides' fee


A worker cleans the logo on the Herbalife sign as finishing touches are put on the company's building in Torrance, Calif.

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

  • Herbalife is targeted in another investigation of its practices, this time from the Illinois attorney general's office (Los Angeles Times). The L.A.-based firm is also being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission (KPCC).
  • Aereo's CEO Chet Kanojia hopes for a "clear decision" from Supreme Court on whether his company violates copyright laws and says Aereo has less than one million users (The Wrap). Broadcast networks have complained against Aereo's business. When customers sign up to access network TV programming using online service Aereo, they're not paying the fees that cable and broadcast networks rely on for revenue—known as retransmission content (AirTalk).
  • L.A.'s Office of Motion Picture and Television Production made some recommendations to a City Council committee (Daily News). Reporter Dakota Smith says one suggestion was creating a "code of conduct" that would handle ethical issues. 
  • China Film Co. makes its second deal with a Hollywood studio, by producing "Marco Polo" with Paramount Pictures (Deadline). But not everyone is a fan of China's practices. Director Oliver Stone says he wanted to do a film on Mao Zedong and didn't get support from China on that idea (The Economist).
  • Hollywood talent agencies have added to their concert and music booking divisions, as bookers take home even more pay (New York Times). Times reporter Hannah Karp says booking agents make 10 to 15 percent of concert tour sales.
  • When did Silicon Beach begin? Broker Randy Starr believes it started around 1998 or 1999 after the "first dot-com wave." (Santa Monica Daily Press).
  • Moving the Sriracha factory out of California is a complicated endeavor (KPCC).
  • Taking Uber this weekend? You'll see a $1 safe rides fee added to your bill (Pando Daily). This comes as Uber and other ride-sharing companies are getting questioned about the insurance they provide drivers (KPCC).


How much would moving cost the maker of Sriracha?

Bottles of Sriracha chili sauce on the shelves of a supermarket in Rosemead, Calif.

Frederic J. Brown /AFP/Getty Images

Bottles of Sriracha chili sauce on the shelves of a supermarket in Rosemead.

With all the trouble in the air in Irwindale, the company that makes Sriracha hot sauce now says it’s considering a move somewhere else. Huy Fong Foods is being peppered with offers of new homes close by and far away, but moving to any of them would be costly.

"Denton loves Sriracha. We’ll never shut them down," says city councilman Kevin Roden of Denton, Texas, expressing his city's hots for the hot sauce.           

The Huy Fong Foods  factory in Irwindale is 650,000 square feet and makes at least 200,000 bottles of hot sauce a day. The facility currently employs 200 people. Moving out of it is a little different from vacating a college dormitory.

RELATED: Irwindale declares Sriracha maker a public nuisance

"Unlike moving furniture or relocating an office, this is a little bit more complex," said Nick Vyas, who directs the Center for Global Supply Chain Management at USC's Marshall School of Business. 


Why an early Chinese New Year means more cargo for the Port of LA

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Port of Los Angeles.

The earlier timing of Chinese New Year in 2014 helped usher in more cargo at the Port of Los Angeles in March, port officials said.

Container imports and exports at the Port of Los Angeles increased 34 percent to a total of 515,323 20-foot equivalent units in March, compared to a year ago, the port said. It's part of a trend that happens every year.

"We expect next year to be no different," said Gary Moore, interim executive director at the Port of Los Angeles. "When [Lunar New Year] happens, we'll expect to see a slow down in cargo and the next month, it will pick up again." 

Chinese factories close during New Year

Lunar New Year is considered a national holiday in China, where workers are given about two weeks of time off, said Baizhu Chen, professor of clinical finance and business economics at USC Marshall School of Business. It's sort of like Thanksgiving and Christmas combined into one, he said.