Tuesday morning headlines

L.A. prices keep dropping: The closely followed S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index showed a 25.3 percent decline in June from a year earlier. Only a few other metro areas, among them Phoenix, Miami and Vegas, had bigger drops. Among the 20 metropolitan areas monitored, home prices fell a record 15.9 percent from a year earlier, though just 0.5 percent from the prior month (L.A. was down 1.4 percent). (S&P release, AP)

Universal gridlock?: That massive development proposed for Universal City - 1.5 million square feet of new commercial, office and residential space for Lankershim Boulevard - would add at least 14,000 car trips per day to the southeast San Fernando Valley, according to an environmental study. "What has been proposed is too intense," said Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge. An official with developer Thomas Properties said residents should focus on the benefits the project would bring. Uh-huh. From the Daily News:

Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Bud Ovrum reiterated the support by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's office for a project that he said solves more issues than it creates. Ovrum said the project's location makes it prime real estate for transit-oriented development and, perhaps more importantly, grows the city's entertainment sector. "The truth is we are in an almost life-and-death struggle to preserve and grow our entertainment jobs in Los Angeles and particularly in the Valley," Ovrum said. "We can always have less traffic - we just won't have any jobs." Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who has said he would try to work with the developer to downsize the project, said the traffic the project will produce is "unmitigatable."

Ticketmaster in China: The Olympics were very, very good for the West Hollywood-based ticketing service. A total of 6.8 million tickets to the Beijing Games were sold world-wide, the most ever for the Olympics. Ticketmaster distributed tickets to the international Olympic committees and handled all domestic ticket sales. The company, which was just spun off from IAC/InterActiveCorp, wants to expand its presence in China. From the WSJ:

China poses additional challenges. Apart from the lack of a widely used online-payment system, Chinese customers have different habits, such as the desire to receive tickets at the point where they pay. In other markets, customers are generally comfortable paying first and getting their tickets later. In China, some companies employ couriers to hand-deliver tickets to customers. Mr. Moriarty said rolling out more digital tickets could alleviate that need. Early Olympics sales rounds were beset with problems as the volume of interest exceeded expectations last year, causing the system to collapse under the heavy load.

Stocks recover - sort of: The market was mostly flat in early trading, though keep in mind that volume for the last week of August is light and that can often mean big swings either way. Meanwhile, oil is up on concerns about a new storm that could be headed to the Gulf.

MGM not for sale: The movie studio denied a report in BusinessWeek that it was being shopped around, though it has retained Goldman Sachs "to explore enhancements to MGM's long-term capital structure." That apparently involves a $3.7 billion term loan. From Variety:

The BusinessWeek story is a blow to the company, coming on the heels of the highly publicized exit of Paula Wagner from United Artists after a tenure that led to only two films, "Lions for Lambs" and the upcoming "Valkyrie." There has been speculation that MGM was looking to neuter UA in an effort to siphon from UA's own $500 million Merrill Lynch line of credit. But sources said MGM isn't interested in UA's coin and is committed to hiring a veteran film exec to fill Wagner's shoes. Insiders say former Paramount production prexy Alli Shearmur was offered the job to work alongside UA principal Tom Cruise but turned it down.

SEC on ESPN: The Southeastern Conference has decided against starting its own network and announced a 15-year deal with Disney-owned ESPN for all of its televised sports. Deal is believed to be worth $2.25 billion. The pact follows a 15-year agreement the SEC signed with CBS earlier in the month. (THR)

NYT sagging on Web: It seems that everybody has problems in Casablanca - at least if you're in the news business. Total Internet revenues in July fell 11.7 percent from the previous month and Internet revenues accounted for 12.5 percent of the NYT's overall revenue in July, down from 13.4 percent in June. (Silicon Alley Insider)

Remember Executive Life?: The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a $241-million award won by the state of California in a lawsuit stemming from the takeover of the failed insurer in 1991. The appellate court ordered a new trial to recalculate the damages that Artemis, one of the investors, should pay the state. The case has involved a junk bond portfolio, a French bank, an alleged conspiracy, the California Department of Insurance, and LOTS of legal fees. (AP)

Lacter on radio: This morning's business chat with KPCC's Steve Julian looks at the early warning signs of the housing bubble and the debt problems now faced by Univision. Also available at kpcc.org and on podcast.

More by Mark Lacter:
American-US Air settlement with DOJ includes small tweak at LAX
Socal housing market going nowhere fast
Amazon keeps pushing for faster L.A. delivery
Another rugged quarter for Tribune Co. papers
How does Stanford compete with the big boys?
Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
Best to low-ball today's employment report
Further fallout from airport shootings
Crazy opening for Twitter*
Should Twitter be valued at $18 billion?
Recent stories:
Letter from Down Under: Welcome to the Homogenocene
One last Florida photo
Signs of Saturday: No refund
'I Am Woman,' hear them roar
Bobcat crossing
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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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