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Rupert Murdoch's "football mega-investment has fumbled in its drive to carry an audience in to Fox' prime-time lineup on Sunday's." Ratings are down 13% compared to last season when there was no football lead-in and two Sunday shows have already been cancelled. Murdoch's quest for new affiliates has led to "viewer confusion," left a trail of "bitter" former Fox affils, and two "simmering lawsuits." These troubles, combined with a 17% drop on "advertiser-rich" Thursday, were enough to cost Fox Network Chief Sandy Grunshow his job (Eric Mink, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/5). PEACOCK WATCH: "Speculation mounted on Wall Street" that GE was close to selling its retail brokerage operation, Kidder, Peabody & Co. A Wall Street source said "the disposition of Kidder was linked to an effort by GE to sell its NBC television network" (REUTERS/BOSTON GLOBE, 10/4). ....The Patriots are a "financial bonanza" for WBZ Channel 4 in Boston. The team is attracting huge audiences at a time when "TV sponsor money that would have gone to baseball and hockey is looking for action and ... political advertising, always sold for a premium, is pouring in" (Jack Craig, BOSTON GLOBE, 10/4). After declining ratings, NBC declined to renew its deal to cover the Heisman Trophy presentation. ESPN announced it had reached agreement to cover it in '95 (Milton Kent, Baltimore SUN, 10/5). EASY AS ABC: ABC won the second straight week of the new fall season, finishing with a 12.2 rating, .2 points over NBC, and .5 points over third place CBS (Mult., 10/5). Bad News -- Monday Night Football continued to be slide, and fell 3% below last year's average. In Baltimore, it placed third in its time slot (Milton Kent, Baltimore SUN, 10/5). BOXING'S BACK ON CBS: CBS Sports is now the only broadcast net with boxing, and N.Y. TIMES' Richard Sandomir writes they may have scored a "coup" by "snaring a fighter like Oscar de la Hoya." CBS hopes it can "sustain boxing beyond this year" and that their sponsor Quaker State will return. In the past, advertisers have been "reluctant about the image" of boxing. CBS Sports Senior VP Rick Gentile: "We're not in this to be minor leagues. We're optimistic we'll be in boxing for a long time" (NEW YORK TIMES, 10/5).
New Pres. Harvey Schiller "is expected to use his contacts with event organizers" to help secure Ted Turner's position in sports. Michael Hiestand of USA TODAY writes of a "very preliminary" interest in a Winter Goodwill Games, possibly in '99. Schiller and Turner also still hope to "secure some involvement" in the '96 Atlanta Games (USA TODAY, 10/5)....TNT posted strong ratings for the third quarter as all five NFL on TNT games ranked among the seven highest-rated basic cable programs in the quarter. TNT is averaging an 8.7, its best start ever (THE DAILY)....Avis has allocated part of its baseball advertising investment to Prime Network telecasts of the Arizona Fall League next month. Eight games will be covered (Jack Craig, BOSTON GLOBE, 10/4)....N.Y. POST's Phil Mushnick criticizes SportsChannel New York for selling a half hour of airtime to "a trio of the country's most notorious scamdicappers" -- those 1- 900 football handicappers (N.Y. POST, 10/4)....CCTV, the national network of the People's Republic of China, has acquired the ATP Tour's Tier 1 broadcasting package, which includes the IBM/ATP Tour World Championship in Frankfurt and the ATP Tour World Doubles Championship in Indonesia (THE DAILY)....Empire Sports Network and Greater Rochester Cable launched an agreement that will bring the Sports Network to Rochester. Time Warner's Greater Rochester Cablevision has nearly 200,000 subscribers. Empire Sports carries the Sabres (THE DAILY)....Time Warner cable TV systems in New York City announced today that a $1.045M license fee credit received from Madison Square Garden Network for canceled Yankees games will be passed on to system customers as credits on their cable bills during the next several weeks. For subscribers to SportsChannel, Time Warner's cable systems previously announced that subscribers would receive the premium service for free from August 12 through the end of September (THE DAILY).