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OPEN L.A. MARKET SEEMS TO HAVE LITTLE IMPACT ON NFL TV TALKS
Published January 16, 1998
The NFL securing a $17.6B TV rights deal without committing a team to L.A. was examined by Randy Harvey of the L.A. TIMES. Harvey wrote that the L.A. factor "wasn't one, even for the two networks that do extensive business here, Fox and Disney." Harvey: "When it comes to acquiring an NFL franchise, it's clearer than ever that it's a seller's market. If [L.A.] is interested in buying, it must do a better job of selling itself to the NFL" (L.A. TIMES, 1/15). NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol: "The league carefully and consistently avoided telling the networks whether an L.A. team would be in the AFC or NFC. There are no guarantees for an L.A. team." Fox COO Chase Carey: "From our position, it's a positive to have a team in L.A. But in this process, there are too many uncertainties and it didn't come into an account" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 1/16). MORE NFL FALLOUT: NEWSDAY's Steve Zipay quotes one network "spy" who described dealing with the NFL owners who led the NFL TV committee: "These were the hawks, not the doves. They won. It was like they were wearing masks and carrying Uzis" (NEWSDAY, 1/16)...In Toronto, Sun Media Corp. President Paul Godfrey said that despite the fact the deal will likely increase the cost for an expansion team, "I'll continue to knock on their door and ask for a membership card" (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/16)....In Atlanta, Terence Moore writes with the NFL's new riches, the Smith family should "take the money and run" and sell the Falcons. Moore: "If you're the Smiths ... you sell" (ATL. CONSTITUTION, 1/16). REAX: A S.F. CHRONICLE editorial: "The NFL has become the ultimate loss-leader for the networks in their attempt to reach male viewers. These insane bidding wars were, on balance, a negative for viewers. First of all, the networks are dumping massive resources into rights to existing programming instead of developing fresh fare. ... The only clear winners in the war over NFL rights are the owners and athletes who will share the bounty" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 1/16). Under the header, "Breaking Point For Sports?," a SALT LAKE TRIBUNE editorial states, "Maybe in the next eight years, people won't watch as many NFL games, and advertisers won't pay so much to the networks, and the networks will be left drowning in red ink as a result of this week's unbelievable contracts. Maybe this is when Americans will reach their saturation point and the golden sports egg will finally crack" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 1/16). In DC, Thomas Boswell: "The next time an NFL team raises its tickets by a penny, there'll be outrage. And there should be. ... And what will happen the next time an NFL team begs for tax money to build a luxury stadium ... The vote on that referendum ought to be 1,000,000 to 0" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/16).