Explaining Southern California's economy

In SoCal business news: Dodgers channel negotiations stumble, NUVOtv to buy Fuse Network

Pool/Getty Images

Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in Game Three of the 2013 National League Championship Series. (Photo by David J. Phillip/Pool/Getty Images)

Happy Friday! Welcome to KPCC's business blog, The Breakdown. Every weekday, we compile interesting business stories in the region.

  • Time Warner Cable says DirecTV walked away from negotiations over the Dodgers channel (KPCC). DirecTV tells KPCC's Ben Bergman, "Nothing could be further from the truth." Meanwhile, the Dodgers channel SportsNet LA's ratings are lower compared to first two games last season on Prime Ticket (Los Angeles Times).
  • NUVOtv plans to buy Fuse TV from Madison Square Garden Co. for $226 million in cash and give MSG a 15 percent equity in the combined company (Bloomberg). Bloomberg's Andy Fixmer and Stephanie Ruhle say L.A.-based NUVOtv has an audience of more than 32 million households. Jennifer Lopez is chief creative officer at NUVOtv and a shareholder.
  • Marvel "signed away" the film rights to X-Men and Spiderman, but it's successfully raking in money with lesser known heroes like Captain America and Thor (BloombergBusinessweek). There will be a discussion on "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" today on AirTalk's Filmweek.
  • Univision had a round of layoffs affecting "dozens of workers" nationwide in its radio division (Los Angeles Times). Reporter Meg James says the company's programming staff and some on-air hosts lost their jobs.
  • Uber is launching its services in Palm Springs during the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (San Francisco Chronicle). KPCC's Ben Bergman has covered increased competition for cab drivers.
  • Oakley is reaching out to younger consumers. The Foothill Ranch-based company is the "official eyewear sponsor" of Little League Baseball and Little League Softball (Orange County Business Journal). Reporter Mediha DiMartino says Oakley will provide "customized eyewear" for regional teams at the Little League Baseball World Series.
  • City of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti wants CBS to bring the next late night show to L.A. (The Wrap). The move comes as David Letterman announced his retirement. "The Tonight Show" has moved from Burbank to New York and there are concerns about film and TV production moving to other states.

  • Tesla Founder Elon Musk didn't like the first episode of TV show "Silicon Valley" because he felt it fails to capture what the people are really like. (re/code). I took out the expletives in the quote below.

     

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Time Warner says DirecTV walked away, won't be carrying Dodgers channel this year

Atlanta Braves v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Three

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 06: Adrian Gonzalez #23 and Yasiel Puig #66 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate the Dodgers 13-6 victory against the Atlanta Braves during Game Three of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on October 6, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

In what appears to be a negotiating tactic to raise pressure on DirecTV, a Time Warner executive told The Los Angeles Times that the satellite provider abruptly ended negotiations over the new all-Dodgers channel, which has yet to strike deals with any major pay-TV provider, leaving about 70 percent of Los Angeles unable to view games.

"DirecTV has advised us that they will not carry the Dodgers this year, and they have walked away from the negotiating table," said Melinda Witmer, Time Warner Cable's executive vice president and chief video and content officer told the Times. "Given the very aggressive and unprecedented terms they put forward, it seems they are very uninterested in carrying the Dodgers."

FAQ: Why two-thirds of Los Angeles can't see the Dodgers on TV

The Times story features a back and forth between Time Warner and DirecTV worthy of junior high; DirecTV released a statement to KPCC flatly denying Time Warner's claims: 

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Los Angeles fast food workers protest alleged wage theft

Hamburglarized at McDonalds

Brian Watt/KPCC

Alberto Castro played the 'Hamburglar' and Jose Paz played the 'police' in some street theater to protest alleged wage theft.

More than a dozen fast food workers and their supporters spoke and performed street theater Thursday outside a McDonalds in South Los Angeles.  

Some of the performers were local examples of the results of a  recent national survey that showed 89 percent of fast food workers believe they've been the victim of wage theft. 

