SBD/14/Sports Media

ESPN IN THE BIDDING FOR LOCAL RIGHTS TO ROCKETS GAMES

          ESPN has "become the latest bidder" for Rockets home TV
     rights, joining Houston's KHTV and Fox Sports Southwest for
     the rights to 37 games, according to David Barron of the
     HOUSTON CHRONICLE.  Rockets Exec VP John Thomas said that
     ESPN's interest "did not come as a shock" as there has been
     "industry speculation" that it is looking to create a local
     sports network.  Thomas: "ESPN is participating in this
     business now and building a brand-new business, and you can
     imagine with the size of the entity the value they could
     potentially bring.  We need to carefully consider the
     possibility."  Barron added that ESPN would have "to come to
     an agreement with the Rockets and then negotiate with local
     cable carriers for a spot to broadcast the games."  ESPN's
     interest may "play out as incentive" for Fox Sports
     Southwest to increase its bid for the team, as the Rockets
     have the best rating of the 11 NBA teams that are broadcast
     on Fox Sports Net (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/10). 

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