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The Dodger from Down Under

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LOS ANGELES: Rupert Murdoch is reportedly close to a $350 million deal to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers. Although the price is more than double the previous big league record $172 million paid for the Baltimore Orioles in 1993, the Dodgers are a bargain, not least because they own their stadium and draw over three million loyal fans a year. More important, the purchase would give News Corp the ability to control both sides of the sports equation as a team owner and a broadcaster. Murdochĺs Fox network and regional cable channels have played a key role in driving up the fees paid teams for televising games. By owning the Dodgers, as well as the NFL franchise Murdoch hopes to lure to Chavez Ravine, News Corp would lock in both popular sports programming and a cut of those fees. Worse, if he gets his way, they'll never come back to Brooklyn.