Sirius XM Radio appears headed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, with EchoStar and Liberty Media looking to possibly take over.
UPDATE: Both MLB and the NFL appear shielded from any Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by Sirius XM Radio.
For rabid sports fans, one of the biggest boons to their non-stop addiction was the creation of dedicated sports channels via XM and Sirius satellite radio. When the $13 billion merger between the two was finalized in July of 2008, it placed non-stop radio programming for Major League Baseball, the National Football League, and NASCAR, as well as Howard Stern and Martha Stewart under one roof.
Now, that roof appears to be headed for collapse.
Shares of Sirius XM Radio (SIRI) fell more than 51 percent, closing at 6 cents a share after reports that they are considering filing for bankruptcy ahead of $175 million in debt payments that are due on Tuesday. According to The New York Times, the company has retained bankruptcy lawyer Mark Thompson of Simpson, Thatcher & Bartlett, and Joseph Bondi, a restructuring expert, to work through the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing process.
In the meantime, Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin has been working with EchoStar CEO Charles Ergen on a possible deal. EchoStar, Inc. owns DISH Network, the nation’s second largest satellite television company. EchoStar has been gobbling up Sirius XM Radio debt in an effort to angle themselves for a take over.
Now, John C. Malone’s Liberty Media Corp. (LINTA) is in the mix and is in preliminary talks with Sirius XM, setting up a possible bidding war for Sirius XM. Liberty owns the controlling interest in DirecTV, the nation’s largest satellite television company. Also, as part of a separate deal with Time Warner, Liberty acquired the Atlanta Braves in May of 2007.
It has been reported that Karmazin and Ergen do not get along, but since EchoStar has been purchasing Sirius XM debt, they may have the inside track. Liberty also may be showing interest in a bidding war as simply a way to financially weaken EchoStar.
According to the Times online edition, Sirius XM’s fall comes as subscribership growth grew 17 percent in the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2008, a substantially slowed growth. “Sirius netted 344,081 new subscribers during the quarter, down 59 percent compared to the 839,750 netted during the same period the year before,” according to the NYT.
After the merger between Sirius and XM the company took on substantial debt after investing in satellite technology, and investing in high-priced on-air talent, such as Stern and Stewart.
In 2004, Major League Baseball and XM reached an 11-year, $650 million agreement allowing XM to broadcast Major League Baseball games and other content. The deal averages $60 million annually.
Each league has clauses in its long-term contracts requiring that future Sirius XM payments be deposited into escrow accounts.
The N.F.L. made a seven-year, $220 million deal in 2003 that required Sirius to put $85 million into escrow to cover the 2006 to 2009 rights payments.
When M.L.B. signed with XM for $650 million over 11 years in 2004, the contract required the company to put $120 million into escrow. Last May, the company put the money into escrow, borrowing $62.5 million to afford it. The account is earmarked for the 2009 and 2010 rights payments, the first of which is due March 1.
The Houston Astros announced today that the club has come to a four-year agreement, including a two-year mutual option, with Clear Channel Radio Houston that will keep Astros games on KTRH (740 AM) through at least the 2012 season. Financial terms were not released.
“The Astros are extremely pleased to remain with KTRH. We are very proud of the partnership we have developed with KTRH and the entire Clear Channel family of stations,” said Jamie Hildreth, Astros Senior Vice President of Sponsorship Sales. “KTRH is a strong part of the Houston Astros brand and we look forward to the future.”
The deal insures that all 162 regular season games will be broadcast on KTRH, while 36 Spring Training games will be aired on either KTRH or its sister station KBME (790 AM).
Hall-of-Famer Milo Hamilton will return to the Astros radio booth in 2009 for his 25th year as the voice of the Astros. He will continue broadcasting all Astros home games and will make select road trips throughout the season. Joining Hamilton in the booth will be Brett Dolan and Dave Raymond, who both return for their fourth seasons with the club. The two will continue to split home games with Hamilton and will serve as the broadcast team on all road trips.
KTRH has served as the flagship of the Astros English network, which consists of 35-plus stations throughout the Southwest, since 1999, making the 2009 season their 11th with the club.
