SBD/19/Sports Media

U.S. 500 GETS AIR TIME ON ESPN, GOES UP AGAINST INDY 500

     ESPN will carry live coverage of the first running of the
U.S. 500 at the Michigan International Speedway on May 26, the
same day ABC covers the Indianapolis 500.  ESPN will provide 3
1/2 hours of live coverage beginning at 2:00pm ET. The Indy 500
will start at 12:00pm ET, meaning the races in part will go head
to head (IndyCar).  CART teams and drivers who make up the
IndyCar Series have chosen to run a 500-mile race at Michigan on
the dame day of the Indy 500 because of a dispute with Tony
George, President of the Indianapolis track and founder of the
Indy Racing League (THE DAILY).
     REACTION:  ABC Sports spokesperson Mark Mandel said their
plans won't change in the face of competition from the U.S. 500
and ESPN.  Mandel said ABC has "one race [Indy 500], ESPN has the
other."  He said ABC was not surprised by the announcement,
adding only, "The Indy 500 has got the tradition and is on a
network and will have a much better rating.  There is no question
about that."  IRL spokesperson Bob Walters said that "obviously"
Cap Cities/ABC, (owners of ESPN) "weren't that interested in
covering the race since they didn't make the announcement
earlier."   Walters said that Cap Cities/ABC might have felt
"compelled" to show the race "since they couldn't sell it" to any
other network.  Walters didn't wish to criticize the deal, adding
"we are trying to focus on what we are doing.  The Indy 500 is a
tremendous promotional avenue."  There will be close to 80 hours
of Indy 500 programming in the month of May on ESPN, ESPN2 and
ABC.  ABC will broadcast all five IRL events. All IndyCar teams
and drivers are still invited to compete in the Indy 500.  ESPN
was unavailable for comment (THE DAILY).
     ALL IN THE FAMILY:  While both ESPN and ABC are owned by Cap
Cities-ABC, itself soon to be owned by Disney, the rights to all
CART races are held by OCC, Ohlmeyer Communications.  OCC is, in
turn, owned by ESPN, which buys the time for CART races to get on
air.  INDY CAR RACING MAGAZINE:  "When efforts to place the race
on a broadcast network failed, ESPN was the logical choice" (ICR,
1/18).
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