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By the end of '96, Bell Atlantic hopes to compete with local cable operators in the DC area by offering more than 100 channels of video via wireless cable. Bell Atlantic officials say the move to wireless is an "interim" strategy (WASHINGTON POST, 5/17)....John McEnroe may sign on with CBS to do commentary for the U.S. Open. Jim Baker of the BOSTON HERALD notes that his NBC contract would allow such a move. It is not known whether or not he will team up with Mary Carillo (BOSTON HERALD, 5/16)....Nielsen Media Research, Yankelovich Partners and ASI Market Research have formed "ANYwhere Online" -- a partnership to develop research services to measure online media (AD AGE ONLINE, 5/17).... ESPN will televise an "Outside the Lines" special on religion and sports on May 19 (ESPN)....PRIME will carry the Football Association Cup from Wembley Stadium in London on May 20. It is the first over-the-air live showing of the F.A. Cup in the U.S. in over a decade (Prime).
Vikings QB Warren Moon will pull double-duty this coming NFL season, working both on the field and as a member of the media. Moon, who also has worked this season on several TNT and TBS NBA broadcasts, will appear on TNT's NFL coverage in '95. The SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY spoke with Steve Rosner at Integrated Sports International -- Moon's marketing representatives -- about the QB's moonlighting. Rosner said Moon's involvement with TNT will include taped features and live spots during the network's coverage of the NFL, with other coverage based on Moon's availability. Rosner notes that Moon and other players have worked on local TV in their markets, "but to do something on a national level, but more importantly and more interestingly, with another sport -- I don't think that's been done before." Rosner reports that there have been "a lot of inquiries" about Moon's availability when he retires, and says, "There is no question that when Warren Moon retires from football, the broadcast industry is one he's going to take a shot at." As for the future, Rosner says that while Moon does not have a long term deal with TNT, the cable network "will be right in the mix for his services" when Moon moves on to his next full-time career (THE DAILY).
"Playing hardball as it prepares to enter the on-line computer services business, Microsoft Corp. has wooed NBC away from rivals America Online and Prodigy with a lucrative deal under which the software giant will pick up the broadcaster's expenses for developing computerized versions of its programs for the Microsoft Network," according to Julie Pitta in today's L.A. TIMES. NBC Multimedia Senior VP Marty Yudkovitz: "We're spending Microsoft's money to create content that we will own" (L.A. TIMES, 5/17). NBC will use all of its segments for the area, including NBC Sports and CNBC (N.Y. POST, 5/17). Microsoft Chair Bill Gates cited coverage of the '96 Olympics in outlining the content possibilities (N.Y. TIMES, 5/17). While NBC will pull its content from AOL and Prodigy, the deal will allow Microsoft to sign on other networks. According to Pascal Zachary of the WALL STREET JOURNAL, Gates "made it plain that he hopes to rely on the entertainment and news expertise of NBC and others to build the biggest on-line network in the world" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 517). REACTION: In Washington, Kara Swisher calls it "yet another sign that TV and computing are becoming more alike" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/17). In New York, Mark Landler writes that the details were so "fuzzy" that some analysts saw it as "the digital-age equivalent of agreeing to be friends." But the news did have a "measurable impact" on America Online and Prodigy. AOL stock fell $3.125 to $38.625 on Nasdaq, while stock of Prodigy's parents, IBM and Sears, also suffered slight losses (N.Y. TIMES, 5/17). In San Francisco, Michelle Quinn writes, "On the surface, the deal appears to favor Microsoft, at least as a public relations coup." Some analysts also speculate that the spread of Microsoft Network content deals "could mean it's game over for America Online and the other online services such as Prodigy" (SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 5/17). Several reports note the deal is also a bad sign for GE's own struggling commercial online service -- Genie (Mult., 5/17). MERGER IN THE MAKING? AT&T's intentions with Time Warner are examined in USA TODAY and the L.A. TIMES. USA TODAY's Kevin Maney reports that it is "unlikely" AT&T will buy a stake in Time Warner, with a joint venture more likely (USA TODAY, 5/17). In L.A., Sallie Hofmeister reports that industry execs said allying with AT&T "would give Time Warner the best brand name in the phone business, a clear advantage in its effort to sell phone service to cable subscribers" (L.A. TIMES, 5/17). Time Warner's annual shareholders meeting starts tomorrow (Mult., 5/17). In other news, AT&T filed with the SEC to sell 25% of its stake in video game maker, 3DO. AT&T plans to sell the rest of its investment -- 1 million shares or 2.5% of the company --during the next year (SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 5/17).
Commentary continues on the alleged comments of CBS golf analyst Ben Wright that lesbianism has hurt the image of the LPGA, with several female columnists entering the fray. In San Francisco, Joan Ryan writes, "For all the uproar about his remarks, they weren't as disturbing as the response to them. ... In the real world, the perception of rampant lesbianism in the golf tour has absolutely affected its popularity with corporate America" (SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 5/17). In Miami, Linda Robertson writes, "Unfortunately, the devaluation of women makes headlines instead of the accomplishments of women" (MIAMI HERALD, 5/16). In Boston, Jack Craig writes, "The subject will not go away quickly. The ingredients are the stuff of tabloids. Someone's lying, there is gay-bashing and sex, and goliath CBS is plunk in the middle" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/16). In New York, Steve Zipay notes that the controversy did little to boost CBS's ratings for the LPGA McDonald's Championship. The event drew a 1.7 both Saturday and Sunday -- down 6% and 17% respectively from '94. Zipay writes, "No Tonya vs. Nancy curiosity here" (NEWSDAY, 5/16). Bob Costas was asked about the controversy on Tom Snyder's "Late, Late Show" last night. Costas: "One bit of circumstantial evidence that weighs in Wright's favor is this. He is 62 or 63 years old. He has had a very long career in broadcasting and he has never appeared to be this sort of reckless person who would make crass comments like this" (CBS, 5/17). WHO SAID WHAT, WHEN? Wilmington NEWS JOURNAL Exec Editor John Walston told USA TODAY that reporter Valerie Helmbreck "has very clear notes" from her conversation with Wright. Walston: "These are not chicken-scratch notes. They conducted the interview in a back office. There was no one leaning over his or her shoulder. ... He was the first to raise the lesbian issue." Rudy Martzke asks, "If there were no others present during the Helmbreck-Wright interview, as told by Helmbreck to Walston, then who are the staffers CBS said confirmed Wright's denial." CBS Sports spokesperson Robin Brendle said "nothing has changed" to alter the statements made Friday by Wright or CBS Sports President David Kenin (USA TODAY, 5/17). Jack Craig notes that ABC's "Good Morning America" tried to arrange a Wright-Helmbreck meeting for yesterday's show (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/17).