SBD/21/Sports Media

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               While ESPN's "SportsCenter" airs highlights every
         night, the producers and hosts of the show "are concerned
         about the effect on their audience -- particularly younger
         viewers -- of replays showing professional athletes
         celebrating victories by making throat-slitting gestures or
         choke signs," according to Leonard Shapiro of the WASHINGTON
         POST.  ESPN's Dan Patrick, during a panel discussion
         sponsored by the Smithsonian Associates, on whether athletes
         are becoming more demonstrative to get on "SportsCenter":
         "We are guilty of showing gratuitous celebration, and I'm
         sure it leads to high school kids wanting to do it, too. 
         The whole thing of slitting your throat, that's
         embarrassing, and we shouldn't do that. ... If there's an
         honest, spontaneous celebration, great."  ESPN's Chris
         Berman: "I hate that.  I don't know if that's our problem. 
         If it is, we need to do something about it.  To me, that's
         an NBA thing.  It's one of the reasons I don't watch it very
         much."  ESPN Exec Editor John Walsh said that there "is
         increasing pressure" to include more sports on the show, but
         that the "obligation [is] to show to a large audience the
         sports that are most popular.  We have people from leagues
         petitioning us all the time for more coverage.  That's one
         of the big changes in the last five or six years.  We give a
         lot more time now to auto racing and golf because the
         interest is there" (Leonard Shapiro, WASHINGTON POST, 5/21).
              MORE ON HIGHLIGHTS: USA TODAY's "In Focus" section
         examined the culture of sports news networks.  FSN Exec
         Producer John Terenzio: "Hockey fights, car crashes,
         backboard-shattering dunks -- we show them all and make no
         bones about it.  There's viewer interest, and we're not
         ashamed of it."  ESPN News Dir Vince Doria said that the
         "top priority in highlights is their relevance" to a game
         story, "but there's room for interesting video -- and a
         backboard breaking is interesting video" (USA TODAY, 5/20). 
         In Baltimore, Milton Kent: "So all that talk out of last
         November's ESPN town meeting on sportsmanship must have been
         just that -- talk.  How else does one explain the judgement
         of 'SportsCenter' producers to lead yesterday's overnight
         show with the Orioles-Yankees melee over NBA and NHL playoff
         highlights and a three-homer performance from  
         St. Louis' Mark McGwire?" (Baltimore SUN, 5/21).   

    Print | Tags: Baltimore Orioles, ESPN, NBA, New York Yankees, NHL, Media, Walt Disney

              The Canadiens and Canadian junior hockey each "wrapped
         up significant" TV deals yesterday, but the Maple Leafs'
         regional TV picture "isn't cleared up yet," according to
         Lance Hornby of the TORONTO SUN.  The Canadiens agreed to a
         four-year deal with TSN to carry a minimum of 20 games a
         season, marking the Habs' first appearance on an English
         language network in midweek since '75-76.  CTV Sports Net
         (CTVSN) and the Canadian Hockey League agreed to a four-year
         deal to show a minimum of 65 games per season.  Hornby
         reports that both TSN and CTVSN "continue their battle" to
         control the regional midweek Leafs package."  A decision "is
         said to be about 10 days away" (TORONTO SUN, 5/21).  In
         Montreal, Pat Hickey writes that the Canadiens deal allows
         TSN "to maintain a presence in the NHL," after being outbid
         for the national package by CTVSN (GAZETTE, 5/21).  CTVSN
         was expected to announce that it had added the Expos to its
         program lineup yesterday, but CTV VP Doug Beeforth said that
         the deal "hasn't been signed yet" (FINANCIAL POST, 5/21).

    Print | Tags: Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Montreal Canadiens, NHL, Media, Toronto Maple Leafs

              PERSONALITIES: In Toronto, veteran Canadian announcer
         Don Chevrier ranked the best hockey "play-callers," and
         named Fox's Mike Emrick "in a class by himself," with ESPN's
         Gary Thorne at No. 2 and Rangers play-by-play man Sam Rosen
         third (William Houston, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 5/21).
         ...Flyers G Ron Hextall will work as a studio analyst for
         ESPN2's "NHL 2Night" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 5/21)....A
         cable outage in parts of Utah cut Insight Cable's service 20
         minutes into the Lakers-Jazz Game Two (DESERET NEWS, 5/20).
         ...CBS Sales President Joe Abruzzese told 1,000 onlookers at
         yesterday's CBS's fall network sales meeting, "No more
         Sunday afternoon movies, no more Sunday afternoon figure
         skating.  The AFC, .. is on the rise, and so is CBS."  CBS
         TV President Les Moonves: "The NFL will add male viewers and
         make us younger."  Abruzzese also said CBS is "on target"
         with ad projections of "breaking even this year," and has
         $25M in new advertisers for its AFC package (Rudy Martzke,
         USA TODAY, 5/21)....SportsLine USA shares fell 13% to 26 5/8
         on news "that it may have lost the competition for the
         production contract" for (HOLLY. REPORTER, 5/21). 

    Print | Tags: CBS, Comcast-Spectacor, ESPN, Los Angeles Lakers, NFL, NHL, Philadelphia Flyers, Media, Utah Jazz, Viacom, Walt Disney

              After ABC added "Sports Night," a sitcom starring
         Robert Guillaume loosely based on ESPN's "SportsCenter" to
         its fall lineup, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, a former ESPN
         anchor, said, "I suppose you could do a half-hour
         entertainment show based on 'SportsCenter.'"  While the
         sitcom "might work," Olbermann said the "problem is the
         name.  There's an awfully short corporate memory over there
         at ABC. ... Back when I worked at ESPN, we started something
         called ESPN2, and they made me go and do the flagship show
         of the new network.  Flagship.  Flagship like 'Titanic' was
         a flagship.  The show was so bad it was selected as the
         seventh-worst thing to happen in sports in the year 1993, by
         Sports Illustrated. ... The name of this abomination?
         'Sports Night.'  Good luck, boys" (MSNBC, 5/20).

    Print | Tags: ABC, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Media, Walt Disney
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