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For the first time in franchise history, the Expos may not be seen on English-language TV in Canada this season, according to Don Cambell in Ottawa. Expos VP of Marketing and Communications Richard Morency said the club "failed to negotiate" a TV deal with CBC, TSN or Baton Broadcasting, leaving the team without a single English TV outlet. Morency said the team also tried to establish its own TV network, made up of independent English-language stations, "but failed because of the high production cost." The Expos have also not negotiated a deal with RDS, the French-version of TSN. They do have a contract with Radio-Canada, the French-language arm of the CBC, which will air 32 games this season. By comparison, TSN is finalizing a deal to air 80 Blue Jays games, while Baton is expected to show more than 30. Morency blames the strike for the team's failure to negotiate an English-TV contract (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 4/6). Expos President Claude Brochu: "We're talking and we're still hoping" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 4/6). MONTREAL FIRE SALE: The trades of John Wetteland and Ken Hill, the impending trade of Marquis Grissom and the expected signing of Larry Walker by the Rockies illustrates Montreal's place as a small-market franchise in a tight market. In Toronto, Bob Elliott notes that some scouts say the Blue Jays' offer for Hill was better than that of the Cardinals, who won the bidding, and speculates that the Montreal-Toronto rivalry may have played a role. Expos management was recently told by TSN that the team's usual 25 games on the cable network wouldn't be carried because of the costs of producing Blue Jays' replacement games from Dundein, FL. TSN and the Expos have since broken off talks (TORONTO SUN, 4/6). TSN and the Jays are owned by Labatt.
Liberty Sports and the Colorado Silver Bullets have announced a TV agreement giving Liberty exclusive worldwide TV rights to 20 games this season. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. In addition to coverage on RSNs around the country, select games will be available on Liberty's Women's Sports Network. Silver Bullets Chair Paul Beckham: "This is more than a business deal; it is a major statement by Liberty Sports to women's sports" (Liberty).
Fox Sports President David Hill will not comment on acquiring MLB TV rights until a CBA is signed by the players and owners: "I don't think anyone would become involved in meaningful discussions until baseball comes up with labor peace" (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 4/6)....In this morning's WALL STREET JOURNAL, Elizabeth Jansen & Daniel Pearl profile civil rights attorney David Honig, who help initiate the FCC investigation into whether Fox was a foreign held company. The FCC is expected to rule on the "sweeping inquiry" any day now (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/6)....ESPN will be the exclusive TV outlet for MLB's Opening Game, April 25, between the Marlins & Dodgers. The game was moved back from April 26 (ESPN)....Wireless telecomm pioneer Craig McCaw, the brother of John McCaw, who recently bought a majority interest in the Canucks and Grizzlies, will invest $350M into Nextel Communications immediately and has options to invest as much as $1.1B in the future ("Nightly Business Report," PBS, 4/5)....Viewership of the '94 World Cup increased 20% worldwide from '90, reaching an estimated 32.1 billion viewer exposures, according to ISL Marketing, FIFA's marketing partner (USA TODAY, 4/6).... Basic cable TV's share of prime-time TV viewing set a new record for the first quarter of '95, reaching 26% of all households watching TV in prime time, up 18.2% from the 22 share it had in the 1st quarter of '93, according to a Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau analysis (AD AGE ONLINE).