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BASEBALL HIRES IMG'S FRANK TO NEGOTIATE NEW TV DEAL
Published July 14, 1995
The MLB Television Committee announced yesterday the hiring of Barry Frank, Senior Group VP of Trans World International, as "consultant and negotiator" for its new TV contract. Frank has previously served as TV consultant to numerous Olympics organizing committees, the NBA, the NFL, U.S. Open tennis, the America's Cup, and the Orange Bowl, among others. Phillies President Bill Giles, Chair of the TV Committee, said Frank "is recognized as the premier sports properties negotiator" (MLB). Giles said that Frank was told to get a deal that has all postseason games televised, with acting Commissioner Bud Selig restating that playoff games will not be on cable (AP/BOSTON GLOBE, 7/14). THE LETTER: Reaction continued concerning a letter sent from ABC to Fox, Turner and MLB reminding all of ABC's and NBC's exclusive negotiating period with baseball, which expires in January. ABC Sports spokesperson Mark Mandel said they did not want the letter released, and sources at the networks claim the letter was leaked from Turner Sports (Mike Bruton, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 7/14). Mandel: "We're surprised Turner is showing people the letter." In Minneapolis, Rachel Blount sees the letter as a "signal that [ABC] might not be ready to give up the sport" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/14). In Boston, Jim Baker writes that the letter "is meant to tie Barry Franks's hands" (BOSTON HERALD, 7/14). In Baltimore, Milton Kent writes, "The letter opens questions whether ABC is merely playing hardball with baseball and the other networks or if it is truly interested in getting back into baseball and is perhaps buying itself more time while owners and players thrash out a labor agreement" (Baltimore SUN, 7/14). MEANWHILE, BACK AT TBN ... This weekend marks the beginning of The Baseball Network's "Baseball Night in America" coverage. In New York, Steve Zipay notes that the low rating for the All- Star Game (13.9) "won't mean a crisis for The Baseball Network. It can simply add some make-good spots during the regular-season games. But it sends a signal to advertisers that postseason ratings likely will follow suit" (N.Y. NEWSDAY, 7/14). Michael Hiestand notes, "From the corporate Big Guy view, ABC and NBC don't have much incentive to push TBN. They won't have to sell 1996 ad time off this year's ratings." But in the production rooms, it "makes no difference," according to TBN Coordinating Producer John Filippelli (USA TODAY, 7/14).