SBD/20/Sports Media

WILL OWNERS LET BASEBALL NETWORK HANG IN MIDSUMMER LIMBO?

     While it has been clear for some time that The Baseball
Network, a joint venture among NBC, ABC and MLB, would not reach
its $330M two-year sales goal, baseball's owners "barely touched
upon TBN's future at recent meetings, except for some confusing,
circuitous discussions."  In this morning's N.Y. TIMES, Richard
Sandomir asks, "If TBN is baseball's destiny, why haven't owners
given it a one-year extension, making 1996 the de facto second
year of the deal and wiping out 1994's disaster."  TBN President
Ken Schanzer:  "Nothing is served by talking about this."  NBC
President Dick Ebersol:  "No comment."  Acting MLB Commissioner
Bud Selig:  "Silence should not be interpreted as inaction."  In
addition, neither White Sox Vice Chair Eddie Einhorn nor Phillies
President Bill Giles, two key architects of TBN, would comment on
a possible extension through '96.  Giles said they won't do
anything until after August 15 -- the first day of an exclusive
45-day period when either side can revisit the deal, or work out
a new contract.  In examining why MLB would wait "when so much
about baseball is uncertain," Sandomir notes the possibility that
some owners "may want a traditional upfront deal and may be
looking for ways to talk to Fox and/or CBS without breaching the
TBN contract" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/20).  In the current BROADCASTING &
CABLE, Jim McConville reports, "One ad buyer says TBN's current
limbo won't affect ad sales for post-season play but may carry
over into next season depending on the decision" (B&C, 6/19
issue).
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