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It Will Be Tough to Duck Fox Anymore

Fox Sports West 2 was in hot water. The new channel was on the verge of being turned into Duck soup.

But Orange County Superior Court Judge Ronald Kline on Wednesday ruled in favor of Fox Sports West 2, denying a preliminary injunction request by the Mighty Ducks that their games be taken off Fox Sports West 2 and be put back on Fox Sports West.

The ruling means that Fox Sports West 2 is going to survive.

In making his ruling, Judge Kline said that Fox Sports “is not trying to deny anyone the right to view games.”

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Then it must be the cable operators.

Like it or not, it’s time for cable operators to bite the bullet and add Fox Sports West 2. They don’t have to begin paying until after the baseball season, and then it’s 75 cents a month per subscriber.

Kitty Cohen, general manager of Fox Sports West, points out that the cost for Prime Ticket when it launched 12 years ago, with less inventory than West 2, was also 75 cents.

And while the cable operators are at it, they should also add FX if they’re not already carrying it. Fox’s national cable network--formerly listed as fX but soon to change to FX so that its name no longer looks like a typographical error--is becoming a must for sports fans.

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While Fox Sports West 2 had Oregon State-UCLA Thursday night, FX had Oregon-USC. Many people couldn’t see either game. Meanwhile, Fox Sports West had to carry Washington-Arizona State, a game of much lesser interest, because of the Pacific 10’s deal with Fox.

FX will have a baseball game of the week this season, usually Monday nights. Tentatively, it will have the Dodgers and Angels in their first regular-season game on June 17, plus the Dodgers and Texas Rangers in another interleague game on June 30, and the San Diego Padres and Dodgers on Sept. 23.

Counting games on regional sports networks such as Fox Sports West and Fox Sports West 2, games on FX and the Saturday games on the Fox network, Fox will show about one-third of the country’s televised baseball games this season. Fox Sports West will have 32 Angel games, and Fox Sports West 2 will have 40 Dodger games.

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KIIS-AM (1150), which becomes the Dodgers’ flagship radio station after this season, is moving toward an all-sports format and may be ready to go on the air with it March 10. But this will be one L.A. all-sports station without Joe McDonnell.

McDonnell, sources said, had been all but hired by KIIS. All the details had been worked out, he had been introduced around the station, a production team was in place for a 2-6 p.m. show, and the station had bought a plane ticket for McDonnell so he could go the Dodgers’ training camp at Vero Beach, Fla.

But then, the sources said, McDonnell was told the Dodgers had vetoed his hiring.

McDonnell declined comment, and Roy Laughlin, the general manager of KIIS AM and FM, said it was his decision not to hire McDonnell.

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“I told Joe to blame me, not the Dodgers,” Laughlin said. “The Dodgers have control over the play-by-play announcers but not our announcers.”

Let’s hope that’s the case. Any attempt by the Dodgers to influence Laughlin would be wrong.

And, besides, having house men on your flagship station makes for boring programming and drives listeners away.

McDonnell is the co-host, with Jim Gott, of KABC’s two-hour “Sportstalk” program, which figures to be dropped after this baseball season.

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McDonnell was supposed to be KIIS’ marquee host, but now apparently it will be Jim Rome, who will continue doing his syndicated show on XTRA and will do a different, L.A.-oriented show for KIIS.

KIIS and XTRA are both owned by Jacor Communications. KIIS-AM, currently a 5,000-watt station, is scheduled to have a 50,000-watt antenna in place before it carries Dodger games next season.

Laughlin said it is too early to discuss a talent lineup, which he said has not been set. But sources indicate that, besides Rome, it will include a simulcast of XTRA’s “Big Show” with Steve Mason, John Ireland and Jeanne Zelasko, the “Fabulous Sports Babe,” Vic “The Brick” Jacobs, Bob Golic and the “Sports Gods,” Dave Smith and Joey Haim.

If the Dodgers object to McDonnell, wait until they get a load of the tasteless “Sports Gods.”

