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The Colts will replace WIBC-AM as its radio flagship for WFBQ and WNDE, according to Robin Miller of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR-NEWS. Colts Exec Dir of Business Development Ray Compton said the deal was not signed "yet," but that the team had "verbally accepted another offer." Compton added the new deal enables the team to market their own advertising and programming. WIBC was the original flagship of the Colts in '84, but lost the rights to WFBQ and WNDE in '92, before "regaining them" in '95. WIBC Owner Jeff Smulyan, who has "lobbied long and hard to keep" the Colts in Indianapolis, was "seething" after the decision. Smulyan: "My understanding is that the offers were identical, and it's incomprehensible they could have offered more than we did. ... Where's the loyalty?" Compton said it was "as tough a decision as he's ever made." Although terms were not disclosed, Miller reported that WIBC paid $1M for rights fees in '97, and that Compton is "hopeful" that figure "can double by selling in-house advertising" (STAR- NEWS, 1/9). Miller writes today under the header, "Colts And Irsay Hit All-Time Low With Radio Deal." He calls the move "an appalling breach of trust, friendship and community relations" from team Owner Jim Irsay to Smulyan after Smulyan "gave Irsay invaluable support in reworking his stadium lease with the city" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR-NEWS, 1/12).
Fox Sports will air "Oscar De La Hoya's Big Fight Night" on March 23 -- the same night as ABC's broadcast of the Academy Awards. The telecast is being dubbed "Oscar versus 'The Oscars.'" The card, which will air live from 8:00-10:00pm ET, will take place at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, CT and feature four fights. Fox's James Brown will call the action, and De La Hoya will serve as an analyst. Top Rank will also promote the bouts (Fox). THE ICE MELTS: USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke reports that Fox's James Brown has the "first joint interview" with Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding which will air on Fox on February 5 (USA TODAY, 1/12). The show will be titled "Lillehammer Revisited" and be seen in prime-time (THE DAILY).
In N.Y., TV critic Eric Mink gives tonight's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" three-and-a-half stars. Mink: "This program needs to appear more often" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/12)....Sunday's N.Y. TIMES' "Money & Business" section featured a cover story by Mark Landler titled, "From Gurus To Sitting Ducks: Media Executives Lose Their Edge." Landler writes that today's top media execs are "spooked" by the Internet because they "did nothing to develop it and little to popularize it." Landler: "And even now, though they all maintain sites on the World Wide Web -- some of them, like the Disney-owned [ESPN SportsZone], are extremely popular -- it is not clear how genuinely the media chiefs embrace the net" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/11)....After signing its over-the-air rights to Silver King Broadcasting for next season, the Heat "has lost its halftime show and its postgame coverage for the balance of the season" on current over-the-air carrier WBFS-UPN (SUN-SENTINEL, 1/12).