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ESPN announced that Howard Cosell will receive the 3rd annual Arthur Ashe Award for Courage. Bill Cosby will accept the award on Cosell's behalf at the ESPY Awards on Monday February 13 (ESPN)....The Redskins are expected to announce their choice to carry the team's games on radio this week. Speculation among local station managers is that Infinity-owned WJFK-FM is "leading the pack" with an offer of close to $4M annually (WASHINGTON POST, 2/7)....ABC Radio Network has virtually completed its relocation to Dallas from New York. The largest radio broadcast operation in the U.S. will be operating out of a new 73,000 foot HQs (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 2/7)...WBAL-radio in Baltimore may reduce the number of Orioles exhibition games it carries this spring if replacement players are used. Under WBAL's plan, the announcers would "intersperse conversation with each other and fans with accounts of the game" (Milton Kent, Baltimore SUN, 2/7)....ABC's telecast of the Pro Bowl "scored" in the overnight ratings with an 11.7, almost "triple the audience the game received on ESPN last year."....Sunday's Knicks/ Suns NBA game on NBC drew a 6.6; CBS' College Basketball received a 2.3. CBS VP Len DeLuca: "We're never going to beat the NBA because the NBA controls its own environment. They have no opposing Sunday NBA games" (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 2/7)....The Tribune Company reported a 28% increase in net income to $242M, even after the company estimated baseball-related losses at about $30M. The company, wehich owns the Cubs, cited improved results from its TV stations and new media/education group (ELECTRONIC MEDIA, 2/6)....TCI has agreed to a buy cable TV operation covering six Bay Area communities, adding 70,000 subscribers to the 625,000 it already has there (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 2/7).
While testifying before FCC investigators in late January, Rupert Murdoch "bluntly conceded" that his Australia-based News Corp. "controlled all the equity of the American TV stations that were the basis for the Fox television network," according to this morning's N.Y. TIMES. Sworn testimony released yesterday shows that Murdoch said that he had not violated regulations that limit foreign ownership of American stations because he is a naturalized American citizen. Murdoch: "Frankly, there was no secret. ... News Corporation was on the hook for 100%." If the FCC finds that News Corp. and Fox are in violation of foreign- ownership laws, Murdoch could be forced to "sell his stations or restructure the company" (Edmund Andrews, N.Y. TIMES, 2/7). The WASHINGTON POST reports that government investigators have "zeroed in" on a series of internal documents in which Fox officials "discussed changing" the ownership structure "as far back as 1989" (Paul Farhi, WASHINGTON POST, 2/7). Fox officials turned down a corporate restructuring plan in '90 for "fear of triggering an investigation" (Daniel Pearl, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/7). PROFITS, PROFITS: Despite a $350M loss "reflecting expected losses" on Fox's four-year NFL contract, News Corp.'s fiscal 2nd Quarter earnings rose 11%. The company said the loss was the difference between what Fox will get in advertising revenue and the cost of licensing, producing and marketing the NFL games over the "life of the contract." The charge was "less than half what many people in the industry expected." News Corp. CFO David Devoe said the percentage of U.S. households reached by Fox increased to 98% -- from 93% -- as a result of the football broadcasts (Eben Shapiro, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/7).
NBC "Today" host Bryant Gumbel was expected to be named today as the host of HBO Sports's new quarterly sports-magazine show. Gumbel's new one-year contract with "Today" does not preclude other work, such as the HBO show. HBO reportedly tried to get NBC's Bob Costas, but his work on "Dateline" prevented any deal (N.Y TIMES, 2/7).
While QVC Chair Barry Diller failed in his first attempt at taking over CBS, that hasn't "stopped rampant rumors on Wall Street and Broadcast Row" that Diller is planning a second run at CBS, according to this morning's VARIETY. Speculation about a Diller move comes as the QVC takeover by TCI and Comcast becomes final this week -- triggering Diller's resignation as chair -- "and against a backdrop of turmoil at CBS." One industry source says Diller has put together the estimated $5B in financing he would need, but there is "no sign where it comes from" (DAILY VARIETY, 2/7 issue). A LOOK AT CBS' NUMBERS: CBS' profit picture, expected to be announced tomorrow, "is likely to paint a grim picture of falling earnings," according to N.Y. POST's John Durie. Durie says the diminished earnings are due to the loss of the NFL and key affiliates to Fox, also citing CBS President Laurence Tisch's "strategic failure to develop the CBS franchise into an entertainment powerhouse like Capital Cities/ABC and newer television rivals such as Viacom and Time Warner" (N.Y. POST, 2/7). CAP CITIES/ABC: Cap Cities/ABC reported that net income rose 44% to $240.6M in the 4th Quarter due to strong advertising results from its broadcasting and cable networks. "Earnings were up significantly at ESPN," according to the company. John Reidy, media analyst for Smith Barney, said ABC might have "been lucky" that the baseball strike occurred, as it left the network free to "broadcast its usual fall lineup instead of the World Series, which would have brought strong ratings but perhaps less profit" (Geraldine Fabrikant, N.Y. TIMES, 2/7).