Friday, October 18, 2013

Could the Cubs be leaving WGN Radio?

That's the subject of speculation in today's Tom Taylor NOW column...

Rights fees for Chicago’s WGN (720) shot up when Sam Zell sold the Cubs to as much as $10 million a year, says the Chicago Tribune – and “maybe more.” Plus the team’s new ownership, the Ricketts family, hasn’t exactly endeared itself to the fans, and that’s showing up on the field and in the ratings. Now the Tribune-owned talk station wants a reduction in the rights fee, during a 2014 negotiating window that’s built into their deal. WGN boss Jimmy de Castro says “the contract calls for us to take a look at it, and we’re going to do that.” The Tribune paper says WGN is “losing significant money on the Cubs broadcasts, with listeners and advertisers tuning out a team that has lost 197 games in the last two years.” But how low will the Cubs go, and how much does de Castro want to keep them?...It's not hard to imagine CBS making a run at the Cubs. And the Dickey family has the Braves in Atlanta, so WLS would be in the mix, too. de Castro may find the field more crowded than he’d like.