SBD/1/Sports Media

BASEBALL STRIKE LEAVES TELEVISION EXECUTIVES WITH QUESTIONS

     As the work stoppage in baseball continues, "baseball
advertisers are growing increasingly concerned about the quality
of product they're buying" and the TV ratings that will follow,
according to a piece by INSIDE MEDIA's Langdon Brockington.
After contacting 18 TV stations that hold local rights to teams
in their markets to get "a fix on ad sales,"  Brockington reports
mixed responses.  Some stations characterize "sales as brisk,"
while others report "a lot of wait and sees."  Some "wary
advertisers" have been able to cut deals "containing protective
contingency plans" should replacements be used -- those could
include additional merchandise, guaranteed ratings, or
supplemental spots to "satisfy the advertisers' ratings
delivery."  Many broadcasters are "flexible" by offering
advertisers a two-tiered pricing structure, or allowing them to
withdraw from the telecast if replacements are used.  Whether or
not people will watch is also disputed.  BBDO Dir of Local
Broadcasting Pete Stassi is seeking guarantees for his clients
for a "monetary" refund "equivalent to a ratings decline."
Stassi: "We won't buy otherwise."  Anheuser-Busch has rating
guarantees "chiseled into each of its contracts."  Tony Ponturo,
A-B's VP/Sports Marketing:  "We have a guarantee of delivery; it
makes it simple, and protects us."  Some stations, such as San
Diego's KFMB-TV, won't air replacement games.  Nationally, The
Baseball Network is yet to lose any "long-term" advertisers, and
is reportedly signing on new sponsors (COWLES BUSINESS MEDIA,
1/30).
     NO REPLACEMENT RADIO IN TORONTO:  The FAN 1430, the radio
voice of the Blue Jays, announced that it will not broadcast
games with replacement players (TORONTO STAR, 2/1).  The Blue
Jays' TV partners -- TSN, Baton Broadcasting and CBC -- "are
taking a more cautious, pragmatic approach."  TSN President Jim
Thompson, noting that Labatt owns both the team and TSN, said it
would not be a "collective decision":  "Paul Beeston makes the
decision for the Blue Jays, we make the decision for TSN and
Labatt has to decide, as a sponsor of the product, what's best
for them" (TORONTO SUN, 2/1).
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