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The Patriots are hoping to expand coverage of their four exhibition games to a network of stations through six states -- including VT, CT and NH. The Patriots will sell almost all the ads and keep the revenue of their flagship WCVB-TV (Boston) coverage, but it could vary elsewhere (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/12)....Reports continue that CBS Broadcast Group President Howard Stringer may leave the network to head up the programming partnership between Bell, Atlantic, Nynex, and Pacific Telesis. DAILY VARIETY is reporting that CBS Inc. Chair Laurance Tisch has agreed to let Stringer out of his contract, although sources close to CBS deny that is the case (L.A. TIMES, 2/11)....Thomson Consumer Elections, who established the RCA Digital Satellite System, has signed on a primary sponsor of the Cale Yarborough NASCAR racing team (Thomson Consumer).
Viacom is looking to "strengthen its corporate image by leveraging Viacom as a brand halo over its high-profile entertainment and retail properties, a la Disney," according to this week's AD AGE. Viacom execs have been "informally soliticing ideas" from many major ad agencies. Sources say that Viacom "has been increasingly slapping its name on majority-owned subsidiaries like Paramount and merging merchandising and licensing operations under the Viacom name" (Warneford & McCarthy, AD AGE, 2/13 issue)....In a piece called "Chips Off The Block," NEWSWEEK looks at the Viacom/Blockbuster relationship, adding that Blockbuster is "one of marketing's great success stories, but competition and some legal woes may tarnish its otherwise bright future" (Jonnie Roberts, NEWSWEEK, 2/20 issue)....Sunday's CHICAGO TRIBUNE features a profile of Viacom as a "Media Monopoly in the Making" (Tim Jones, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/12).
In Portland, Jeff Baker writes that the Blazers "are losing television viewers as they continue to lose games." Ratings on KGW have dropped 10% from last season and have fallen "from the heights they hit three years ago" when the Balzers went to the finals. In fact, the Blazers have lost to "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune" in three of the last four head-to-head meetings. The three-year contract between the team and KGW expires at the end of this season and "with ratings down, the win-loss record down, and interest in the Blazers way down, a vital part of the Blazers' business empire appears to be in trouble." However, KGW GM Dennis Williamson is hopeful: "Our relationship is pretty solid. I would hope we think of ourselves as valuable clients to each other" (Portland OREGONIAN, 2/10).