SBD/21/Sports Media

TCI, TIME WARNER DISCUSS CABLE SPORTS DEAL

     TCI, Inc. and Time Warner are discussing a joint venture to
"launch a group of cable sports networks," according to this
morning's WALL STREET JOURNAL.  Sources close to both companies
said the deal would include five new sports cable channels,
including one with Time Warner's Sports Illustrated magazine, a
women's sports channel, and other channels that would air local
sports news.  The channels would "be bundled in a so-called tier
and would not be part of basic cable TV service."  TCI and Time
Warner control 18M of the nation's 60M cable homes, and both
companies stand to gain from a partnership.  Time Warner does not
have a large sports programming center, and TCI "could use Time
Warner's subscribers and its Sports Illustrated franchise to help
boost its own sports presence on a national level."  TCI's
Liberty Media already has a wide array of regional sports
ventures, and owns or has an interest in 14 regional sports
networks, most of which "would not be included in any deal with
Time Warner."  Liberty may also invest in the Classic Sports
Network that is set to start next year.  Classic Sports is backed
by New York investment bank, Allen & Co., and AT&T, and could be
"folded into a joint venture with Time Warner."  Finally, a TCI-
Time Warner partnership would allow the companies to share the
risks in launching a sports network in a crowded field, dominated
by ABC/Capital Cities' ESPN and ESPN2 (John Lippman, WALL STREET
JOURNAL, 12/21).
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