SBD/14/Sports Media

BASEBALL HIRES IMG'S FRANK TO NEGOTIATE NEW TV DEAL

     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).
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