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The Sharks are not on TV as much as their fans would like since the team "bears the financial burden of airing their own games," according to Colin Seymour of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. The team pays for air time and sells their own ads, "which don't always move fast at the rate of $1,000 per 30-second spot." The Sharks are not selling enough ads to offset the expenses of producing telecasts and paying arena and announcing costs, and fees to TV stations. The team has worked with KICU to air as many games as possible. In addition to the production cost, "the real problem is scarce viewership." Sharks ratings on KICU have doubled this season to a 2.0 rating share, but still trail Warriors telecasts (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 2/26). HORNETS EXTEND RADIO DEAL: The Hornets and WBT-AM have agreed on a contract extension that will keep the team on the flagship station for at least five more years. WBT also has local broadcast rights to the Panthers, giving the Jefferson/Pilot-owned station radio rights to Carolina's two major league franchises. The new contract provides for an additional Hornets talk show on WBT, and promotional ties during the station's other programming. The Hornets produce their own programming, sell advertising and keep the revenue. WBT pays no "up-front rights fees -- its financial commitment in the deal is in the form of providing the air time and the commercial slots included in it for the Hornets to sell" (David Poole, CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 2/25). YANKS ON THE FAN? WFAN's deal with the Mets expires at the end of the season, and Bob Raissman of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS reports WFAN might not renew. Instead The FAN might make a run at the Yankees when the Yanks deal with WABC runs out in two years. WABC has reportedly lost "big bucks" on its Yankee contract and Raissman writes that Yankee Owner George Steinbrenner may like the "thought of having FAN at his disposal -- a place to do his spin-doctoring on a moment's notice" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/26). TORONTO: Canadian broadcast sources indicate that TSN is interested in acquiring local TV rights to the Maple Leafs to add to its 80-plus Blue Jays schedule. The Leafs' 15-year deal with Molson's Molstar Communications expires after this season and the club is looking for "huge gains both in revenue and the number of games broadcast." Maple Leafs President & GM Cliff Fletcher has indicated that he is seeking C$15M per season and wants to double the number of games currently shown. The team, through negotiator IMG, is still talking to Molson (Rob Longley, TORONTO SUN, 2/27).
ESPN Radio's "The Fabulous Sports Babe" will be heard on WQXI in Atlanta. ESPN Spokesperson Dan Quinn: "She started on July 4, 1994 with 35 affiliates and now it's up to 110." Quinn noted that The Babe is in seven of the top 11 markets (Prentis Rogers, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 2/26). ....CTV Sports is expected to be awarded a 4-year contract by the Int'l Skating Union for the World Figure Skating Championships over CBC (TORONTO SUN, 2/27).....Rick Gentile, CBS' Sports Senior VP/Production and the "brains behind March Madness," is profiled in the current edition of INSIDE SPORTS. Gentile: "There's nothing I'd rather do anywhere, any time, than the NCAA Tournament" (Bob Rubin, INSIDE SPORTS, 4/95 issue)....The Fox network has been in NHL cities filming promos with some of the league's best players. Fox wants to make the messages "lighthearted and humorous, to help viewers see the players as everyday guys" (Mike Bruton, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 2/24)....Larry Sorensen, former MLB pitcher, reportedly has been asked to join new No. 1 Tigers announcer Frank Beckmann as color analyst (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 2/27)....TCI is reportedly the leading bidder for the cable systems of Chronicle Publishing which has subscribers in HI, NM and CA (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/27)....Pete Sampras, Michael Chang, MaliVai Washington, Jonathan Stark and the Jensen brothers have all filmed spots that will run on ESPN as part of the ATP Tour's image campaign. The 15- and 30-second spots begin airing in March (ATP Tour)....A MIAMI HERALD ratings analysis shows that a serious decline after football season. Ratings for both the Heat and Panthers are down from last year's numbers (Barry Jackson, MIAMI HERALD, 2/26).
Many reports over the weekend note that Ted Turner is back in discussions with the Big Three networks for a possible merger or another venture with Turner Broadcasting. Last week, Turner met with top execs from each of the major networks, NBC, CBS and ABC. And according to BLOOMBERG BUSINESS NEWS, a number of scenarios are being "bandied about." One would include the combination of Turner, NBC and some parts of TCI. One of the key reasons Turner is again speaking with the networks is that Turner Broadcasting and TCI are getting closer to settling on a price for buying Time Warner's 19.4% stake in Turner (N.Y. POST, 2/25). FOX WOES: In a development that could mean "new legal trouble" for News Corp. Chair Rupert Murdoch, a top federal regulator said that he had not known in '85 that News Corp. controlled 99% of the equity in six TV stations that Murdoch acquired to launch the Fox network. As a result, "it breathes new life into the FCC's current investigation" of Murdoch, according to Edmund Andrews of the N.Y. TIMES. The federal regulator, Roy Stewart, said he thought Murdoch, who was about to become an American citizen, was going to own the stations, not News Corp. (N.Y. TIMES, 2/25). TIME WARNER: Sunday's N.Y. TIMES reports that Time Warner Chair Gerald Levin is "campaigning hard" for shareholders' confidence so that he can avoid the fate of CEO's of other companies who have been forced from their job after the companies' stock lagged (N.Y. TIMES, 2/26). BLACK EYE AT BLACK ROCK: David Letterman on Howard Stringer leaving CBS: "Why would anybody want to leave the Titanic? I have no idea" ("Late Night," 2/24).