The Tampa Bay Rays and Clear Channel Communications announced today that Rays 2009 regular-season games will be broadcast on 620 WDAE, The Sports Animal. WDAE, with the strongest AM signal in Florida, will serve as the Rays new flagship station and is the top-rated sports station in the Tampa-St. Petersburg market
Financial terms were not released.
Additionally, the Rays will broadcast a schedule of 17 Spring Training games, including eight games from the Rays new Spring Training facility in Charlotte County and nine road games.
“We are very proud to announce that WDAE 620-AM is the new flagship home of the Tampa Bay Rays,” said Rays Senior Vice President/Chief Sales Officer Mark Fernandez. “This partnership is another major milestone in the evolution of the Rays. WDAE is not only the dominant sports talk station in the Bay area, it is also an iconic brand throughout the region.”
“Over the years Clear Channel Radio Tampa Bay has always had an outstanding relationship with the Rays. All of our stations have enormous respect for the Rays organization and have had a lot of fun and success along the way,” said Mike Killabrew, Program Director for 620 WDAE, The Sports Animal. “Other than Joe Maddon, Whitney Johnson or the rest of the 620 staff, no one is more excited than me WDAE gets to call itself the flagship of the Rays. This is a natural fit and just the beginning of a journey where we hope to build an even bigger fan base for a team which will one day bring the Bay area a World Series championship.”
Play-by-play voices Andy Freed and Dave Wills and pregame/postgame host Rich Herrera will all be returning for their fifth season of Rays baseball. Also returning for the 2009 season will be the 30-minute pregame show, hour-long postgame show, and weekly “Countdown to Opening Day” radio show, which will begin on February 2 and continue throughout Spring Training.
The Rays are launching a weekly one-hour manager’s show on WDAE outside of the game broadcast window.
This season will mark the fifth year the Rays have held their own radio rights.
Dodgers Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully has been selected as the Top Sportscaster of All-Time by the American Sportscasters Association. The announcement was made by ASA President Lou Schwartz. The ASA previously voted Scully as the “Sportscaster of the Century” in 2000.
The 2009 season will be Scully’s 60th with the Dodgers, which is the longest tenure of any sports broadcaster with one team in all of sports. Scully last month was inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame and has been named California Sportscaster of the Year a record 28 times. In 2005, USA Today ranked the Dodgers’ radio broadcast team as Major League Baseball’s best, based on a technical rating, a fan rating, and an entertainment rating. Scully and his colleagues, Rick Monday and Charley Steiner, earned 28.5 points out of a possible 30.
The New York native was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. In 2001, the press box at Dodger Stadium was named in his honor. Throughout his career, Scully has called 25 World Series and 12 All-Star Games.
Scully headlines the ASA’s list of the Top 50 Sportscasters of All-Time, followed in the top 10 by Mel Allen, Red Barber, Curt Gowdy, Howard Cosell, Bob Costas, Jim McKay, Keith Jackson, Al Michaels and Dick Enberg. Lou Schwartz presented Scully with a bronze microphone at Dodger Stadium on September 24, 2000.
The ASA Board of Directors includes Dick Enberg, Jon Miller, Jim Nantz, Bill Walton and Lou Schwartz, and has been in existence since 1980.
Dave Barnett, who has enjoyed a broadcasting career in both Texas and nationally, is joining the Texas Rangers radio broadcast team, it was announced Friday.
Barnett has agreed to a multi-year deal to partner with Eric Nadel on all Rangers radio broadcasts on the club’s flagship station, KRLD (1080 AM) and the team’s radio network.
“The Rangers are thrilled to be adding Dave Barnett to our radio broadcasts,” commented Rangers President Nolan Ryan. “Dave is an accomplished announcer with strong Texas ties who will bring passion and knowledge to our broadcasts. He and Eric Nadel will make a great radio team.”
Barnett, 50, has spent the last 13 years with ESPN, serving as a play-by-play voice for baseball, basketball, football, and golf telecasts. He is currently covering major college basketball and football games for ESPN, ABC, and ESPN Radio and has done Major League Baseball for ESPN and ESPN Radio since 1996. Barnett was also a member of ESPN’s College World Series coverage from 2001-2004.
