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CTV President & CEO John Cassaday and NBA Commissioner David Stern announced yesterday a broadcasting agreement that will cover three full seasons and start with the NBA Finals this June. Under the deal, which runs through the '98 season, CTV will broadcast four regular season games in prime time, including the Grizzlies and the Raptors' home openers and two head-to-head matchups between the Canadian expansion teams. In addition, CTV will carry 15 Sunday afternoon games -- five Raptors, five Grizzlies, and five other matchups. Also included: The NBA All- Star Game, six playoff games and the NBA Finals (CTV). CTV VP of Sports Doug Beeforth described the deal as a "win-win revenue sharing agreement," and Cassaday said that the actual dollar value of the deal "will have to be determined somewhere down the road" (Dan Stinson, VANCOUVER SUN, 5/11). However, one industry source said the league and CTV would earn $20M a season "if sales go well," and $5M if they don't (Craig Daniels, TORONTO SUN, 5/11). CTV will produce the games that originate from Canada. For other games, CTV will pick up NBC's feed with a "Canadian wraparound" including CTV-produced pre- and post-game shows (Robert MacLeod, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 5/11). Beeforth also said that NBC games carried by Seattle's KING and seen in Vancouver will not be blacked out (Howard Tsumura, Vancouer PROVINCE, 5/11). LOCAL DEAL: The Grizzlies' local broadcast deal with BCTV is expected to be announced soon. The deal is expected to allow BCTV to carry 25 Grizzlies games and 25 Canucks games (Robert MacLeod, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 5/11).
The Golf Channel has signed distribution agreements with five new MSOs covering more than three million subscribers nationwide. The new Golf Channel carriers are Adelphia Communications, Marcus Cable, TCA Group, Post-Newsweek Cable, Cable America Inc. (The Golf Channel)....The SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE reports that the ratings for the first three Giants games on KTVU "were excellent." Sunday's 6.3 rating topped the 5.4 average for all weekend day games from last year (S.F. CHRONICLE, 5/11)....Bob Sales was replaced as Sports Editor at the BOSTON HERALD yesterday. His interim successor is Mark Torpey, the assistant sports editor (Jack Craig, BOSTON GLOBE, 5/11)...Microsoft has announced the more than 40 different offerings to be available on Microsoft Network (MSN), the company's online service that will be available on the new version of Windows software debuting in August, Windows 95. In addition to QVC and Home Shopping Network, MSN's partners include New York Times Co.'s sports publications and Starwave, home of ESPNET SportZone (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/11)....This weekend's SITV examines the dilemma facing Cuban baseball players. Cuban 3B Omar Linares tells of being offered $1.5M by the Yankees, but choosing instead to stay with his family (SITV).
"In what could be the most potent alliance yet between a telephone company and a media firm," MCI Communications announced Wednesday that it will invest up to $2B in Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. to form a joint venture to deliver electronic information services, according to Jube Shiver in this morning's L.A. TIMES. The deal calls for a 50-50 joint venture company that will distribute News Corp. TV shows, movies and published materials via MCI's network -- "though it was not at all clear exactly how this will work, since MCI's network does not extend all the way to individual households -- at least not yet" (L.A. TIMES, 5/11). The first venture between the two is likely to be an online service for business drawing on Murdoch's "international news gathering apparatus" (Schatz & Pessah, N.Y. NEWSDAY, 5/11). In addition, Delphi, News Corp.'s commercial online service, "is expected to be folded into MCI's information services business" (Steve Lohr, N.Y. TIMES, 5/11). FOOTBALL AS LEVERAGE: Both MCI Chair Bert Roberts and Murdoch said the alliance would provide the leverage necessary for transmission deals with cable companies or regional bells. Murdoch: "We have a lot of bargaining strength and we have a lot of money. ... (Bell Atlantic) is not going to be supplying (programs) to people in Washington without the Redskins games" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/11). REAX: MCI's cash infusion "enables Murdoch to resume the role of an aggressive buyer of media properties that he relinquished after the company's 1990 liquidity crisis" (DAILY VARIETY, 5/11). News Corp. "is positioning itself for the day when broadcasters can deliver digital television into people's homes" (Cassandra Burrell, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 5/11). MCI Exec VP Tim Price: "We just got a big-time content provider" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/11). Roberts: "Until now, no one has put together the right building blocks -- programming, network intelligence, distribution and merchandising -- to offer new media services on a global scale" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 5/11). The "potentially powerful alliance of content and distribution could well force other media and communication giants into similar deals, lest they be left behind in multimedia wars" (Keller & Landro, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/11). "The deal marks one of the most startling alliances yet in the communications industry" (Andrews & Fabrikant, N.Y. TIMES, 5/11).
CBS Chair & CEO Laurence Tisch "said that despite constant rumors he is discussing a sale of CBS, the network isn't for sale," according to Elizabeth Jensen of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Tisch made the comment to reporters immediately after CBS' annual shareholders meeting. Jensen notes, "Tisch's pronouncements have caused skepticism before, however" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/11). In comments to the L.A. TIMES, Tisch "drew a distinction between outright sale of the network and a possible merger." Dillon Reed media analyst Ed Atarino: "I think Wall Street has been too quick to say Larry wants out. I believe he does want to effect a change in the structure of CBS. But he may not want out -- he may want help in the form of a partner" (Jane Hall, L.A. TIMES, 5/11). Ted Turner and Barry Diller, among others, have been mentioned as CBS suitors.