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Fox Sports received a 3.8 overnight rating for Fox Baseball's first broadcast Saturday. CBS averaged a 3.6 for its Saturday games in '93 -- the last season that a "Game of the Week" was aired (THE DAILY). REVIEWS: NEWSDAY's Steve Zipay writes the pre-game show was a "marshmallow" for avoiding mention of the latest Albert Belle incident. Fox said clips of Belle's forearm were seen in the early broadcast aired in most of the U.S. Zipay added, "For the concerned traditionalists, it looked like regular baseball" (NEWSDAY, 6/3). Noting black-and-white newsreel footage, the piece on scientific study of the baseball and early mentions of the Belle incident, Phil Mushnick writes, "That's journalism, whether Fox likes it or not" (N.Y. POST, 6/3). Also in New York, Richard Sandomir writes, "Fundamentally, Fox baseball looked remarkably like baseball" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/3). In Atlanta, Prentis Rogers writes, "For the most part, Fox did not look like a rookie covering baseball" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 6/3). In Chicago, Michael Hirsley notes, "Aside from the clever 'diamond' graphic, using dots to show how many and where runners were on base, Fox's initial live game telecast was competent but uninspired" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/3). USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke writes that the broadcasts did not match the "hype," with game coverage at "the norm" (USA TODAY, 6/3).
In Boston, Jack Craig examines the "nasty in-house dispute" among NESN's partners -- the Red Sox and Bruins vs. WSBK -- over the future of the regional sports network. Craig writes, "The issue is money, and indirectly, how quickly and how far NESN will move from a pay to a basic channel." One observer believes the legal action taken by the teams may lead to talks on a buyout of WSBK's 20% share (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/2)....In New York, Bob Raissman reports WPIX does not want to part with the Yankees, headed for MSG's new WBIS+. Also, the Nets will soon sign a new radio deal with WOR-AM (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/2)....The N.Y. TIMES' Bill Carter examines the networks' battles to gain cable access for their new all-news channels. NBC is threatening to pull network programming -- including the Olympics -- from any operator that refuses to carry MSNBC in place of America's Talking (N.Y. TIMES, 6/3).
In Denver, Dusty Saunders previews the schedules of NHL Stanley Cup Finals coverage from Fox and ESPN and reports that both networks "are voicing enthusiasm -- at least publicly -- about having Colorado [in the finals]." Fox Sports' Vince Wladika: "It's good to have new blood in the championship series, particularly since the hockey world knows the Avalanche has been playing so well." ESPN's Bob Clement noted the team's "aggressive" style and "recognizable stars" -- saying that will add up to strong "viewership value" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 6/2). The CBC's John Shannon, Exec Producer of "Hockey Night in Canada," said before Florida's Game 7 win that it was 50-50 on which team would be a better match with the Avalanche. Shannon did note that the enthusiasm in Denver and Miami has been "tremendous" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 6/1). NEWS & NOTES: SportsChannel Pacific will carry Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals in the Bay Area tomorrow since San Francisco's Fox affiliate, KTVU, has a programming conflict (SportsChannel Pacific)....The NHL and CBC are teaming up for a "cybercast" of finals' games at the CBC's Web site at http://www.nhl.com/cbc/cup (CBC)....Prior to yesterday's Jazz- Sonics game, NBC's Ed Markey compared the eventual winner to Houston in '94. Markey, on the Rockets: "They were talented, but not a big marquee-type team. Then people discovered Hakeem Olajuwon, and Houston got a bit of a national following" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 6/1). OFF-THE-COURT ACTION: In Chicago, Fred Mitchell notes that, before the Bulls start their series Wednesday, oral arguments will be heard in the antitrust case between team ownership and WGN against the NBA. The NBA has appealed both the January '95 and August '95 decisions allowing the Bulls to show 25 games on WGN-TV. The league wants to reduce superstation broadcasts to 20 (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/3).