"Ronald McDonald and the Hamburglar are stealing wages," shouted the narrator into a bullhorn.  23-year-old Jose Paz, who works at the McDonalds, played the policeman bringing the costumed 'thieves' to justice.

"When we punch in and punch out, those are edited out and sometimes we don't see hours or minutes that we worked for those two weeks," said Paz, who has worked at the McDonalds for three years.  He added that he's also been forced to buy supplies needed on the job, like dishwashing fluid and a hat. 

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In SoCal business news: 'Blackfish' impact on SeaWorld, Rubicon's IPO, a Google Glass class

Killer Whales performing at SeaWorld

flickr/MomMaven

Killer Whales performing at SeaWorld. The Los Angeles Times reports SeaWorld attendance was down 13 percent in the first quarter.

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

  • Is the film Blackfish scaring away SeaWorld visitors? Los Angeles Times reporter Hugo Martin says SeaWorld attendance dropped 13 percent to 3.05 million visitors in the first quarter compared to a year ago. Martin says executives said in the past that Blackfish didn't cause business to decline. The film is critical about the way SeaWorld treats its killer whales and it has caused some consumers like Kirra Kotler from Malibu to think twice about visiting the theme park. Kotler convinced her school to cancel their trip to SeaWorld San Diego and go on a whale-watching trip instead (NPR).
  • AwesomenessTV bought YouTube network Big Frame for $15 million (The Wrap). Reporter Lucas Shaw says combined, the companies will have 80 million subscribers on YouTube. Last year, I reported DreamWorks Animation purchased teen Youtube network AwesomesnessTV in a deal that could reach $117 million.
  • Meanwhile, director Ron Howard, producer Brian Grazer and Discovery partnered to start an L.A.-based digital studio that produces online short-form videos (The Wrap)
  • Playa Vista-based Rubicon Project raised $81.3 million in "new capital" in its IPO (PandoDaily). Reporter Michael Carney says it shows that the L.A. start-up scene is doing well, with Disney's plans to buy Maker Studios and Facebook's upcoming purchase of Irvine-based Oculus.
  • U-Can Zippers in Long Beach is of the few zipper companies in the Western United States (LA Weekly). LA Weekly's James Bartlett says U-Can sold 2 million to 3 million zippers last year.
  • Orange County Visitors Association opened an office in Dubai, becoming the first U.S. regional tourism group to do so (Orange County Register). Southern California businesses have pulled out all the stops for foreign tourists because they tend to spend more money.
  • Another home delivery grocery service comes to L.A. Instacart delivers Whole Foods groceries to the doors of online shoppers (Los Angeles Times). Reporter Andrea Chang says Instacart is is crowd-sourced, using personal shoppers to buy your groceries for you. Last year, Amazon launched its own online grocery business in L.A. (KPCC).
  • Want to figure out how to work Google Glass into journalism? There's a class for that at USC, that will delve into "developing Glass-centric software for journalists" (Fast Company). Professor Robert Hernandez says in the article, "I'm not drinking the Google Kool-Aid. But it's the most mature wearable platform that's out there. And we need to be proactive and figure it out."  We'll see about that. 

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CA labor office sides with port truck drivers

Mercer 18651

David McNew/Getty Images

Trucks are driven near the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, the busiest port complex in the US,

Truck drivers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach who want to be classified as employees rather than independent contractors have scored another victory. A California labor office has ruled in favor of seven drivers for transport company Pacer International

In an administrative ruling that awards the truck drivers more than $2 million, a hearing officer with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) wrote:

The Defendant considered the Plaintiffs to be independent contractors; however, the amount of control exhibited by the Defendant over the Plaintiffs was to such a degree that the Defendant knew or should have known that the Plaintiffs were employees.

An attorney for the drivers, David Arambula, said the ruling gives momentum to port truckers in a years-long dispute over their employment status.

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