SBD/10/Sports Media

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  • CBS PULLS PLUG ON WRIGHT; IS IT PERMANENT OR ONLY TEMPORARY?

         CBS Sports President David Kenin issued a statement
    yesterday announcing that golf analyst Ben Wright will not be
    part of CBS' golf broadcast team when coverage begins next month.
    Kenin acknowledged the "continuing controversy" over comments
    attributed to Wright "has detracted" from CBS' golf coverage and
    he said "there are no plans for Wright's return" (CBS Sports).
    In a statement issued by Wright's agent, RLR Associates of New
    York, Wright apologized to CBS, the LPGA and Wilmington News-
    Journal reporter Valerie Helmbreck.  Wright: "Despite the fact
    that I have been widely misquoted, there is no doubt that I have
    been guilty of making some insensitive remarks" (WASHINGTON POST,
    1/10)
         MEDIA REAX: In New York, Richard Sandomir calls it a "paid
    suspension" covering the length of his four-year contract with
    CBS -- reportedly worth around $1M.  The "fact that he was not
    fired holds out a thin, but unlikely possibility of
    reinstatement."  Sandomir notes there are  "few suitors" at other
    networks, while The Golf Channel may consider him in the future
    (N.Y. TIMES, 1/10).  A source "familiar" with Wright's contract
    told WASHINGTON POST that it was "remotely possible Wright could
    be put back on golf after a year."  A CBS source said honoring
    the contract was "a better alternative than a costly and
    prolonged lawsuit" (Leonard Shapiro, WASHINGTON POST, 1/10).
    ESPN's Keith Olbermann:  "As firings go, we should all be so
    lucky" ("SportsCenter," 1/9).  NEWSDAY's Steve Zipay notes one
    CBS Sports source said "something had to be done.  There were
    still no grounds for firing him.  But things were never quieting
    down, it got to be too much" (NEWSDAY, 1/10).  USA TODAY's
    Michael Hiestand notes CBS' statement offered "ambiguity and
    evasiveness to encourage speculation" on Wright's possible return
    (USA TODAY, 1/10).  In Atlanta, Prentis Rogers writes CBS is
    "trying to wash its hands of the controversy without totally
    removing the source of the controversy" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION,
    1/10).  Phil Mushnick notes, "Interestingly, Wright remains under
    contract."  But he adds "no one should hold his or her breath"
    for Wright's return (N.Y. POST, 1/10).  In Chicago, Steve Nidetz
    writes Wright is off the air "indefinitely.  For Now" (CHICAGO
    TRIBUNE, 1/10).  In Philadelphia, Diane Pucin writes "fine,
    upstanding CBS" will continue to pay Wright for four more years
    (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 1/10).  Columnist George Vecsey notes CBS
    "needed to get rid of the distraction," while adding "it is worth
    noting how long it took" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/10).  Kyle Smith of the
    N.Y. POST notes "the announcement was not only slow to come, but
    a total reversal of the network's staunch defense" of Wright
    (N.Y. POST, 1/10).  In Baltimore, Milton Kent writes CBS "did the
    right thing" -- even if it was late (Baltimore SUN, 1/10).
         OTHER REAX:  LPGA Commissioner Jim Ritts said CBS'
    announcement has "been too long in coming. But our patience has
    been rewarded" (USA TODAY, 1/10).  Ritts told George Vecsey of
    the N.Y. TIMES that Wright "will no longer be a distraction" and
    said the continued controversy had not affected tour sponsorships
    (N.Y. TIMES, 1/10).
    

    Print | Tags: CBS, ESPN, LPGA, Media, Viacom, Walt Disney
  • GOLF CHANNEL EYES RISE IN MEMBERSHIP WITH TIME WARNER DEAL

         The Golf Channel announced it has reached agreement with
    Time Warner Cable, the second largest cable operator in the
    country.  The deal allows individual Time Warner cable systems to
    negotiate with The Golf Channel and put the channel on their
    systems.  Time Warner Cable serves 11.5 million cable homes in
    the United States (Golf Channel).  Also, TGC has "finally made a
    breakthrough in Boston" with Cablevision introducing the channel
    last week to its subscribers, according to Jack Craig of the
    BOSTON GLOBE.  The channel now has 1.45 million subscribers
    nationwide, but "that number is growing steadily as regional
    systems are finally opening channels" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/7).  The
    Golf Channel has hired LPGA golfers Beth Daniel and Jane Geddes
    as analysts (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 1/9).
    

    Print | Tags: Cablevision, LPGA, Media, Time Warner
  • MEDIA NOTES

         SportsTicker announced their sports news and information
    service will be available on a pay-per-use basis through the Web
    Interactive Network distribution channel.  Information would be
    accessible via WIN's distribution program, which allows the
    purchase of software and information on a pay-per-use or rent-to-
    own basis directly from the home PC (SportsTicker)....ESPN's
    Charley Steiner reported the George Foreman/Michael Moorer bout
    scheduled for February 29 at Madison Square Garden is back on,
    now that the 47-year-old Foreman has met TVKO's demand that the
    fight is guaranteed to be "the end of the line" for Foreman's
    boxing career ("SportsCenter," 1/9).
    

    Print | Tags: Cablevision, ESPN, Madison Square Garden, Media, Walt Disney
  • MURDOCH LED GROUP BIDS FOR EUROPEAN OLYMPIC BROADCAST RIGHTS

         A consortium backed by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. has made
    a bid worth more than $2B for the European broadcasting rights
    for the Winter and Summer Olympics between 2000 and 2008.  The
    bid is the "fiercest challenge yet" to the European Broadcasting
    Union, which "negotiates collectively" on behalf of Europe's
    public service broadcasters for sports rights.  Until now, EBU
    "has always won the contract."   The bid delivered to the IOC on
    Monday was signed by Sam Chisholm, who is in charge of all News
    Corp. TV interests outside the U.S. and CEO of British Sky
    Broadcasting.  Other continental European broadcasters are
    believed to be in the consortium, as "its aim would be to show
    the Olympics on a mixture of subscription channels and
    terrestrial television networks" (Raymond Snoddy, FINANCIAL
    TIMES, 1/10).
    

    Print | Tags: IOC, News Corp./Fox, Media
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