SBD/20/Sports Media

CABLE OPERATORS WATCHING CLOSELY THE PLAN FOR FX

     The future of Fox's fX cable channel in the wake of the Fox-
Liberty sports alliance is examined by VARIETY's Joe Flint.  The
partnership plans to use fX as a "major part" of its sports
plans, turning it into a "nationally distributed, general
entertainment and sports network."  Flint notes that fX "already
has the entertainment; how it will incorporate the sports -- and
how much it will have to incorporate -- is the key question."  fX
will start carrying MLB telecasts in '97 and could start carrying
other sports, including the NHL and some regional programming as
part of the Liberty venture.  Flint reports cable operators are
watching "closely," as those that don't carry fX "would be more
interested if it had a heavy load of sports, while those that do
carry the network are nervous about an overhaul."  One cable
operator warned:  "If the model is USA Network or TNT, then it
would probably be consistent with what they sold us.  However, if
it is anything close to a regional sports channel or a network
with a strong load of secondary sports, then it is totally out of
bounds.  If TCI and Fox think that is what they will create, then
they'll have a revolution on their hands" (VARIETY, 12/17 issue).
     GIVE HIM LIBERTY:  Liberty Media President Peter Barton
discusses their partnership with Fox in the current issue of
INSIDE MEDIA.  On securing MLB TV rights, Barton said what made
the Fox-Liberty partnership attractive to baseball were their
national-local "interrelationships."  Barton:  "We have the
rights here to cross-promote between the regionals, which show on
the order of 1,200 baseball games a year -- more than anybody
else ... Nobody else really has that kind of cross-promotional
and branding capability" (Brockinton & Reynolds, INSIDE MEDIA,
12/13 issue).
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