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WILL OWNERS LET BASEBALL NETWORK HANG IN MIDSUMMER LIMBO?
Published June 20, 1995
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).