SBD/5/Sports Media

BASEBALL SAYS REGIONALIZED COVERAGE WILL BE ONE- YEAR DEAL

     In a brief written statement released yesterday by the MLB
Office of the Commissioner, Barry Frank, hired by the league to
negotiate the next TV deal, said the current regional TV
arrangement will end after this year.  Frank:  "It is our
intention, as we negotiate the next round of television
contracts, that each game of the post-season will be seen by our
fans in its entirety, nationally either on cable or network
television.  In the future, starting times will be arranged so
that games will not conflict" (MLB).  In L.A., Larry Stewart
writes, "It didn't take long for [MLB] to recognize that its
regional television coverage of postseason play doesn't work"
(L.A. TIMES, 10/5).  In Boston, Jim Baker calls Frank's proposal
a "very nice intention," but adds that sources at ABC are "cool"
to the concept.  One ABC official:  "Someone will spend a lot of
money for rights and lose a lot with all those games on
nationally the same day and night" (BOSTON HERALD, 10/5).
     EXPLAINING THE CURRENT DEAL:  White Sox Vice Chair Eddie
Einhorn, one of the architects of The Baseball Network, says the
networks were not willing to carry an added round of playoffs at
a time when LCS ratings were slipping.  Einhorn:  "So those games
[would] have gone to cable.  But with all our Washington problems
[antitrust], we were told that was a sensitive issue.  We thought
there might be a clamor from viewers [about regionalization] and
in some ways hoped there would be. ... Maybe Washington doesn't
care about the postseason being on cable anymore.  And unlike a
few years ago, there are technical ways to go to the displaced
fan" (Michael Heistand, USA TODAY, 10/5).
     CRITICISM FROM WITHIN:  Dodgers GM Fred Claire:  "We're
missing something when people here can't see a game in the East.
The best thing for baseball is exposure.  Instead of figuring out
a way to get them all on TV at the same time, we should be
figuring out how to get them on TV at different times" (L.A.
TIMES, 10/5).  AL VP Phyllis Merhige:  "I was going home to watch
the Boston-Cleveland game last night.  I was disappointed when I
couldn't get it.  But it's not baseball's decision.  The
regionalization decision was made by The Baseball Network"
(CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 10/5).             DISH JOCKEYS:  Several
areas are reporting that out-of-market games have been available
via satellite.  In Boston, Jack Craig reports, "Descrambling the
pictures is taking place among some satellite home dish owners
and bars, via a financial package of games with middle men, not
under baseball auspices" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/5).  One TBN official,
on the formal no-descrambling policy:  "It's a tough thing, I
know, but it's the best way to protect the affiliates and
ratings.  I know it's a tough issue, but we're leaving at the end
of the year" (Stan Olson, CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 10/5).  In San
Francisco, Bruce Jenkins writes, "Best idea for fans planning to
visit sports bars for the weekend games: Call ahead to make sure"
(S.F. CHRONICLE, 10/5).
     RATINGS AND AD DOLLARS:  The overall Nielsen rating for
Tuesday's four games on NBC was a 10.3 -- down 9% from the AL LCS
opener in '93 and 16% from the NL LCS opener in '92
(AP/Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/5).  The preliminary overnight
rating for last night's games (only for 8-11pm EDT) was a 12.7
(Nielsen Sports Marketing).  BROADCASTING & CABLE reports a
"mixed bag" for local ratings this season, with some markets
seeing a 1% ratings drop and others (Cleveland, Seattle,
California and Cincinnati) seeing "substantial" gains in the
second half (B&C, 10/2 issue).  CNBC examined the drop in
interest among advertisers this year.  Media buyer Thomas
DeCabia:  "It's not the sought-after property such as football or
even college football."  CNBC's Mabel Jong:  "Baseball is also
competing for ad dollars in one of the most competitive
advertising market places in recent memory with winning network
lineups and NFL football as formidable competition" (CNBC, 10/4).
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