SBD/11/Sports Media

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         WB, Warner Bros.' addition to the broadcast TV market, kicks
    off tonight.  In New York, Verne Gay notes that the network has a
    lot of similarities to Fox's start-up.  Three of the shows slated
    for tonight compare with early Fox shows.  "The reason WB has
    borrowed so freely from Fox's 'How to Start a Network' playbook
    is simply that the network's president and part-owner, Jamie
    Kellner, helped write it."  Kellner was Fox's longtime president.
    Also, the United Paramount Network (UPN) begins January 16.
    "Observers say WB, as well as UPN, are beginning life at a
    propitious time.  Foremost, the network marketplace for
    advertising time is booming ... and both networks report that
    they've sold millions in commercial time already."  As for
    affiliates, WB will broadcast on all Tribune owned stations, as
    well as some small UHF stations.  WGN (Chicago) will account for
    20% of WB viewers (N.Y. NEWSDAY, 1/11).

    Print | Tags: Media

         CNN has moved its sports talk show "Calling All Sports" up
    90 minutes to 11:30, just after their "Sports Tonight" (Baltimore
    SUN, 1/11)....SportsChannel Chicago Senior VP/GM Jim Corno on the
    NHL work stoppage and the effect of no Blackhawks telecasts:
    "You've got revenue you're losing and expenses you're saving.  On
    the other side, a lot of savings are going into new programming,
    so in that regard, it costs us not to have the Hawks. ... But the
    big thing is you lose the product that bring people to the
    channel.  It's a matter of viewership" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/10).

    Print | Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Blackhawks, NHL, Media

         A proposed deal from Viacom to sell its cable systems for
    $2.3B to a minority partnership is under scrutiny by the FCC.
    The sale would save Viacom nearly $400M in capital gains taxes
    under a program to promote minority ownership in the TV industry.
    Senior officials at the agency say the deal will be closely
    examined, as the FCC is concerned it "will be a costly drain on
    federal tax revenue and will focus criticism on the FCC's
    programs to expand minority ownership in the TV and radio
    industry.  Critics have attacked the deal as a tax "windfall" for
    Viacom and the minority ownership program as "a racially biased
    set-aside."  Viacom is selling its cable systems to help pay off
    some of the debt it took on when they acquired Paramount
    Communications and merged with Blockbuster last year" (Paul
    Farhi, WASHINGTON POST, 1/11).

    Print | Tags: Media, Viacom

         For the last 12 years, every Viking home game in Minneapolis
    has been on broadcast on local TV due to a unique fund from
    General Mills.  The fund, which guaranteed home games would be
    televised locally if 90% of the tickets were sold 72 hours before
    the game, "ran dry last fall."  Now the Vikings and local
    broadcast channels must face the same rules of every other NFL
    team.  At the end of this season, WFTC-TV and KARE-TV teamed with
    the Vikings to run promotions and ads to get fans to buy tickets,
    and next fall that strategy will continue.  Local TV stations
    will have to "expend more effort to air home games, and blackouts
    might be costly to their images and incomes."  WTFC GM Rip
    Riordan said his station is now budgeting money to guarantee
    local broadcasts of some games next year, as Viking football
    greatly increased the visibility of the Fox affiliate.  Vikings
    Marketing Dir Kernal Buhler said the team will help the stations
    identify which home games will be difficult to sell out, and are
    working on ways to increase sales (Rachel Blount, Minneapolis
    STAR-TRIBUNE, 1/10).

    Print | Tags: Minnesota Vikings, NFL, Media, Wheaties
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