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Published June 5, 1998
ESPN: Responding to a Hollywood Reporter story that showed a decline in ratings for ESPN and "SportsCenter," while noting an increase in ratings for "Fox Sports News," ESPN's Mike Soltys said, "Nielsen research for the February sweeps in 39 major markets shows that Fox's rating went down, not up. SportsCenter delivers eight times the audience of Fox Sports News" (USA TODAY, 6/5). As for ESPN's ratings dip, Soltys pointed to fragmentation throughout the TV sports audience, adding that "a lot of our fragmentation is partially internal," with viewers shifting to ESPN2, ESPNews or Classic Sports Network (THE DAILY)....ESPN's Stuart Scott signed a multi-year contract extension (HARTFORD COURANT, 6/5)....Excite Inc. said it has reached a deal with Disney to provide access to some Disney Web sites, including ESPN SportsZone and ABC.com (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/5). THE THREE AMIGOS ON NBC: In Boston, Howard Manly writes that NBC's NBA crew "is not perfect," but Bob Costas, Isiah Thomas and Doug Collins "are right just a little more than they are wrong" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/5). In L.A., Larry Stewart writes that without Doug Collins, NBC "would be saddled with the possibly the worst announcing team on an NBA finals since the CBS days of Brent Musburger and Tommy Heinsohn." He says Collins "might be the best basketball commentator since Rick Barry" (L.A. TIMES, 6/5)....The distant relationship between N.Y. Post columnist/NBC analyst Peter Vecsey and his brother, N.Y. Times columnist George Vecsey, is profiled by SI's S.L. Price. Jazz President Frank Layden, on Peter's influence in NBA circles: "I see it in our people: They're afraid of him. Even people in the league -- higher up -- are afraid of him." NBC's Bob Costas says Peter "carries grudges, he exacts his revenge. Get on his s---list, and you stay there for a long time" (SI, 6/8). NOTES: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir reports that Saturday's Evander Holyfield-Henry Akinwande SET PPV fight will use a camera mounted 25 to 35 feet above the ring. The camera will follow fighters in their ring walks and to "peer at them" between rounds (N.Y. TIMES, 6/5)....In N.Y., Allen Barra reviewed "The Commissioners," the new book by Chicago Tribune columnist Jerome Holtzman and published by Total Sports. Barra writes that the book about MLB's leaders "is a mostly sad and comic chronicle about men who were hired under personal services contracts by the owners and almost immediately fell under the delusion that they represented the fans and the players as well" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/31).