SBD/7/Sports Media

CBS BRASS DEFENDS GRIN-AND-AIR-IT POLICY WITH THE MASTERS

     CBS celebrates its 40th year of telecasting The Masters this
weekend, with sports media writers across the U.S. and Canada
noting the event and the compromises the network has had to make
to maintain the relationship.
     MCCORD GOT WAXED:  CBS coordinating producer Frank
Chirkinian defended, once again, CBS' decision on the suspension
of commentator Gary McCord from Masters' coverage for what
tournament officials considered inappropriate comments.
Chirkinian:  "CBS was in a no-win situation and made a pragmatic
decision.  If we'd stood on principle, that would have been the
end of us at Augusta, pure and simple."  In Boston, Jim Baker
writes, "CBS blew baseball, the NBA and NFL and it wasn't about
to blow the Masters over bikini wax and body bags" (BOSTON
HERALD, 4/7).  Chirkinian:  "The door is not locked on McCord ...
I have a feeling he will be back next year" (Rob Longley, TORONTO
SUN, 4/7).
     AUGUSTA CALLS THE SHOTS:  In Chicago, Steve Nidetz writes,
"There are only 4 minutes of commercials per hour, no station
breaks, no network promotions, no 'talking heads' -- and no free
speech.  And the only thing CBS officials can do is take it"
(CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/7).  CBS has never shown a front nine, even
though the holes are wired. Chirkinian's explanation:
"Tradition."  In Boston, Jack Craig writes, "Less coverage means
less revenue, of course, but that is of no interest to the folks
who run the Masters.  They've had 40 one-year contracts with CBS
... The year-to-year deal puts pressure on CBS to conform."
Cadillac and Traveller's Insurance are the sole sponsors (BOSTON
GLOBE, 4/7).  In New York, Richard Sandomir writes that "control"
is "what makes the Masters great.  It is unlike all other sports
on TV, where TV is the money master" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/7).  John
Helyar calls Augusta "the corporate Woodstock," not for any
sponsorship presence, but the "Who's Who of Corporate America"
membership at the club (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/7).     SINGAPORE
SLINGS:  Chirkinian took issue with Frank Deford's recent piece
on HBO's "Real Sports" comparing Augusta National to Singapore.
Chirkinian, who is quoted in the HBO piece criticizing the
Masters' green jacket ceremony:  "How many domestics have they
hung at Augusta lately? ... It showed a lot of the current
tabloid mentality in television" (Larry Stewart, L.A. TIMES,
4/7).
     GEEZ, IF THEY THINK MCCORD IS IRREVERENT:  David Letterman,
after being pre-empted by a half-hour by Masters highlights:
"Ladies and gentleman, are you like me?  Do you have Masters
fever?" ("Late Show," CBS, 4/6).
     MORE SELECTIVE SERVICE:  In New York, Phil Mushnick notes
that ESPN and the USGA deny that ESPN's Chris Berman was left off
early-round U.S. Open coverage (to be carried on ESPN) because of
his McCord-like persona.  Officials claim the USGA simply wants
"four rounds of continuity from its broadcast team."  But
Mushnick notes, "It all sounds kinda fishy, as if Berman got the
boot, or if NBC didn't want a strong ESPN talent presence" (N.Y.
POST, 4/7).
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