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CBS OFFICIAL SAYS NETWORK DID NOT GIVE DAYTONA AN ULTIMATUM
Published February 23, 1995
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).