SBD/2/Sports Media


     Many NFL viewers yesterday were upset at being denied the
end of the Dolphins-Bengals game because of a league rule that
dictates an immediate switch to the later game involving their
market's designated team.  In Orlando, considered a Jaguars
market by the NFL, WESH was forced to leave the game with 20
seconds left.  But when the station switched, the Jaguars-Oilers
had not begun and viewers were shown commercials and pre-game
commentary.  WESH GM Jeff Lee said the station received 1,200
calls from irate fans in four hours.  Lee, on the callers:  "We
agree with them. We think this is wrong.  The NFL says this is
the way they want to do it. ... Didn't we learn anything from
Heidi?" (Sandra Pedicini, ORLANDO SENTINEL, 10/2).  Columnist
Larry Guest writes, "Networks and their affiliates have little
respect for the sporting events they cover and too often even
less for the viewers" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 10/2).  L.A. viewers
also were switched away, but to the Chargers-Steelers.
Originally, NBC chalked it up to "miscommunication" between the
network and the league.  But NBC spokesperson Ed Markey later
said they were following NFL rules which consider L.A. a
"secondary market" for the Chargers (Larry Stewart, L.A. TIMES,
10/2).  Columnist Allan Malamud still blames NBC, saying the move
"ranks right up there with 'Heidi' among the network's worst
moments" (L.A. TIMES, 10/2).
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