SBD/12/Sports Media

TV NETWORKS SCRAMBLE TO PREPARE HOCKEY SCHEDULE

     With yesterday's settlement, local broadcasting and TV
networks began rushing to put together hockey coverage for the
abbreviated season.  ESPN and Fox both were waiting on a season
schedule from the league to finalize plans.   ESPN will have 14
telecasts, with a 39-game schedule for ESPN2 (Rudy Martzke, USA
TODAY, 1/12).  Fox, who just signed a five-year $155M deal with
the league, was scheduled to make its debut January 21 with the
All-Star Game.  Fox Sports spokesperson Vince Wladika told THE
SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY yesterday that the original marketing plan
will continue. Wladika:  "We have a marketing plan. The plan
itself was a nine month plan, now it just has to be scrunched and
be done in 90 days, or however it is when we first come on the
air."  Wladika said it was doubtful that Fox could begin
promotions this weekend, during the Cowboys/49ers NFC
Championship game, saying "at this late date it doesn't look
optimistic that we would be able to get something on time to put
on the air. ... The whole basic premise on selling the game,
whether its marketing, advertising, promotion, etc. doesn't
change.  That all remains exactly the same as we envisioned it
back in early October and late September. All that marketing
doesn't change. It is still the same sport, it is still the same
players" (THE DAILY).
     OTHER NETWORK NEWS:  In Canada, when the NHL confirms a
schedule, CBC's "Hockey Night in Canada" will get first pick of
coverage, TSN second, and then local deals (Vancouver PROVINCE,
1/12).  Ron Harrison, VP of Molstar Communications, the
production wing for Canadiens rights-holder Molson Breweries,
said sheduling is a "nightmare": "Normally, you'd have the better
part of September to work these things out.  Now, you've got to
deal with all the same problems within a 48-hour time frame"
(Allan Ryan, TORONTO STAR, 1/12).  The No. 1 announcing team for
Fox's hockey telecasts is reportedly Mike Emrick and John
Davidson.  A second team of Sean McDonough, and ex-Islander Denis
Potvin is also a possiblity.  James Brown is "the top candidate"
for studio host (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 1/12).
     A WORD FROM THEIR SPONSORS:  Tony Ponturo, VP of Corporate
and Media Sports Marketing for Anheuser-Busch, one of the NHL's
marketing partners, released the following to THE SPORTS BUSINESS
DAILY:  The settlement "is obviously good news for Anheuser-Busch
and our Bud Ice brand family.  With Bud Ice, we plan...on
following through with the original and complete marketing and
advertising program designed specially for the NHL and, most
importantly, its fans (THE DAILY).  John Helyar notes that A-B
was prepared to build the identity of its new Ice Draft around
being the "official beer of the NHL," but that they were left to
"swallow a lot of NHL pocket schedules and forgo other
promotions" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/12).  CBC Spokesperson Tom
Curzon said major advertisers, such as Molson and Ford Motors of
Canada, have confirmed their ad commitments for the season, but
other sponsors have found "alternative homes" for their dollars.
 McKim Media of Canada will try to negotiate discounts for some
of its clients that advertise on NHL games if audience "levels
dip from historic levels" (Marina Strauss, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL,
1/12).
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