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The management of Canada's The Sports Network (TSN) "has lined up partners" in Montreal, Vancouver and the U.S. in a bid to keep control of the all-sports cable network when Labatt's ownership ends, according to this morning's GLOBE & MAIL. Labatt Communications -- TSN, its French counterpart Reseau des Sports, Dome Productions, ad agency The Rep Shoppe, 80% of the Discovery Channel, a minority share in PPV outlet Viewer's Choice, and a 35% interest in interactive programmer NTN Canada -- is expected to go on the block if Belgian brewer, Interbew SA, succeeds in buying John Labatt Ltd. A source close to ESPN says the U.S. sports network is among those helping TSN management in its bid. Others involved: Former Expos Owner Charles Bronfman and Northwest Entertainment Group, owner of the Canucks, Grizzlies and GM Place. Canadian interests are thought to control 70% of the consortium. Grizzlies VP/Commun. Tom Mayenknecht, on behalf of NEG: "All I can say is that we have been considering options available to our group in terms of Canadian and international broadcast properties and partnerships. It is certainly not off- strategy for our group to be exploring such partnerships." Labatt's broadcast assets are said to be worth between C$350- 500M. Other bidders: CanWest Global Communications, and Western Int'l Communications, run by Frank Griffiths, brother of NEG's Arthur Griffiths (Neil Campbell, GLOBE & MAIL, 6/12). ANOTHER REGIONAL BID: The GLOBE & MAIL piece also notes that NEG is exploring a bid to start a regional sports network featuring Vancouver teams. While TSN "bitterly opposed" an application filed by CTV last year with the CRTC (Canada's FCC) to start a series of RSNs called S3, it is believed that TSN management would "embrace" NEG's planned sports channel. CTV will reapply for S3 this year, with NEG remaining in touch with them should the TSN deal fall through (Neil Campbell, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 6/12).
On Friday, officials from ITT termed as "fiction" a N.Y. POST report that ITT and Barry Diller had made an unsuccessful run at CBS. The same day, ITT announced that it had sold the remaining assets in ITT's Financial Division for $5.5B (N.Y. POST, 6/12)....Salt Lake City's KJZZ-TV, owned by Jazz Owner Larry Miller, has reached a tentative agreement to carry Ute football, basketball and gymnastics beginning this fall. KJZZ already carries the Jazz. KUTV had been the Univ. of Utah's TV outlet since 1967 (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 6/10).... Fox's NFL slogan this year will change to "Same game, more attitude" from "Same game, new attitude" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 6/9)....ESPN has reportedly contacted former Packers WR Sterling Sharpe to replace Phil Simms in ESPN's NFL studio. Former Redskin Charles Mann has also auditioned (Barry Jackson, MIAMI HERALD, 6/9).... Houston's KMJQ-FM has changed its name from "Majic 102" to "Clutch City 102" for the duration of the NBA playoffs (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 6/9)....United Video made its pay-per-view debut Friday with the Tommy Morrison-Razor Ruddick heavyweight bout. The network was hoping to attract 300,000 buyers at $29.95 each (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 6/10)....ESPN's Beano Cook, on SI's cover story suggesting that Univ. of Miami drop football: "If I am UM, I would say to Sports Illustrated, we will drop college football when you drop the swimsuit issue" (MIAMI HERALD, 6/11)....This morning's N.Y. TIMES profiles new CBS Entertainment head Les Moonves (Bill Carter, N.Y. TIMES, 6/12). CBS President Peter Lund introduced Moonves on the "Late Show." The pair sang a duet of Bob Seger's "Like a Rock" (CBS, 6/9).