SBD/20/Franchises

THE DAY AFTER: BOTH SIDES DOWNPLAY YANKS/CABLEVISION TALKS

          Both the Yankees and Cablevision issued statements
     after yesterday's NEWSDAY report that Yankees Owner George
     Steinbrenner had held discussions with Cablevision Chair
     Charles Dolan about the possibility of buying the team.  The
     Yankees said that Steinbrenner and Dolan had met and "the
     possibility of Cablevision buying into the Yankees was
     discussed.  But no deal was made.  The Steinbrenners will be
     with the Yankees for many years to come.  'The Boss' is here
     to stay" (Yankees).  In a separate statement, Cablevision
     CEO Jim Dolan said, "We maintain an active interest in the
     future of our relationship with the Yankees and are open to
     any ideas that Mr. Steinbrenner may have" (Cablevision).
          STILL TALKING? A "well-placed" source told NEWSDAY's
     Jon Heyman that a Cablevision "overture to buy the Mets was
     rebuffed more than a year ago" before it began talks with
     Steinbrenner.  But sale talks with the Yankees "remain very
     much alive."  Club sources "maintained yesterday that there
     is serious interest on Steinbrenner's part" in a deal
     estimated between $650-700M.  One source disputed the phrase
     "buying into" in the Yankees statement "and affirmed the
     original report from Newsday that Cablevision would become
     the principle owner under the terms being discussed." 
     Steinbrenner, on Newsday's report: "That's somebody popping
     off about something they know nothing about.  That's so
     ridiculous."  Moments later though, he added, "I don't rule
     anything out."  Cablevision declined comment when asked
     about its past interest in the Mets (NEWSDAY, 3/20).  The
     N.Y. DAILY NEWS reports that while Steinbrenner and Dolan
     have met about renewing the Yankees TV deal, a source close
     to Cablevision said, "Everything's on the table" (N.Y. DAILY
     NEWS, 3/20).  In N.Y., sources told Cauley & Fatsis that a
     "major hurdle" in the sale talks is Steinbrenner's "demand
     that he retain management control of the franchise for the
     next 15 years" (Cauley & Fatsis, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/20). 
          CABLEVISION TIE-IN: CNN's Lou Dobbs reported that
     speculation about a Yankees deal "and a recommendation from
     Goldman Sachs sent Cablevision stock sharply higher" on 
     Thursday, gaining $8 to close at $120.25 ("Moneyline," CNN,
     3/19).  In N.Y., Geraldine Fabrikant writes that the
     acquisition of "even a partial stake in the Yankees makes
     sense for Cablevision" and would give it "a near lock on the
     metropolitan area's professional sports market" (N.Y. TIMES,
     3/20).  But the DAILY NEWS' Bob Raissman writes that
     Cablevision's buying the Yankees "would be bad news for the
     fans" as it already owns the Knicks and Rangers and holds TV
     rights to the Yankees, Devils, Nets and Islanders.  Dolan
     has previously talked about creating various team TV cable
     packages at a "premium price" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/20).  A
     NEWSDAY editorial, on a possible Cablevision purchase of the
     Yankees: "That kind of domination of sports programming ...
     should raise questions" (NEWSDAY, 3/20).

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