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TV-Radio Notes

Recommended viewing: ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” series has an outstanding program, “Breaking the Line: Jackie Robinson’s Legacy,” today at 5:30 p.m., followed at 6:30 by a 90-minute “Town Meeting” discussion, with ABC’s Ted Koppel as host. ESPN interviewed more than 300 people for the “Outside the Lines” show, including 93 of 107 living opponents of the 1947 Dodgers. The result is a show, more than a year in the making, that documents the rampant racism felt by Robinson and the African American players who followed him into major league baseball. Players from three franchises said they took votes on whether to play if Robinson played. In one segment, the Dodgers’ Don Newcombe says that he and Robinson, in 1954, were told by the general manager of the Chase Hotel in St. Louis that they could stay in the hotel but couldn’t swim in the pool. “What was he thinking, that ink would come out of our bodies and turn his water black? I don’t know,” Newcombe says.

Channel 13 is again going all out for the L.A. Marathon. For Sunday’s coverage, which begins at 8 a.m., the station will have 33 camera positions and 13 announcers, with Barry Tompkins and Larry Rawson back as co-anchors. Dave Goetz, who is producing his second marathon, calls it “the biggest undertaking by any independent station in the country.” Tawny Little and Tony Hernandez will be at the start and finish line, KIIS’ Vic “The Brick” Jacobs will interact with the runners and Tim Cloone will conduct interviews while running in the race. . . . KNX reporter Laura Ornest will also run in the race and file reports via cellular phone. . . . Continuous radio coverage, beginning at 6 a.m., will be provided by KACD and KDCD, both 103.1 FM. . . . Race president Bill Burke said he and Channel 13 worked out a few hitches and signed a three-year extension this week. “We think it was very important to make the race available to as many viewers as possible and, for continuity, to keep it on the same station,” Burke said.

Another big event in Los Angeles this weekend is the Nissan Open at Riviera. USA offers coverage again today, with CBS taking over Saturday and Sunday. Today’s coverage on USA will be delayed at 4 p.m., but for DirecTV subscribers, the USA coverage is live at 1 p.m. because DirecTV uses an East Coast USA feed.

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Boxing beat: CBS gets back into boxing when it begins an eight-fight series with a Buster Douglas-Brian Scott fight March 30, and ABC begins a 10-fight series with a lightweight bout Saturday on “Wide World of Sports.” ABC televised only three fights last year. Also on “Wide World” Saturday, ABC will feature Sugar Ray Leonard bouts against Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns. Later Saturday in Atlantic City, N.J., Leonard fights Hector Camacho on a pay-per-view card that begins at 6 p.m. . . . Medical report: NBC’s Charlie Jones is back at his home in La Jolla after a 10-day hospital stay following surgery for a bleeding cancerous tumor in his bladder. “The good news is, they got it all,” Jones said.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

What Los Angeles Is Watching

A sampling of L.A. Nielsen ratings for sports programs Feb. 22-23.

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SATURDAY

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Event Ch. Rating Share Track and field: Mobil Invitational at Fairfax, Va. 4 2.7 7 Golf: Chrysler Classic at Tucson 7 2.1 6 College basketball: Providence at Notre Dame 4 1.8 6 College basketball: Cincinnati at DePaul 2 1.4 5 College basketball: South Carolina at Tennessee 2 1.3 4 College basketball: Georgetown at Memphis 2 1.0 3 Hockey: Phoenix at Mighty Ducks 11 0.9 3

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SUNDAY

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Event Ch. Rating Share Pro basketball: New York at Lakers 4 9.1 22 College basketball: Duke at UCLA 7 5.7 16 Pro basketball: San Antonio at Houston 4 4.0 11 Golf: Chrysler Classic at Tucson 7 3.2 8 Skiing: World Alpine Championships 7 1.7 4 Hockey: Vancouver at Mighty Ducks 9 1.6 3 College basketball: Michigan at Purdue 2 1.3 4 College basketball: Arkansas at Mississippi State 2 1.3 1

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Note: Each rating point represents 49,424 L.A. households.


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