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The upcoming AVP season is examined by Brockinton & Reynolds of INSIDE MEDIA, and it touts "new sponsors, more live TV coverage, increased national/local promotional activities, enhanced on-site amenities and adjusted on-court rules." American Honda and Volleyball magazine have become official sponsors and NJ-based ISI has been retained to land sponsorship and media packages. ISI is looking to find a soft drink, water and isotonic beverage sponsor after Coca- Cola/PowerAde dropped its AVP package (INSIDE MEDIA, 1/29). SIDE OUT W/PEACOCK? Brockinton & Reynolds note that the "big question" for the AVP is whether '97 "will mark the final year of the AVP on NBC." NBC's schedule, featuring "more golf" and a commitment to the WNBA "in late-afternoon time slots ... is a lot more crowded" than when the network first signed the AVP. AVP CEO Jerry Solomon: "NBC has been and continues to be a great supporter of the AVP. We feel there should be six to ten AVP telecasts on broadcast per year ... So we're right in the ballpark." NBC Sports Senior VP/Programming Jon Miller: "The AVP is a good property that helped us fill a niche six years ago when we lost Major League Baseball and before we had Notre Dame football, more golf and now the WNBA. Jerry understands the network sports business and the need to be flexible. We have every intention that the AVP will be back in some format" (INSIDE MEDIA, 1/29 issue).
A federal appeals court ruled that Motorola and Stats, Inc. can transmit real-time NBA game scores and statistics taken from radio and TV broadcasts, according to Michael Rapoport of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The 3-0 ruling reversed a lower court ruling "which had enjoined" Motorola and Stats, Inc. from disseminating information over pager systems called Sportstrax and other online services. NBA Legal Counsel Jeffrey Mishkin said the league plans to appeal the ruling (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/31). HOT TEST: The appeals court ruled that the NBA had not met "a narrowly tailored 'hot news' test for prevailing on such a misappropriation claim." The court ruled that neither Motorola nor Stats were "free-riding" on the NBA's information. The court also ruled that while "broadcasts of athletic events are protected by copyright, the events themselves aren't because they aren't 'original works of authorship' under the law." The outcome isn't know in advance and "wholly unexpected events may influence it." The court said the ruling "applies equally" to an AOL site featuring information provided by Stats. Stats attorney Andrew Deutsch said he expects a separate NBA suit against AOL and Stats to be dropped (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/31). In N.Y., Lawrie Mifflin writes that the ruling "reiterated that the facts and scores of a basketball game were facts, and that under Federal copyright law, facts could not be copyrighted." In her ruling for the NBA, lower court Judge Loretta Preska noted the league's commercial property rights were being taken without compensation. But the appeals court ruled that the NBA claim "confuses three different products:" the games, radio and TV broadcasts of those games, and retransmission of "strictly factual information" about those games. The opinion said: "The first and second products are the N.B.A.'s primary business ... [but] there is no evidence that anyone regards Sportstrax or the AOL site as a substitute for attending N.B.A. games or watching them on television" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/31). REAX: On "Moneyline," CNN's Lou Dobbs called the ruling a "big legal victory" for Motorola. Dobbs noted the court "said the NBA failed to prove that it was harmed by the transmission of those scores." Dobbs added that the ruling could also be a "boon" to AOL ("Moneyline," CNN, 1/30). Motorola Attorney Herbert Schwartz: "It's also an important result for online providers and for the Internet because it also allows people like America Online to give updated scores in real time as the game goes on. ... It's important for the new media in terms of their ability to transmit facts promptly once those facts have been made public over TV or radio" ("Market Wrap," CNBC, 1/30). ESPN's Bob Ley noted the ruling was a "loss" for the NBA ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 1/30). In Chicago, Howard Wolinsky notes Stats and Motorola "scored big" with the ruling. As for Sportstrax, Motorola attorney Roger Dusberger said, "Sportstrax is a great product with a lot of pent-up demand. But Motorola management will need to re-evaluate whether and how to move forward with the product" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/31).
Dennis Rodman will meet with NBA Commissioner David Stern today in New York, according to Lacy Banks of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. Rodman and agent, Dwight Manley, will meet with Stern to discuss the league's 11-game suspension and directive to undergo counseling. Sources tell Banks that Atlanta psychiatrist Dr. Lloyd Baccus will be present at today's meeting, but Manley said Rodman "will undergo no treatment or counseling by any psychiatrist." Neither Rev. Jesse Jackson nor NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter will attend, but sources say Jackson "served as a catalyst" for today's talks through conversations with NBA Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/31). YAZ: In N.Y., POST's gossip columnist Neal Travis notes Rodman "is about to become a major motion picture star" with his upcoming performance in the Jean-Claude Van Damme movie, "Double Team." Sources say Rodman's "screen presence" is "already causing an industry buzz" (N.Y. POST, 1/31). MOVING ON UP: The NBPA will stay in New York City after Exec Dir Billy Hunter was "seriously weighing" a move to Washington, DC, according to Dan Wasserman on SportsTicker. The NBPA's lease on its midtown Manhattan office ended last month, and Hunter has signed a five-year lease that will move the NBPA's office to an upgraded facility just four blocks from the current location (SportsTicker, 1/30).
NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue was a guest on ESPN's "Up Close" last night. Excerpts from his interview: On Super Bowl XXXII in San Diego: "The timetable is up in the air because of the court case. ... Hopefully we can play the game there ... but it's at risk now. ... We'll have to look at contingency plans and we're doing that. The Rose Bowl ... would love to host the game, I'm sure there would be other cities." On the league's substance abuse policy: "You want to have standards, we have them. You want stiff discipline, we have it. In most cases, tougher than people would run into in the courts." On the next TV deal: "CBS has made it clear that they want to be part of the conversations, and I would expect eventually they would be." On an 18-game schedule: "The 16 games over the 17 weeks works extremely well ... I think we'll be with the same schedule for the regular season, we might look at a different approach for the preseason" (ESPN, 1/30).