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NFL WANTS A REAL COMMITMENT; CBS STILL IN THE RUNNING
Published January 12, 1998
The NFL "has asked its" five TV partners to pay a "combined increase of nearly 70%, for a total of about $1.85 billion annually, to retain broadcast rights," according to sources of Stefan Fatsis of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The incumbents -- ABC, Fox, NBC, ESPN and Turner --"have been summoned" for meetings today and tomorrow at the NFL's N.Y. offices and league execs "have told the networks they want to announce a final deal Wednesday." Sources add that the league "plans to let CBS enter the bidding if any of the incumbents seeks to switch from their current programming." Fatsis writes that the NFL "is demanding a longer contract, for either five or six years, with the league holding an option to extend the deal to a total of eight years." Fatsis also reports that the Monday night package "should have extra allure because the NFL has decided to move its starting time" from 9:00pm to 8:00pm ET, giving it "the entire prime-time evening in the East" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/12). In N.Y., Richard Sandomir reports that the NFL "is seeking eight-year deals, according to participants in the talks." Sandomir writes that the league "would have the option of opening up the contract during the deal, which it could exercise to get more money if the advertising market gets better than it already is" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/12). MORE SOURCES: In DC, Leonard Shapiro writes that league sources said CBS Sports "is still very much in the running for a piece of the action," and that it is "reportedly very interested in the Monday night schedule," as well as "other packages" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/12). NO CBA DEAL: On Sunday, NBC's Will McDonough reported that Steelers Owner Dan Rooney told him that "there's going to be no" extension of the current CBA ("NFL on NBC," 1/11).