SBD/30/Sports Media

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              The new post-position draw for Saturday's Kentucky
         Derby, which "was introduced to make more interesting
         television for ESPN, turned into an embarrassing mix-up"
         last night, according to Bill Christine of the L.A. TIMES. 
         This year, Churchill Downs decided to let trainers draw
         numbers to determine the order in which they would select
         post positions for the race.  In previous years, the numbers
         drawn were the post positions.  ESPN host Chris Lincoln, who
         was serving as both TV commentator and draw official, drew
         the first twelve numbers, but then "appeared confused as the
         selection order was drawn for the final three horses." 
         Following a commercial break, Derby officials "ruled the
         entire draw would have to be redone."  Churchill Downs
         President Tom Meeker was "angry and chagrined" by the
         developments.  Meeker: "All of the pills were gone, and not
         all of the horses' names had been accounted for. ... [I]t
         was unfortunate and embarrassing."  Christine adds that it
         "wasn't clear" what happened, and that even Lincoln "wasn't
         sure."  Lincoln: "I held the pills too long" (L.A. TIMES,
         4/30).  In N.Y., Joseph Durso reports that the format change
         for the draw was made after last year's Derby broadcast got
         "exceptionally low ratings."  Meeker, on the snafu: "It
         happened because we let television control it.  I'm
         embarrassed.  Racing officials should control racing" (N.Y.
         TIMES, 4/30).  Also in N.Y., Bill Finley calls the situation
         "one of the most embarrassing moments in the history of
         horse racing" and notes Lincoln misread one of the pills,
         and assigned the number 15 to two horses (DAILY NEWS, 4/30).
              BLAME, BLAME, BLAME: In N.Y., David Grenig writes that
         it was Meeker's "idea to change the format" in the first
         place.  After the broadcast, Meeker "fumed" that he was
         "through with ESPN."  Meeker: "I'm through with Chris
         Lincoln.  He's totally incompetent."  However, trainer D.
         Wayne Lukas said that he is "still a big proponent of the
         new draw."  Lukas: "I think we take it a little too lightly. 
         We need to do it more like the NBA or NFL.  We are not in
         the comedy business" (N.Y. POST, 4/30). Trainer Bob Baffert:
         "They wanted some drama -- they got it" (CNN/SI, 4/29).  In 
         Chicago, Jim O'Donnell writes that ESPN's broadcast was a
         "near-total disaster," adding that even after the draw
         confusion the telecast "continued to drift in and out of
         clarity."  One veteran KY racing official: "This was all
         quite embarrassing" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 4/30). In
         Philadelphia, Dick Jerardi calls the draw show a "giant
         embarrassment."  Jerardi: "Mostly, it was just a ridiculous
         episode.  It should have been easy" (DAILY NEWS, 4/30).

    Print | Tags: Churchill Downs Inc., ESPN, NBA, NFL, Sports Illustrated, Media, Walt Disney

              Fox/Liberty Networks and Century Communications Corp.
         have reached a national distribution agreement for
         Fox/Liberty Network channels, including Fox Sports Net and
         its RSNs, FX, Fox Sports World and Fox Sports Americas.  The
         deal brings Fox/Liberty Networks to Century subscribers in
         more than 1.1 million homes in 14 states (Fox).  The deal
         means Century subscribers in L.A. will "finally" get Fox
         Sports West 2, according to Scott Hettrick of the HOLLYWOOD
         REPORTER.  Century had "been one of the last two major
         holdouts along with Comcast" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 4/30).  

    Print | Tags: Cablevision, Comcast-Spectacor, New York Liberty, Media

              Tuesday night's Knicks-Heat playoff game earned a 6.1
         rating on MSG, the highest rating for a Knicks game this
         season (N.Y. POST, 4/30)....CTV says that the 28% decrease
         in its NBA ratings this season was caused by the absence of
         prime-time telecasts.  Last year, the net aired three prime-
         time games.  CTV's Sunday afternoon NBA numbers were down
         15% (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 4/30)....The Magic will appoint
         Dennis Neumann as their radio play-by-play announcer next
         season.  Neumann has been studio host for Magic telecasts
         (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 4/30)....In Dallas, Holly Cain gives
         "thumbs down" to Formula One's new TV deal with FSN. 
         Whereas "easy access" ESPN and ESPN2 used to do live
         broadcasts, FSN affils "decide when to air the races, and
         sometimes that means a tape delay."  While SpeedVision
         carries all the races live, "few" TX stations carry that
         channel (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 4/30)....SportsFan Radio has
         acquired exclusive rights to broadcast and syndicate
         national radio coverage of the '98 Preakness.  SportsFan has
         also added Cleveland's WKNR as an affil (BROADCASTING &
         CABLE, 4/27 issue)....In N.Y., Neal Travis reports that The
         Marquee Group is "getting into women's sports and books" and
         is repping Ellen Ladowsky, who co-authored "How To Dump A
         Guy: A Coward's Manual" (N.Y. POST, 4/30).

    Print | Tags: Cablevision, ESPN, Formula One, Madison Square Garden, Miami Heat, NBA, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Media, Walt Disney
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