SBD/20/Sports Media

YANKEES HIT BY LAWSUIT BY WABC-AM; MSG ALSO OPTS OUT

     WABC-AM filed a $10M lawsuit against the Yankees for the
advertising dollars "they expect to lose because of the strike."
The station charged that the use of replacement players is "the
object of general scorn, derision and dissatisfaction among
baseball fans."  It also noted the Yankees Owner George
Steinbrenner has admitted replacement baseball is "not the same
product" as major league players.  WABC pays the Yankees about
$5.5M a year (Zipay & Bowles, N.Y. NEWSDAY, 3/19).  The MSG
Network is also "frustrated with the Yankees position," and
canceled its telecasts of exhibitions over the weekend.  The team
has offered 50% reduction in ticket prices to replacement games,
but has not reduced the estimated $44M MSG will pay in '95.  MSG
has reported that 95% of its advertisers will boycott replacement
games.  Marty Brooks, acting head at MSG:  "This is not what we
bought."  Brooks said "if the situation doesn't change with
meaningful discussions," exhibition games will not be telecast.
Brooks would not speculate whether regular season games would be
canceled "to force the Yankees to renegotiate what is baseball's
largest media rights fee" (Richard Sandomir, NEW YORK TIMES,
3/18).  The lawsuit by WABC could be a way for ther station to
get out of its contract with the Yankees, which expires after the
'96 season, according to Bob Raissman.  Raissman: "No secret the
station is losing money airing Yankee baseball."  If WABC opts
out, Raissman writes that WFAN in New York may go after the
Yankee deal (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/19).
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