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Sony Corp. announced yesterday that it has taken a "staggering" $2.7B write-off on Sony Pictures Entertainment, on top of a $510M operating loss on the studio. The news, "shook the entertainment industry and raised new questions about Sony's long-range commitment to Hollywood" (L.A. TIMES, 11/18)....Milton Kent notes this weekend "will be fairly noteworthy for women sports announcers," with two all-female crews covering live network TV events. On ABC, ESPN's Robin Roberts and analysts Betsy Nagelsen and Pam Shriver work the Virginia Slims Championships. Meanwhile, ESPN kicks off women's college basketball with Beth Mowlins, Mimi Griffin and Christine Brennan (Baltimore SUN, 11/18).
The Patriots announced that will leave WBZ-AM radio next season and shift their broadcasts to "rock 'n roll WBCN," marking the first time in the team's 35 years that play-by-play will be on the FM dial. Although no figures were announced, WBCN's owner, Infinity Broadcasting reportedly will pay the Pats $3.5M next season and $10.5M over the next three years, "the most lucrative package" in the NFL. WBZ is paying the team $1.85M this season. WBZ offered close to $2M, as did American Radio Systems on behalf of WEEI. WBCN GM Tony Beradini: "Yes, it is a lot of money, but I believe that three years from now this deal is going to look like a bargain." The fact that all Pats games are expected to be on TV in the foreseeable future because of home sellouts "handicaps radio sales." On the positive side, the fact that the team also owns Foxboro Stadium provides merchandising possibilities, "linking sponsors to signage in the stadium" (Jack Craig, BOSTON GLOBE, 11/18). The Pats are Infinity's fifth NFL team, which includes the Cowboys, Eagles, Buccaneers and Jets. It also has the Mets, Rangers, 76ers and Flyers, and is looking to establish a sports-marketing network, "offering advertisers key spots in multiple markets with better rates than they could get in single-station deals" (Jim Baker, BOSTON HERALD, 11/18).
Cable-giant TCI said it will proceed with a "sweeping plan to split the company into four separate businesses, each with its own class of stock." Wall Street "reacted favorably" to the news with TCI's class A stock rising $.75 to $24.125 a share. TCI is creating a holding company to house four separate divisions: domestic cable operations, domestic programming, technology ventures, and international cable and programming. By splitting the company, TCI is betting that Wall Street "will assign a greater value to the parts than the whole." TCI execs promised to give a "clearer picture" at an investor meeting December 6 (Robichaux & Shapiro, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/18).