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EBERSOL SAYS MLB IS "CONFUSED"; OFFERS APOLOGY TO FOX
Published June 29, 1995
NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol "yesterday accused baseball officials of reneging on at least two oral pledges to protect The Baseball Network, and said the sport is in a 'completely confused state,'" according to Milton Kent in this morning's BALTIMORE SUN. Ebersol: "On two specific occasions, the bodies responsible for determining the course of baseball said words that were very specific. There's no question that the economic realities of baseball have changed a lot in a year, but from where I'm coming from, a man's word is never something that's to be given in convenience." Ebersol said he and ABC Sports President Dennis Swanson had waited since April for word from MLB whether or not it had an interest in extending the terms of TBN, but did not get a response. Ebersol: "It was just sort of delay, delay, delay. I made innumerable airplane flights and what sounded like hundreds of phone calls to reach a resolution." Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig did not respond specifically to Ebersol's charges, but said: "All we said was we wanted to be good partners. Partnerships are two way streets" (Baltimore SUN, 6/29). NO HARD FEELINGS, EH MATE? Yesterday, Ebersol also said he was sorry for calling Fox "a pushcart." Ebersol: "I regret the choice of words. The quote was unfortunate. I'm sorry that a quote about a company then turned into personalities." He also said he actually called Fox "a pushcart platform" -- not just a pushcart (Ronald Blum, AP/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 6/29). THE MILL BEGINS TO GRIND: Speculation about what next for MLB's national TV presence continues. John Mansell, an analyst with Paul Kagen Associates, says Fox and CBS are the obvious front-runners, and "the price tag" for baseball "might not scrape rock bottom." Mansell: "We know Fox was willing to take a loss for its NFL package. Possibly, you could be looking at a deal approaching half a billion dollars" (Bill Koenig, USA TODAY BASEBALL WEEKLY, 6/28 issue). Terry Blount of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE says "baseball may have done something right by letting ABC and NBC quit before they were fired," and believes Fox is "where baseball is headed in 1996" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 6/28). According to Steve Zipay, Turner Sports "confirmed yesterday that it had contacted baseball about possibly acquiring rights to postseason games" (N.Y. NEWSDAY, 6/29). JUMBOTRONS, COAST TO COAST! YEAH, THAT'S THE TICKET: Major League Baseball International has set up big screen televisions in high- traffic areas in eight Japanese cities -- including Tokyo and Osaka -- for tonight's NHK broadcast of the Dodgers/Rockies game featuring Hideo Nomo (MLB).