The Breakdown | Explaining Southern California's economy

Time Warner Cable adds 'sports programming fee' to the bill. Thank you, Dodgers?

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 07: The St. Louis Cardinals celebrate after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers as Yasiel Puig #66 of the Los Angeles Dodgers walks off the field in Game Four of the National League Divison Series at Busch Stadium on October 7, 2014 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Starting Jan. 1, your Time Warner Cable bill is going to get a little more expensive, with the addition of a “sports programming fee” of $2.75 a month. The charge is modest, but remember a lot of your cable bill goes to sports already, to pay hefty carriage fees to ESPN and an increasing number of regional sports networks (RSN's).

Time Warner Cable will charge the fee whether you ever watch sports or not. (Though 75 percent of customers won't see the charge at first because they are on promotional plans.)

"The cost of sports programming has been escalating dramatically," said Time Warner Cable spokesman Bret Picciolo. "Since 2008, our cost for cable sports programming has gone up by 91% and we think it is important to show customers the impact of these rising costs through a specific item on their bills. The new fee will only reflect a small portion of the escalating costs we are now paying for sports."


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Transit ridership drops in LA — Are low gas prices to blame?

In this file photo, passengers board Metro subway trains during rush hour on June 3, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.
David McNew/Getty Images

How’s this for a great Christmas present? An average gallon of unleaded regular costs less than $2.75 in Los Angeles, the lowest price in years. But falling gas prices don’t necessarily mean a decrease in the use of public transportation.

Metro ridership dropped to 36,646,614 in November, compared to 38,738,815 the same month last year, or 38,529,688 in November of 2013.

But Metro spokesman Paul Gonzales cautioned that it's way to early to know whether the drop is due to gas prices.

"We really cannot say," Gonzales said.

Nationally, transit ridership has been on the upswing, according to the American Public Transportation Association. The association reported that more than 2.7 billion trips were taken on U.S. public transportation in the third quarter of 2014, which is a 1.8 percent increase over the same quarter last year.


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The Lakers may be struggling, but their merchandise still sells

Jvaughn Singleton folds a Lakers t-shirt at Pro Image Sports
Brian Watt/KPCC

Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers take an 8-19 record to the Bay Area to take on first place Golden State Tuesday night. The Lakers’ struggles on the basketball court this season made KPCC wonder: how’s their merchandise selling this holiday season?

Just fine, say the guys at Pro Image Sports in the Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw Plaza. 

"They don’t buy as much when we’re not going to the playoffs or winning championships," says manager Eddie Varela of Lakers fans. "But it doesn’t stop selling. Laker gear definitely continues selling, especially for the holidays."

At Pro Image, Lakers officially licensed jerseys, t-shirts, hats, socks and travel mugs compete with the same "gear" from other pro sports teams. By the looks of the place, the purple and gold wins hands down. The L.A. Clippers may have a far better record, but their merchandise doesn't come close to moving like the Lakers'.


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Nearly $5 billion allotted for new LAX concourse and connector train projects

LAX is on pace to set a passenger record in 2014
Alan Wilson/Flickr Creative Commons

The commission that oversees Los Angeles International Airport voted Thursday to advance two major projects designed to modernize the airport and improve the passage of travelers. 

The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners awarded a nearly $1 billion contract for the design and construction of a new "Midfield Satellite Concourse." The concourse will add 11 gates at LAX, and the gates will be able to accommodate large aircraft like the Airbus A380. 

The new 5-level concourse will be located 1,300 feet west of the airport's Tom Bradley International Terminal, currently undergoing a $2 billion expansion.  An underground tunnel will connect the midfield concourse to the Bradley terminal. 

"LAX is experiencing the fastest and greatest growth of any airport in the region, and there appears to be no cessation of it," said Jack Keady, an aviation consultant based in Playa Del Rey. "We've seen quite a few more foreign carriers coming into LAX in the past several years, so we want to have the appropriate number of wide-body international gates." 


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537 face layoffs as Boeing winds down C-17 cargo plane production

The Boeing C-17 plant in Long Beach employed 5,000 people, but production of the cargo plane is winding down.
Brian Watt/KPCC

Some 537 workers at Boeing facilities in Long Beach, Huntington Beach and El Segundo will be laid off as the aerospace company winds down production of the C-17 Globemaster for the U.S. government.

  • The layoffs begin on Friday, when 139 jobs will be eliminated at the three locations, according to the California Employment Development Department.  
  • They continue on on New Year's Day, 2015, when another 221 jobs are slated to end.
  • The final 177 follow about three weeks later.

Long Beach has borne the heaviest load. The 2,200 Californians who worked on the cargo plane have known since September of last year that production would end some time next year.  Last April, Boeing announced it would likely end a few months earlier than planned

Since then, layoffs have been steady in Long Beach. Some 227 Boeing jobs ended on Nov. 21, and one of them belonged to structure mechanic George Burden, who helped build the floors of the C-17 planes.


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