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Susan O'Malley, president of the Bullets and Capitol Region Sports Marketing, announced an agreement yesterday for WFTY-TV to broadcast Bullets and Capitals games beginning in '95-96. WFTY will replace WDCA-TV as the teams' broadcast outlet. In the initial year, WFTY will carry a minimum of 30 Bullets games and 20 Capitals games. Home Team Sports, the teams' cable carrier, will produce the games for cable and broadcast. WFTY VP & GM Michael Nurse: "WFTY feels that the strong addition of Bullets and Capitals, along with our existing line-up of Baltimore Orioles and ACC basketball games, will truly position WFTY as Washington's sports station" (Capitol Sports). No Baltimore affiliate was announced, but Milton Kent urges local cable operators to pick up WFTY (Baltimore SUN, 6/14). WFTY-TV is Washington's WB Network affiliate (THE DAILY).
ESPN has said that "it plans to tackle more Asian markets with customized programming in native languages," according to today's DAILY VARIETY. Yesterday, the cable network launched a programming and production center in Singapore that will produce three separate language and program feeds for India, greater China and southeast Asia. According to a release, the new service will carry U.S.-based programming as well as international events "relevant to each region." ESPN currently provides Cantonese, Mandarin and English commentary, with Hindi and Bahasa Indonesia to be added later (REUTERS/VARIETY, 6/14). BETTER RED THAN IN THE RED? Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. yesterday announced the formation of a joint venture with Beijing's People's Daily newspaper, long known as the "throat and tongue" of the Chinese Communist Party. Among the potential projects of the new partnership, called Beijing PDN Xinren Information Technology Co., are electronic publishing and online information (N.Y. POST, 6/14). The deal "represents an important breakthrough for News Corp.," in Asia and could lead to joint ventures in newspapers and TV (Tony Walker, FINANCIAL TIMES, 6/14). TOP LABATT BIDDERS: Jerry Rosenfeld, Managing Partner at Lazard Freres & Co., financial adviser to Intrebew SA, which has bid C$2.7B for Labatt, profiled the likely bidders for Labatt's broadcast holdings. A group including management of sports channel TSN, as well as ESPN, "doesn't have its financing 'absolutely certain yet,'" according to Rosenfeld. Baton Broadcasting "has yet to raise the money." And CanWest Global Communications "probably has the money but hasn't yet gotten to a price level that is acceptable to us" (Marina Strauss, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 6/14). MULTIMEDIA AUCTION: Bidders for diversified media concern, Multimedia Inc., have been given a June 21 deadline to submit offers. Top bidders include a consortium that includes NBC, TCI's Intermedia and Media General, and a group led by Ellis Communications, parent company of Raycom. Multimedia's holdings include TV stations, daily newspapers, syndicated talks shows such as "Donahue" and "Sally Jessy Raphael," and cable systems (Bill Carter, N.Y. TIMES, 6/14). DREAM DEAL: The Spielberg-Geffen-Katzenberg DreamWorks studio granted exclusive distribution rights to Seagram's newly-acquired MCA. In addition to international distribution of films, videos and music, MCA theme parks will have exclusive rights to "characters and concepts" from DreamWorks productions (John Durie, N.Y. POST, 6/14).
Time Warner Cable has acquired the exclusive local TV rights to the home games of the Memphis Pharaohs of the Arena Football League. In addition, the deal calls for a home shopping show for next season. Pharaohs GM Eric Leins noted that Time Warner's interactive network, TV Memphis, opens in '96 and said "the options are limitless" in terms of team-fan interaction (Arena Football)....Previewing NBC's coverage of the U.S. Open on NBC this weekend, Phil Mushnick writes that NBC analyst Roger Maltbie "is on the verge of a major breakthrough." Maltbie "has just enough flair and frankness to become the reasonable alternative to the self-serving and rehearsed excesses of [CBS golf analyst Gary] McCord" (N.Y. POST, 6/14)....Time Warner's Pathfinder World Wide Web site was rated one of the top three by INTERACTIVE AGE magazine. Pathfinder offers content from many of the company's divisions, including Sports Illustrated (Time Warner)....In a profile of Internet-focused ad agencies, Harry Berkowitz notes that Reebok chose On Ramp, headed by former MTV VJ Adam Curry, instead of a large agency to establish its Net presence. Reebok VP for Event Marketing Brenda Goodell: "Adam is really of the MTV culture, and he is extremely of the Internet culture" (NEWSDAY/Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 6/14)....Jeff Beauchamp, GM of WBAL-AM, flagship station of the Orioles' radio network, called MLB's decision to limit the breaks between innings "another classic example of the owners failing to understand what they're doing" (Baltimore SUN, 6/14)....In Dallas, Barry Horn notes that Sunday's Devils-Flyers got a 14.1 local rating in Philadelphia, but only a 2.8 in New York. The 2.8 mirrored the game's national overnight rating. Horn: "Now you know why the Devils ... are thinking of relocating to Nashville" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 6/14)....In promoting its application to get a license for a Canadian regional all-sports cable Channel (which would be called "S3"), CTV notes that the following teams did not have 50% of the games on English-language TV -- Nordiques (11%), Canadiens (43%), Jets (39%), Oilers (44%), Canucks (42%), and Expos (17%) (William Houston, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 6/14).