A native and current resident of Denton, Barnett is a familiar voice to fans in Texas. He joined the sports staff at KRLD AM Radio in 1978 before succeeding the late Mark Holtz as the radio voice of the Dallas Mavericks on WBAP Radio in 1981, the NBA’s youngest broadcaster at age 23. Barnett did radio and television games for the Mavericks through the 1987-88 season, winning a pair of Commentator of the Year Awards from UPI. He then spent nine seasons as the television voice of the San Antonio Spurs before joining ESPN in 1996. Barnett returned to the Spurs for the 2006-07 campaign.
He previously broadcast Rangers baseball in 1990 on cable television for Home Sports Entertainment. He has also worked on pre-season National Football League telecasts for the Houston Oilers, Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, and Chicago Bears and did the Southwest Conference Game of the Week for Raycom Sports from 1989-1996.
Barnett, a 1979 graduate of the University of North Texas, will begin broadcasting games during spring training in Arizona. He teams with Nadel, who enters his 31st year as a Rangers broadcaster in 2009, his 15th as the lead radio voice.
“When I learned that Dave was interested in the position, I was extremely excited,” said Nadel. “As the process unfolded and I realized this was going to work out, I was ecstatic. I have known Dave for more than 30 years, and I am a huge fan of his work.”
Barnett replaces Victor Rojas, who accepted a position with the new MLB Network in December after five seasons in the Rangers radio booth. Barnett is also expected to do a limited number of Rangers television broadcasts when lead television announcer Josh Lewin is away on other assignments.
The Oakland Athletics and KTRB Radio 860 AM have agreed to terms on a one-year contract for the station to serve as flagship of the A’s Radio Network for the upcoming 2009 season.
Financial terms were not released.
KTRB, a San Francisco-based station featuring a daily talk format, will broadcast all 162 regular season games, plus 17 Spring Training games. The station’s first broadcast is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 28 when Oakland hosts the Cleveland Indians in a 1 p.m. (noon PST) exhibition game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
“We are delighted to join KTRB in this broadcast partnership,” said Ken Pries, A’s Vice President of Broadcasting & Communications. “Their powerful 50,000-watt signal will provide our fans with a clear and consistent broadcast throughout the Bay Area.”
"As the Bay Area's newest radio station, we are very proud to be the new flagship radio station for the Oakland A's and the Oakland A's Radio Network,” said Jim P. Pappas, KTRB AM 860’s vice president and general manager. “Both of our organizations have a long tradition of service to the Bay Area and to Northern California . This new relationship will mark a major step forward for both the A's and KTRB AM 860 in 2009."
Beyond the Feb. 28 debut broadcast, KTRB will also air all three games of the Bay Bridge preseason series with the San Francisco Giants April 2-4.
The Athletics’ radio broadcast team returns intact for the 2009 season, featuring play-by-play announcers Ken Korach and Vince Cotroneo, as well as Ray Fosse, who joins the booth as an expert analyst for non-televised games, and post-game host Robert Buan. Korach enters his 14th season in the A’s radio booth, his fourth as the club’s lead play-by-play voice, while Cotroneo begins his fourth year of Oakland play-by-play, as well as host of the A’s pre-game show. Fosse, former major league all-star catcher and dean of A’s broadcasters, celebrates his 24th season with the Athletics’ radio team, providing in-game analysis and a daily interview segment for the pre-game show. Buan returns for his 10th campaign as host of “Extra Innings,” the A’s post-game show, and his 15th season in the team’s front office.
During the regular season, KTRB broadcasts will begin 50 minutes before first pitch with an extended pre-game show hosted by Cotroneo. Each pre-game show includes “The Bob Geren Show”—Korach’s daily visit with the A’s manager—and “The A’s Warm-Up,” an interview segment hosted by Fosse. The “Extra Innings with Robert Buan” post-game talk show features interviews, clubhouse reaction and listener phone calls.
