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CBS Programming VP Len DeLuca says the network did not threaten or give an ultimatum to NASCAR officials during Sunday's rain-delayed Daytona 500. DeLuca: "We don't issue ultimatums. The big bad network message is not one I like to see written." Monday's WASHINGTON TIMES reported that NASCAR officials "paraded the field under caution for about 20 miles to finish drying the track so the race could be restarted by 3:45 p.m. keeping CBS from 'pulling the plug' and switching to basketball." DeLuca says CBS moved the tipoff on its Michigan-Indiana game to accommodate the rain delay. DeLuca: "Our first decision is that the Daytona 500 is the priority." DeLuca says the network's decision to move the tipoff was "entirely in terms of when the race would have to be restarted to complete almost two hours of competition before darkness, rather than suggesting the game would be broadcast to hold viewers." According to DeLuca, the race was the top-rated sporting event of the weekend, with a 6.6 rating. Even the rain-delayed portion finished ahead of the Knicks-Rockets on NBC when the two competed head-to-head. Daytona's delay had a 5.5 rating compared to the NBA's 5.4 (Frank Murray, WASHINGTON TIMES, 2/23).
CBS Radio and the NFL have announced the signing of a four- year contract extension for national radio rights to regular and post-season games, starting in '95. The new contract covers a 53-game package, including 41 regular-season games and all 12 post-season games. Spanish language coverage in the U.S., through the CBS Americas, includes four post-season games and the Super Bowl. CBS Radio has held the NFL rights since '78 (CBS Radio).
Viacom's '94 gross earnings rose to $608M last year, up from $385M in '93. However, the company lost $50M in the 4thQ of '94 and had a drop in '94 net earnings of 48% to $89M. The $17B acquisitions of Blockbuster and Paramount were "blamed" by company officials for the drop (USA TODAY, 2/23)....Former umpire Steve Palermo, who left the game after being crippled in a Dallas shooting, was added to the Yankees' MSG broadcast crew (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/23).... Rating results are in for the first two events of NBC's five-meet track & field series. The Millrose Games on February 3 earned a 2.2, the Reno Air Games of February 10 earned a 2.1. Track officials before the tour said they would be "ecstatic" with ratings above 3.0. NBC Sports spokesperson Ed Markey: "The numbers don't have us turning cartwheels, but they're pretty darn good for something new" (USA TODAY, 2/23)
TURNER & TCI EYE TIME WARNER'S TBS SHARES: Ted Turner and TCI are negotiating to "jointly purchase" Time Warner's 19.4% stake in Turner Broadcasting, according to this morning's WALL STREET JOURNAL. Under the newest proposed deal, Time Warner has dropped "its insistence that it receive" an asset such as the Cartoon Network in exchange for Turner stock, instead, Time Warner is expected to receive "a premium above" Turner's stock price. Under a proposed joint purchase, TCI "will clearly have more clout with Turner. ... Mr. Turner, meanwhile, might have more flexibility to pursue his dream of acquiring a network" (Sharpe & Shapiro, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/23). SHAKE-UP AT BLACK ROCK: According to this morning's WALL STREET JOURNAL, CBS Inc. is expected to name Peter Lund as president of its Broadcast Group, succeeding Howard Stringer, who has reached an agreement to head an interactive video venture being launched by three Baby Bells. Stringer's new post, which is expected to be announced today, has been rumored for several weeks. Lund is currently an Exec VP at CBS Broadcast Group. Lund had "primary responsibility" for renegotiating the NFL deal CBS lost to Fox (Jensen & Lippman, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/23). According to CNN's Steve Young, analysts told "Moneyline" that outgoing QVC Chair Barry Diller is the most likely candidate to replace Stringer. Analysts speculate that the new company being headed by Stringer could make a run at CBS, but CNN's Young reports that "there are roadblocks," such as federal regulations that prohibit phone companies from owning TV stations. Young reports that Disney could also be interested in making a play for CBS. Paul Marsh, NatWest Securities media analyst: "Disney has a real strategic interest. It has content. This would get it closer to the advertising dollar" ("Moneyline," CNN, 2/22).