SBD/28/Sports Media

BASEBALL NETWORK FIRES BACK AT REGIONALIZATION CRITICS

     Ken Schanzer, President of The Baseball Network, is prepared
for criticism of the new regionalized approach to the playoffs on
TV.  Schanzer:  "If you read the newspapers for the past year, a
significant percentage of the baseball and TV press has decided,
before the first pitch is thrown, that this is a bad idea.  That
makes it difficult for them to objectively appraise what we do.
We never said this would be better.  We said it would be
different, with a more exciting pace, like the early rounds of
the NCAA basketball tournament.  In a perfect world, you'd like
to have all four games on separately.  If they (baseball) can do
that next year, with the response from the advertising community
they want, that's great."  NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol said
the playoff plan was put together by MLB, not the networks.
Ebersol:  "They wanted to restore the ratings and the value of
baseball by going to prime-time regionalization."  Ad man Paul
Schulman notes the problems with MLB's demographics.  NBC lost to
ABC last week among 18-49's because baseball drew a 2.1 Friday
(Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 9/28).
     WHY NOT PAY-PER-VIEW?  In a playoff preview in USA TODAY's
BASEBALL WEEKLY, Rick Lawes notes that due to acting MLB
Commissioner Bud Selig's promise that the World Series will
remain on free TV, any move to pay-per-view "would draw attention
from Congress, which is already unhappy with baseball's
management" -- even if at least one game was available over-the-
air (BASEBALL WEEKLY, 9/27-10/3 issue).
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