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ESPN plans an on-line sports service with Microsoft co- founder/Blazers Owner Paul Allen, offering scores, statistics, rotisserie baseball, and eventually ticketing, over the Internet and the planned Microsoft Network. The alliance between links part of Allen's growing collection of multimedia companies with Microsoft. The new sports service, which will be free to start, will first appear in April on the Internet as part of the World Wide Web. It will be available on the Microsoft Network when that commercial on-line service begins operating later this year. Allen's Starwave Corp., a Bellevue, WA, multimedia company, has been testing a free sports-information service called Satchel on the World Wide Web for several months. ESPN has offered its own service, ESPNet, on Prodigy for the past year. The only hangup in the new deal is the name of the service. ESPN wants to "retain a strong link" to ESPNet, while Starwave is "resisting the move." ESPN's exclusive one-year deal with Prodigy expires this month, so ESPN is looking to get its service on other online services, such as America Online and the Microsoft Network. The sports service would also affect Starwave's relationship with another online service, ATT's Interchange network. Starwave had agreed to launch a sports service for that new online service, but those plans are now on hold. Ad and subscription revenue from the new service will be shared by Starwave and ESPN. The service is expected to debut during the Final Four (Bart Ziegler, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/10).
Fox Broadcasting "slammed" a submission to the FCC by the NAACP as "false, 'misleading, illogical' and counterproductive." The NAACP is attempting to overturn an '85 ruling approving Fox's purchase by News Corp. Chair Rupert Murdoch. Yesterday was the final day for comments on submissions to an FCC staff review of the decision. Staff recommendations are expected early next month. Possible actions include confirming the '85 decision or making modifications to the decision which would then lead to a formal FCC hearing (John Durie, N.Y. POST, 3/10).