Will Tribune wrestle baseball over Cuban?


Major League Baseball is a relatively closed society, and 23 of the 30 owners must give thumbs up to anyone wishing to join. Tribune Company, on the other hand is, for now, a publicly-traded company with a duty to maximize value for its shareholders. These conflicting platforms may butt heads as Tribune shops the Chicago Cubs franchise and an associated cable network.

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Tribune has said it will market the Cubs and a 25% stake in a Comcast regional network together, but now is said to be mulling the possibility of selling them separately, if that turns out to be a way to bring in more bucks.

A problem may arise if NBA Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban proves speculators who think he may be a serious bidder correct. He has been known to butt heads with NBA management, and LAT speculates there may be more than a little sentiment among MLB owners to steer the team to somebody else, regardless of how much money Cuban puts on the table.

Uncertainty on numerous fronts puts in doubt the ability to put a deal for the team together by year’s end.

TVBR/RBR observation: Kinda makes you appreciate the FCC’s fact-based system for approving transactions. It doesn’t look at a prospective owner and determine if he works and plays well with others. In fact, in a way a competitive cuss is desirable: Competition, along with localism and diversity, is one of the nominal attributes the FCC looks to protect. If the stations counts work and the buyer has standing to be a licensee, it pretty much clears any hurdles the FCC has built into the approval process.