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              Fox will begin meetings today with its affils in L.A.
         and discuss a plan to have affils help defray the cost of
         the network's $4.4B NFL deal, according to Rich Katz of
         DAILY VARIETY.  Fox had sent a letter that "outlined
         contributions it expects from its stations," which included
         a plan in which the affils "would return 15 spots per week
         to the network, beginning July 1."  The plan would require
         stations to "return money due from retransmission consent
         agreements expiring next year."  Beginning July 1, Fox would
         also "give back to affiliates three spots that were removed
         from local inventory under the NFL agreement that expired in
         January.  Money from these spots, sold locally, would go to
         the network, except for a 15% agency commission and 8% local
         sales commission."  Fox said it would also "increase" the
         number of affils' pre-game inventory to 13 spots, from 11,
         but "all the commissions would go to the network" (DAILY
         VARIETY, 6/4).  In related news, at the ABC affils meeting
         in Orlando, DAILY VARIETY reports that "progress has been
         made" in talks where stations would "contribute" about $30M
         to help ABC cover its new NFL contract."  A deal is expected
         in "a few weeks at the earliest" (DAILY VARIETY, 6/4).

    Print | Tags: ABC, NFL, Media, Walt Disney

              ESPN's ratings for the first quarter of '98 "plunged,"
         according to Scott Hettrick of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, who
         writes that the decline of ESPN's nightly 11:00pm ET
         "SportsCenter" is "most alarming."  Nielsen Media Research
         reported that "SportsCenter" lost 106,000 viewers -- more
         than 11% of its audience -- from '97's first quarter.  The
         show's average viewership now stands at 841,000.  Hettrick
         writes that while it's "not directly attributable" to ESPN's
         ratings decline, "Fox Sports News" has gained 132,000
         viewers from '97's fourth quarter and "appears to be making
         an impact" on ESPN.  "Fox Sports News" is averaging 311,000
         viewers per night, and its ratings have gone up 34% in L.A.
         and 17% in N.Y.  Hettrick also cites the departure of former
         ESPN anchor Keith Olbermann as another possible factor in
         "SportsCenter"'s ratings decline (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 6/4). 
              BIG PICTURE: ESPN's primetime viewership in the first
         quarter of '98 "dropped" 18% to 1.055 million, down from
         1.286 million a year ago.  Hettrick writes that what is
         "worse" is that ESPN's "explanation for the slide doesn't
         bode well for a turnaround," as a network spokesperson cited
         "more competition in sports programming and sports networks,
         greater fragmentation of the TV audience through digital
         cable and satellite services and more options in general for
         the male viewing audience ... None of which is likely to
         decrease in ESPN's favor."  Hettrick adds that the ratings
         decline "couldn't come at a worse time" for ESPN, which is
         looking to sell a 20-22.5% rate increase on cable operators
         to cover its $4.8B NFL deal (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 6/4).  

    Print | Tags: ESPN, NFL, Media, Walt Disney

              FROM CANADA: In Toronto, William Houston reports that
         the "key reason" for the delay in the Maple Leafs signing a
         cable rights deal "has been an impasse between Molson
         Breweries and the Leafs."  Molson, which is "desperate" to
         stay in hockey after losing "Hockey Night In Canada," wants
         a long-term deal, while the Leafs want a short-term
         contract.  In other news, Houston reports that CTV Sports
         Net (CTVSN) has acquired the rights to NBA basketball,
         alpine World Cup skiing and 12 World Curling Tour events. 
         The NBA package includes 10 playoff games next year and a
         "minimum" of 14 playoff games from 2000-2002.  CTVSN will
         also align with CTV's Outdoor Life Network for three years,
         to air 32 World Cup races (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 6/4). 
              OTHER NOTES: USA TODAY's Harry Blauvelt profiles The
         Golf Channel (TGC) and writes that the network is "expected
         to attain profitability this year," and is on track to have
         25 million subscribers by year's end.  The average age of
         TGC's viewer is 45, with men comprising 73% of the audience. 
         The average viewer household income is $60,000 (USA TODAY,
         6/4)....BSkyB and the new Scottish Premier League said they
         have agreed to a four-year deal worth $74M to air live
         soccer from Scotland beginning in August (REUTERS, 6/4).

    Print | Tags: BSkyB, English Premier League, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, NBA, Media, Toronto Maple Leafs

              For the first time in the NBA Finals, Web users can
         control robotic cameras in the Delta and United Centers' to
         choose their viewing options on, according to Steve
         Fidel of the DESERET NEWS. has positioned eight
         "tiny cameras" just above and behind the bank of network TV
         cameras at the Delta Center, and will do the same at the
         United Center -- a set-up which the NBA refers to as  Web users can click on to view the
         different camera shots, and Fidel wrote that the performance
         of the cameras depend on the number of Web users who are
         accessing the image.  If a camera is idle, a fan can control
         it directly, but if they are busy, the system "will return a
         picture another fan may have selected a few seconds to a few
         minutes earlier."  The NBA tested at the All-Star
         Game with two cameras (Steve Fidel, DESERET NEWS, 6/3).  The
         link for in located on's main page. 
              WORLDWIDE EVENT: The NBA said that media credentials
         have been issued to 237 international journalists from 38
         countries for the NBA Finals.  When the Bulls won their
         first title in '91, there were 51 international credentials
         issued, representing 11 countries.  In Boston, Peter May:
         "Sounds like commissioner David Stern's globalization policy
         is working quite nicely" (Peter May, BOSTON GLOBE, 6/4).  

    Print | Tags: Chicago Bulls, NBA, Media
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