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Pilson Communications, the TV consulting and representation firm headed by former CBS Sports President Neal Pilson, marked its first anniversary yesterday. PCI has singed more than a dozen clients, including NASCAR, Int'l Speedway Corp. and Arena Football (PCI)....HBO's "Arli$$" comedy series about a sports agent debuts in August (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 7/1)....The current BROADCASTING & CABLE looks at technological advances in sports TV, including "Foxifying Baseball" (B&C, 7/1 issue)....The Tribune Co. agreed to buy Renaissance Communication Corp. for $1.13B in cash. The deal will add six TV stations to the ten Tribune already holds, making it the largest TV broadcaster in the country "in terms of the number of households it reaches" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/2)....The USTA announced that sports agency ISPR has been selected as the exclusive representative for U.S. Open int'l TV broadcast rights for '97-2000 (USTA)....Phillies President Bill Giles, and acting Commissioner Bud Selig will appear on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday to discuss the state of the game with Tim Russert and Bob Costas (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 7/2).
According to research by Newport, RI-based Performance Research, the level of ESPN's X Games fans' sponsor loyalty is higher than that of the Olympics (USA TODAY, 7/2).... Herndon, VA-based Network Solutions Inc. "inadvertently pulled the plug last week" on MSNBC, the joint on-line service of Microsoft and NBC. The firm, which responsible for controlling Internet addresses, acted on the "false belief" that MSNBC had neglected to pay a $100 fee. MSNBC's Web connection was restored by Friday, but not before a test audience was denied access its previews of the Summer Olympics (WASHINGTON POST, 7/2)....NBC's "Today" show will begin broadcasting from Atlanta starting July 17 (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 7/2)....NBC's coverage of the women's Olympic gymnastics trials Sunday night generated a 9.6 Nielsen overnight rating (N.Y. TIMES, 7/2).
With a "scant month" to go before the NFL exhibition season, the Ravens still have not reached a decision on TV and radio partners, according to the Baltimore SUN. But Ravens Exec VP David Modell said an answer should come tomorrow. Some programmers and salespersons have privately "grumbled" that the "perceived delay" in making the decision and the shortened sales time the delay has caused will "make it difficult" to make any deal a successful one. Modell says the Ravens are taking the extra time to ensure they make the right decision. Modell said the team will produce its three TV preseason games and buy airtime from a local station. He also said the team is deciding whether to accept a rights fee from a radio station or to produce those games after buying time. Hearst Broadcasting and Infinity are considered the leading contenders for the radio rights if the team takes a bid (Baltimore SUN, 7/2). TEAM NOTES: Jazz VP for Broadcasting Randy Rigby said the team should be ready to announce a new flagship station "in the next seven days." As for buying a station outright, Rigby says the team would like to, but added they have not found the right property yet (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 7/2).