SBD/1/Sports Media

IS USTA'S ASKING PRICE TOO HIGH FOR CBS TO KEEP OPEN RIGHTS?

     CBS must decide by Tuesday whether it wants to renew for
five more years as broadcaster of the U.S. Open.  But, Richard
Sandomir notes in this morning's N.Y. TIMES, "if CBS does not
double what it now pays, it will lose another high-profile sports
property."  The USTA, working with IMG as its agent, wants an
average of $38M for its next five-year deal, up from about $19M.
If CBS rejects that, bidding is open to the other broadcast nets
with Fox "expected to be the strongest competitor."  If another
net does not offer what the USTA is seeking, CBS has the right to
match and renew through 2000.  CBS Sports President David Kenin:
"Obviously, we'd like to keep it, but we have to do the right
deal.  They're asking for a dramatic increase.  It's an important
event, but it's not as important to our affiliates as it is to
us."  David Winner, Coordinating Producer of the tournament:
"Not keeping it sends a message to the sports department that we
don't matter very much.  I'd be shocked if we don't renew it."
CBS Sports Senior VP Rick Gentile:  "We can't afford to lose
anything.  We don't have the luxury of having any properties to
replace it with.  Forty hours of tennis is a lot to take out of
your arsenal."  The decision rests with CBS Chair Laurence Tisch,
not prospective buyer Westinghouse (N.Y. TIMES, 9/1).  Phil
Mushnick writes that CBS is in a "bad spot as it's being forced
to overbid" to keep the tournament (N.Y. POST, 9/1).
     WORLDWIDE COVERAGE:  ProServ Television, which is exclusive
domestic and international marketer for the U.S. Open, has
announced that 147 countries are taking coverage from the
tourney, up 8% from last year (PSTV).
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Related Topics:

CBS, IMG, News Corp./Fox, Media, USTA, Viacom

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