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With the IOC decision on Canadian TV rights to the Nagano '98 Games due on Thursday, the fee is expected to be higher than the C$16M CTV paid for the Lillehammer Games -- "but by how much is speculation." Based on the price rise for CBS, Canadian rights should be at C$20M. But CTV VP of Sports Doug Beeforth "says that is far too high." Beeforth: "The Canadian market can't sustain that and that's the only ballpark we play in." CBC officials withheld comment until the IOC's decision, but CTV VP of Development Gary Mavaara argued, "We're not suggesting the CBC should be out of the Olympics or sports, but they shouldn't use the taxpayer cushion to escalate the bid." CTV paid C$4.5M for the rights to Calgary '88, while the CBC paid $11.7M for Albertville (James Christie, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 5/30). In Calgary, TV columnist Bob Blakey writes that it is time for the CBC to get out of sports broadcasting. Blakey: "Isn't it the job of a 'public broadcaster' to give us programs that can't or won't be produced by private networks and stations?" (CALGARY HERALD, 5/27).
In Denver, Dusty Saunders reports that KKFN-AM (The Fan) has the "inside track" to broadcast rights to the soon-to-be-renamed Nordiques when they move to Denver next year. Jefferson Pilot- owned KKFN, which carries the Nuggets, also owned by COMSAT, has the rights to first refusal on the hockey team. On the TV side, Prime Sports "already is displaying interest" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 5/29). HOCKEY'S ON-AIR PARTNERS: The NHL moved up the start of the Western Conference Final two days to Thursday, with the Eastern Final starting on Saturday. NHL VP of Public Relations Arthur Pincus said the decision was made because CBC preferred to carry the Eastern Final on Saturday night because of the ratings draw of the Flyers' Eric Lindros. Pincus, on Fox, ESPN and CBC: "We have three national carriers with equal weight. We try to make the schedule so the maximum number of people can see the maximum number of games" (Davis Shoalts, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 5/30).
A NY State Supreme Court ruling that Prodigy "is a publisher and may be sued for libel could have a far-reaching impact on how much other online services try to regulate all kinds of content" (Michelle Slatalla, N.Y. NEWSDAY, 5/27)....SportsChannel New England VP & GM Marc Edwards denied rumors that the RSN will close its Woburn, MA, office and move its operations out of the region. Edwards: "If anything, we're looking to expand our local programming" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/26)....Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is considering buying its own TV satellite to launch digital TV service over Europe (FINANCIAL TIMES, 5/28).... NBC is studying the possibility of beaming broadcasts into Japan via satellite (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/28).
Less than ten months after recombining TCI with his Liberty Media programming company, TCI Chair John Malone is looking to split the two entities again, according to Allan Sloan in the current NEWSWEEK. Liberty's holdings include Prime and Prime's regional sports channels, as well as TCI's 24% share in Turner Broadcasting. The split would not be in the form of two companies, but "two separate targeted stocks" -- one called TCI and one Liberty. The idea, according to Sloan: "The cable and programming stocks will fetch a higher total price than TCI, which trades at its 1989 price level. ... Having become a major TCI shareholder with his Liberty machinations, [Malone is] trying to goose TCI's share price by carving up the company's stock without carving up the company. If that works, TCI will be better able to fight the phone companies" (NEWSWEEK, 6/5 issue).