SBD/6/Sports Media

PLAYOFF CONTROVERSY: BASEBALL NETWORK DOESN'T HAVE MONOPOLY

     KNBR-AM, the San Francisco affiliate for the CBS Radio
Networks' broadcast of the MLB divisional playoffs, has been
bucking the network's policy that calls for exclusive coverage of
one series, and plans to continue doing so in the face of a
"cease and desist" letter from CBS.
     While CBS' agreement with MLB calls for affiliates to choose
one series and stick with it for its duration, KNBR has put
together its own format which draws on CBS' feeds with KNBR
announcers directing inning-by-inning updates on all four games.
In between updates, the station has been clearing CBS' ad
inventory, as well as its own.
     In a letter dated yesterday, Eileen Thorgusen, District
Dir/Affiliate Relations for CBS Radio in L.A., cited the
network's agreement with MLB and informed KNBR that they must end
their "spliced" broadcasts.  In a subsequent written response,
KNBR Program Dir Bob Agnew asked them to reconsider.  Later, in
an interview with THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY, Agnew said he
intends to continue with the broadcasts claiming "overwhelming
support" from listeners.  He also said he is not alone.
According to Agnew, Chicago's WMVP has been jumping from game to
game, with permission.
     As explained by Helene Blieberg, VP/Communications at CBS
Radio Networks, the contractual arrangements with the 330
stations carrying CBS' MLB feed are clear -- that they will air
one series live and in its entirety.  Should games end while
others are in progress, that coverage can be picked up.  In
addition, if a series ends early, a station can switch to
another.  Blieberg had no knowledge of a waiver for Chicago's
WMVP, saying "that could not be true" under the contract.  CBS
Radio's MLB deal runs through '99.      "There is no downside to
what we are doing," Agnew told THE DAILY.  "There is no negative,
other than archaic, old-school thinking."  Agnew noted their
approach was designed to respond to the "unique situation" facing
those carrying baseball this year, particularly in the Bay Area
where attendance showed such a precipitous drop.  As he stated in
his response to Thorgusen, "All of us in the baseball business
must wake up right now or we're going to be in worse shape than
we already are."
     On their response should KNBR go ahead with its program,
Blieberg told THE DAILY, "We will have to deal with that if and
when it comes up."  She offered no specifics on a possible
response, but Agnew said that if they decide to "pull the plug"
on KNBR's baseball feeds, "they will never find another station
in the market to take on baseball."  Asked if losing the World
Series is a concern, Agnew said, "Fine.  It's on their shoulders"
(THE DAILY).
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