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The Mets and WFAN-AM have agreed to a two-year extension of their partnership. The deal that expires this year paid the Mets $28M over five years or $5.6M per year. But since baseball and the Mets are not "as hot as they once were," Phil Mushnick reports that the new contract is for "considerably less money per season" (N.Y. POST, 8/25). In Chicago, the Bears decided to renew with WGN-AM for three more years with the price as high as $6M per year, making the Bears "easily the top NFL team in radio revenue." Infinity Broadcasting and Evergreen Media were reportedly also in the bidding. The Bears' current three-year WGN deal is for $4.5M per year (Steve Nidetz, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/25).
Turner Broadcasting had no comment on an ATLANTA CONSTITUTION report yesterday that Microsoft was close to investing $1B in the company (DAILY VARIETY, 8/25). But Microsoft Chair Bill Gates said there is a "good chance" there won't be any agreement (N.Y. POST, 8/25). REUTERS is reporting that French media company Havas SA may join TBS in a bid for CBS (WASHINGTON TIMES, 8/25)....Former Fox and QVC exec Barry Diller is said to be preparing a bid for Silver King Communications -- owner of 12 UHF stations, many of which run home shopping programming -- with plans to use them as a "backbone" of a new network (N.Y. TIMES, 8/25). ...The New York Times Co. Magazine Group will launch "@PLAY" on The Microsoft Network with coverage from their magazines, including GOLF DIGEST, TENNIS, GOLF SHOP OPERATIONS, GOLF WORLD, SNOW COUNTRY, SAILING BUSINESS, and TENNIS BUYER'S GUIDE. "@PLAY" kicks off during the U.S. Open (NYT Magazine Group)....Sports Illustrated is going back to press on its August 21 edition which featured a black-and-white cover shot of Mickey Mantle (SI)....Churchill Downs Inc., ODS Technologies and TKR Cable in Louisville debuted an interactive wagering system that allows consumers to watch races at home and wager through their cable box (Churchill Downs)....Howie Rose, the announcer for the Rangers on WFAN and MSG Network, will move to call Islander games on SportsChannel next year. Kenny Albert, who calls the Caps on HTS and is the son of Rangers announcer Marv Albert, has been mentioned as a replacement on MSG (NEWSDAY, 8/25).... With the Packers ending their relationship with County Stadium, Milwaukee is no longer considered a "home market" for the team, meaning that Packer appearances on ESPN and TNT will be offered on free TV only in Green Bay (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 8/25)....ABC's Keith Jackson said the network will be more restrained in showing end-zone antics by college players this year (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 8/25).
NBC said that it will refuse to waive its exclusive negotiating period of 45 days with MLB, which starts today. While a statement from the network said there would be "no further comment," the announcement was seen "purely as a legal move and was not expected to signal any renewed interest in bidding for baseball by NBC." ABC similarly refused to waive its rights, but is said to be interested in re-bidding (WASHINGTON POST, 8/25). NBC's strategy most likely is to keep Fox and CBS away until negotiations open on October 9 (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 8/25). THE GRAND PLAN: Hal Bodley reports that MLB's TV committee met with chief negotiator Barry Frank in New York on Wednesday and decided that their next contract will include two over-the- air networks and two cable outlets, similar to the NFL (USA TODAY, 8/25).
Seth Abraham, President of Time Warner Sports, met with reporters to give his version of the November 4 pay-per-view dispute as well as a history lesson on Don King. Time Warner's TVKO has Bowe-Holyfield set for Caesar's, while King and Showtime Entertainment Television are likely to stage Mike Tyson against Buster Mathis at MGM Grand -- both on November 4. Abraham said that in negotiating over rights to Tyson in the '80s, King wanted HBO to give in on Tyson's request that analyst Larry Merchant not work any Tyson fights. He compares that to the present, and said King is misjudging him and Time Warner. Abraham: "We're in the boxing business. Showtime is in the Don King business." Bob Raissman of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS: "This issue of Nov. 4 gets more bizarre by the day -- even by boxing's twisted standards" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/25). Richard Sandomir calls it "filthy fun" and reports that Showtime and partner MGM Grand "cannot persuade" King to change dates and that it is Tyson co-manager John Horne, not King, who "refuses to see how much more money can be made" by moving Tyson-Mathis to December. King, on Abraham: "He's trying to restrain trade and make people submit to him because he's the biggest and baddest on the block" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/25).