SBD/8/Sports Media

NETWORK NEWS: NO DEAL W/FOX AND AFFILS; ESPN STILL TOP GUN

          Fox's spring affiliates meeting "adjourned Friday with
     no deal in place for the affiliates to help shoulder the
     cost" of Fox's new $4.4B NFL package, according to Jenny
     Hontz of DAILY VARIETY.  The "main stumbling block is Fox's
     unwillingness to link discussions about network programming
     exclusivity to talks over financing the NFL package." 
     Affils "want assurances they'll get NFL and other
     programming exclusively for both analog and digital TV
     broadcasts."  Another "sticking point" is that Fox wants a
     one-year deal, while the affils "want a longer, more iron-
     clad agreement covering the entire length of the NFL
     contract."  Meanwhile, Fox TV Chair & CEO Chase Carey told
     affils that total sports rights fees will approach $1B in
     annual expense, an increase of more than 50% over the
     current year.  Despite the cost, Hontz writes that Carey
     "picked on NBC for letting football go away because they
     said the economics didn't justify it."  Carey: "When all is
     said and done, that will go down as one of the defining
     moments of recent network history" (DAILY VARIETY, 6/8).
          STILL A JUGGERNAUT: CNBC's Don Dahler reported on
     ESPN's ratings dip, and possible lowered earnings
     expectations on Wall Street for Disney.  Jeffrey Logsdon of
     Cruttenden Roth: "If you're lowering your numbers on Disney,
     and you're using ESPN as kind of a flag to raise, you're
     probably throwing the baby out with the bathwater."  Dahler:
     "ESPN is like Michael Jordan -- still a long way ahead of
     the pack, even though they may have lost a step or two." 
     ESPN is still the 7th highest rated cable network, and 5th
     highest in the 18-49 demographic ("The Edge," CNBC, 6/5).

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ESPN, NBC, News Corp./Fox, NFL, Media, Walt Disney

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