Dodger Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully will be among the distinguished list of broadcasting professionals inducted into the 2008 class of the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame in New York City tomorrow night. The ceremony, hosted by CBS’ Jim Nantz, will be held tomorrow night in Manhattan at the New York Hilton and is the culmination of a selection process by more than 80 industry leaders from national broadcast networks, cable sports networks, leagues, teams, and related organizations.
Going into the HOF alongside Scully will be Marvin Bader (ABC Olympics), Chet Forte (ABC Sports), Curt Gowdy (ABC, CBS, and NBC), Teddy Nathanson (director, NBC Sports), Don Ohlmeyer (ABC and NBC), Val Pinchbeck (NFL), Bob Seiderman (CBS and Fox Sports), and Charlie Steinberg (Ampex and Sony). The Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame, formed in 2007 to honor sports TV industry innovators and leaders, announced its inaugural class last year, which included broadcasting legends such as Roone Arledge, Howard Cosell, Jim McKay, and Ed Sabol.
Scully is expected to accept the award via videotape due to the lengthy travel required to be in attendance.
Next season will be Scully’s 60th with the Dodgers, which is the longest tenure of any sports broadcaster with one team in all of sports. Last month, Scully was honored by Pacific Pioneers Broadcasters with the Art Gilmore Career Achievement Award and he has been named California Sportscaster of the Year a record 28 times, while also receiving awards from the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Association (SCSB) and the Radio and Television News Association of Southern California (RTNA). Scully took home the Best Radio Play-by-Play and Best Television Play-by-Play awards from the SCSB and won the prestigious lifetime achievement award from the RTNA.
The New York native was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. In July 2000, Scully was named the “Sportscaster of the 20th Century” by more than 500 national members of the American Sportscasters Association. He has been named the country’s Outstanding Sportscaster four times, and California Sportscaster of the Year 24 times by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. In 2001, the press box at Dodger Stadium was named in his honor. Throughout his career, Scully has called 25 World Series and 12 All-Star Games.
The Chicago White Sox today announced Darrin Jackson will serve as the team’s radio color analyst on game broadcasts this season on WSCR 670 AM. Jackson will partner with play-by-play voice Ed Farmer.
The 2009 season will mark Jackson’s 10th with the organization in a broadcasting role – having served the previous nine seasons in the television booth alongside Ken “Hawk” Harrelson. Former White Sox pitcher and last season’s radio color analyst Steve Stone will partner with Harrelson on the television side this coming season.
“We are very pleased to have D.J. back in 2009, as it was our hope all along that he would come back in the radio booth.” said Brooks Boyer, White Sox chief marketing officer. “He has been a member of the White Sox family for a long time, and we truly value the insight and professionalism he brings to the broadcast booth.”
“This season, we are confident Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson will partner to provide White Sox fans a solid broadcast experience,” said Mitch Rosen, WSCR 670 AM program director. “The broadcast will benefit from Ed and Darrin’s depth and first-hand baseball knowledge.”
All 2009 White Sox regular season games will be broadcast on WSCR 670 AM, the team’s flagship radio partner since 2006.
Herbert Jude Score, 75, passed away at his home today in Rocky River, OH after a lengthy illness. Mr. Score thrilled baseball fans as a power pitcher in the American League from 1955 to 1959.
Cleveland Indians fans relied on his skill as a game announcer from 1964 to 1997. His final play-by-play was Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. In 1998 he was inducted into the Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
Visitation is as follows: Friday, November 14, 2008 from 1-3pm and 6-9pm at Busch Funeral Home, 21369 Center Ridge Road in Fairview Park, Ohio.
Funeral Mass of Christian Burial for Mr. Score will be celebrated at St. Christopher’s Church, 20141 Detroit Road, Rocky River Road, Ohio Saturday, November 15 at 10:30am. Interment will be in Lakewood Park Cemetery located at 22025 Detroit Road, Rocky River, Ohio.
Memorial contributions may be made to Cornerstone of Hope, 5905 Brecksville Road, Independence, Ohio, 44131; or Cleveland Indians Charities, c/o Cleveland Indians Community Outreach Department, 2401 Ontario Street, Cleveland, Ohio 44115.