FARMERS FIELD: The Play Fair at Farmers Field Coalition, a group of environmental activists, anti-poverty groups and law professors, has sued the state of California to challenge the constitutionality of a state law opponents say gives special treatment to Farmers Field developer Anschutz Entertainment Group. AEG plans to build a downtown L.A. football stadium next to its L.A. Live entertainment complex in hopes of attracting an NFL team to the city. Senate Bill 292, signed into law last year, speeds up environmental review of the estimated $1.1-billion project, in part by bypassing initial review by the Los Angeles County Superior Court of any challenge and sending the case directly to the state Court of Appeals.
SPORTS TV: Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN unit has reached a $5.6 billion deal with Major League Baseball giving it television, radio and digital programming rights for an additional eight years. The contract, which reportedly nearly doubles what ESPN is now paying, starts in 2014 and extends ESPN’s rights through 2021. It includes one annual wild-card game plus additional regular season and special games. There also will be rights to produce a new, daily baseball studio show, additional hours for the “Baseball Tonight” show and other new programming. Rights for coverage on ESPN Radio, ESPN International and ESPN Deportes also will expand. ESPN has been broadcasting MLB games since 1990.
WASTE HAULING: Two Los Angeles City Council committees are recommending that the city’s waste hauling services move toward an exclusive franchise system. The Energy and Environment Committee and the Ad Hoc Committee on Waste Reduction and Recycling are in favor of a Bureau of Sanitation proposal that would divide the city into 11 collection areas in which franchise agreements would be given to a limited number of haulers. The recommendation went against a proposal by City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, who wants a non-exclusive franchise system enabling more haulers to operate and be able to negotiate directly with business customers.
POT SHOP BAN: Local medical marijuana proponents have filed signatures to force a referendum they hope will overturn the L.A. City Council’s July ban on medical marijuana stores. A coalition of medical marijuana patients, dispensary owners and workers say they have filed 50,000 signatures from Los Angeles voters with the City Clerk’s Office, nearly twice the number required to qualify a referendum. If the city clerk validates enough signatures, the referendum should appear on the March 2013 city primary election ballot. It’s estimated that Los Angeles is home to about 1,000 medical marijuana dispensaries.
LAX TRAFFIC: The number of passengers flying through Los Angeles International Airport continued to rise in July, keeping the airport on pace for its best year since the recession. Los Angeles World Airports said that LAX handled 6.2 million passengers in July, up about 2 percent compared with same month a year earlier. For the first seven months of the year, passenger traffic rose 3.3 percent to 37.1 million passengers, more than in the same period in 2007, the year LAX hit a pre-recession peak of 62.4 million passengers.
VISITING: Hotels in Los Angeles reported record occupancy rates in July as both domestic and foreign tourism rose and convention and conference business increased. The Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board said that an average of 84 percent of all rooms in the county were occupied in July, which is the highest rate for any month in the last 25 years. In addition, the average hotel occupancy rate was up 5 percent in the first seven months of the year compared with the same period a year earlier. The tourism board expects the county, which entertained 40 million visitors last year, will see 2.4 percent growth this year.
COMPETITION: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.’s application to market a drug that boosts the production of infection-fighting white blood cells in certain cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. The Tel Aviv, Israel company’s drug is a direct generic competitor to Amgen Inc.’s second oldest drug, Neupogen. (See page 8.) To settle a patent infringement lawsuit by the Thousand Oaks biotech giant, Teva last year agree to delay launching its drug in the United States until November 2013.
DISTRIBUTION DEAL: DreamWorks Studios signed an agreement with London’s Mister Smith Entertainment to handle the licensing and servicing of future DreamWorks films and products in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, a role that had been handled by Walt Disney Co. Mister Smith is a new company led by David Garrett, a co-founder of Summit Entertainment. DreamWorks Studios, the independent Los Angeles studio headed by Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider, will continue to use Burbank-based Disney to distribute DreamWorks’ films in the United States and most other markets not covered by the Mister Smith deal.
MLK CHIEF: The non-profit in charge of opening a new hospital at the old Martin Luther King-Harbor Medical Center said that Dr. Elaine Batchlor, now chief medical officer at the L.A. Care public health plan, has been chosen as chief executive. The Martin Luther King Jr.-Los Angeles Healthcare Corp., a partnership between the Los Angeles County and University of California, plans to open Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in 2014. The county is building the new 130-bed acute care hospital on part of the 120-acre campus of the old hospital, which closed in 2007 after a series of ipatient deaths.
ACQUISITION: A unit of Salem Communications Corp. has acquired SermonSpice.com, an online media provider for churches and ministries, for an undisclosed amount. The Camarillo company said that SermonSpice of Fresno will augment the WorshipHouseMedia.com and WorshipHouseKids.com sites operated by its Salem Church Products division. SermonSpice distributes worship videos and sermon materials, and has relationships with more than 2,000 Christian filmmakers.
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