SBD/30/Sports Media

GOLF CHANNEL REPORTEDLY IN TALKS WITH ESPN AND NBC SPORTS

     The Golf Channel is involved in discussions with ESPN and
NBC Sports, according to Joe Mandese of ADVERTISING AGE.  An
executive familiar with negotiations "said the networks are
discussing equity stakes in the fledgling cable channel, or even
an acquisition."  TGC CEO Joe Gibbs has confirmed the talks, but
"denied the channel is for sale."  He wouldn't rule out "the
possibility of minority stakes being sold to one of the sports
programmers as part of an overall strategic partnership."  Gibbs
denied the discussions were necessary to raise money to keep the
channel going, but he said TGC would likely need a "major new
capital infusion in the next year" -- likely another $40-50M in
the next year.  Launched in January '95, TGC has recently
converted to basic cable and its subscriber base is increasing,
but industry execs say the base is still only around 200,000.
The channel originally projected 1 million subscribers in its
first year.  As part of its initial bid to be a premium TV
channel, TGC purchased tournament rights that it may have trouble
paying off on basic cable.  Adding "another sports programmer to
absorb some of that coverage would help the Golf Channel manage
those costs" (AD AGE, 10/30 issue).
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ESPN, NBC, Media, Walt Disney

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