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Time Warner begins its interactive experiment in Orlando on Wednesday. The Orlando system "is undoubtedly the most futuristic network introduced so far" (Edmond Andrews, N.Y. TIMES, 12/12). Analyst Martyn Roetter of Decision Resources estimates that interactive TV could be a $300B business. "But, he says, less than 10% of that will materialize in the next five to seven years" (BUSINESS WEEK, 12/19 issue)....With NBC challenging Fox in a FCC petition alleging foreign-ownership, Republican Rep. Michael Oxley, a member of the House telecommunications committee, plans to file a bill to overturn the limits on foreigners owning U.S. broadcast networks (W.S. JOURNAL, 12/12). In Boston, Frederic Biddle writes that the fight "might make the broadcast networks ripe for foreign ownership -- a replay of what happened to Hollywood's movie studios. Or it might stop upstart Fox in its tracks" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/11).... Cablevision Chair Charles Dolan is profiled in the L.A. TIMES. One cable exec: "He's like Darth Vader dressed up in a Howdy Doody outfit" (L.A. TIMES, 12/11)....Asked how much has the baseball and hockey situations affected major ad agencies, Bruce Mason, CEO & Chair of Foote, Cone & Belding, replied: "The networks by and large have scrambled to replace the audience loss with different programming -- so, very little" ("Bloomberg Business News," 12/12).
"How spooked is TSN by CTV's plans to start up a rival Canadian sports channel (with regional programming)?," asks William Houston in Toronto. "Insiders say TSN is particularly concerned about the huge B.C. lower mainland market and the fact that TSN prime time on the West Coast consists of canned progamming from Toronto." TSN is seriously considering renting studio space in Vancouver to do their 11:00pm (ET) sports news show. CTV's proposed regional channel, yet to be approved by the government, would provide local programming in four regions of Canada (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 12/10). LABATT EXPANDING? John Labatt Ltd., parent company of TSN, would like to "bolster its broadcast business but it has been a tough slog to find a takeover candidate," according to Labatt President George Taylor. Instead, Labatt is expanding its broadcast and related production holdings internally (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 12/10).
Sports-Tech Int'l, a company that makes computerized video- editing systems for sports teams, said Friday it is being acquired by Dainichi Electronics of Tokyo for $1.1M. The sale could be completed by next August. Dainichi Electronics is a semiconductor maker with about $100M in annual sales (James McNair, MIAMI HERALD, 12/10).