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Turner Broadcasting announced that Lawrence Taylor who is scheduled to wrestle in Wrestlemania XI for the WWF, will not return next season. The WWF is a rival of Turner's WCW wrestling series, but a Turner spokesperson said the timing of the announcement of LT's departure was "coincidental" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/5)....Douglas Broadcasting has created Los Angeles' lone sports talk radio station at 107.1 FM. Programs will consist of local and syndicated fare (DAILY VARIETY, 3/6 issue)....In Boston, Jack Craig predicts the signing of Dave Meggett by the Patriots will help sell advertising for the exhibition broadcasts and boost radio sales at the Patriot's new flagship station, WBCN-FM, which has "sharply" increased ad rates (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/5).... Telemundo, the Spanish-language TV network based in Dade Co., FL, has been awarded the U.S. broadcasting rights to the Pan American Games and plans to begin broadcasting more than 50 hours of prime-time coverage March 10. Telemundo beat out rival Univision (MIAMI HERALD, 3/4)....AP named its best daily and Sunday sports sections for '94. Twelve papers were named in both the top 10 for Sunday and top 20 for daily sections: Baltimore Sun, Boston Globe, Chicago Sun-Times, Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, L.A. Times, Miami Herald, N.Y. Times, Newsday, Orange County Register, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Washington Post (AP, 3/3). ON-LINE NEWS: The CFL Toronto Argonauts have gone on-line with SportsNet, a Canadian online sports service (Argonauts)....Golf Digest will begin testing its on-line site on March 8 with participation by eight advertisers including Cadillac, Adidas and several golf clothing and equipment makers. The service, available via Unet Corp., New York, is being tested at several rates, ranging from $6.95 to $14.95 a month (AD AGE, 3/6 issue).
According to Terry Blount of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE, KILT-AM may be making a run at acquiring the Astros radio rights in '96. When the Astros flagship station KPRC-AM "balked at carrying" Astros' spring games with replacements, KILT "jumped at the chance." KILT GM Dickie Rosenfeld: "That's the reason I did it. We are definitely going to pursue becoming the Astros' flagship station in '96" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/3)....Paxson Communications Corp. will purchase WFTL-AM of Ft. Lauderdale allowing Paxson to expand its radio broadcast of Heat games into Broward and Palm Beach counties (MIAMI HERALD, 3/4).
The current issue of BUSINESS WEEK examines the success of the satellite service DirecTV, a division of GM's Hughes Aircraft Co. More than 700,000 satellite dishes and decoder systems have been shipped since its rollout six months ago, and nearly half a million subscribers pay $30 a month for a "high-powered" signal carrying 175 channels. That is compared to the VCR, which sold fewer than 300,000 in its first year. DirecTV President Eddy Hartenstein: "This is the biggest thing since color television." It was Hughes which developed the technology for the dish and then signed RCA-Thomson to produce the dishes exclusively for one year or one million units. With Sony hitting the market with competing dishes or decoders in June -- and three more manufacturers expected by '96 -- analyst Cai Rumohr of Cowen & Co. estimates prices for startup equipment will drop roughly $100 a year over the next four years. With the early success of DirecTV, Hughes has beaten "cable-industry rivals to the punch" when its comes to the programming service. DirecTV is outselling Primestar, a competing cable-industry offering, by two-to-one. While the initial marketing target has been sports fans and "videophiles," it will take several years to see if regular TV viewers will also pay the premium. BUSINESS WEEK's Eric Schine concludes, "Eventually, cable and fiber optics may do a better job of delivering even more programming. But for now, there's no disputing that DirecTV has won the first leg of the race to digital television" (BUSINESS WEEK, 3/13).