SBD/19/Sports Media

ARE BROADCASTERS ROOT, ROOT, ROOTING FOR THE HOME TEAM?

          Every radio and TV broadcaster for the 30 MLB teams "is
     either paid by the club he or she covers or is hired with
     that club's approval," according to Ted Rose, who examines
     the relationship between teams and their announcers in
     BRILL'S CONTENT magazine.  Rose: "As a practical matter,
     these broadcasters are not independent journalists but
     conduits to the public for the team that directly or
     indirectly employs them. ... What viewers and listeners may
     not expect is that the boundaries for the ubiquitous on-air
     discussions are often set by the teams, not the
     broadcasters."  Indians VP/PR Bob DiBiasio, on announcers
     being a part of the team's marketing strategy: "What better
     opportunity do you have to sell your image than when your
     (team is) playing?  You have a three-hour window to present
     your product in the best way that you can" (CONTENT, 9/98).
          CONTROLLING INVENTORY: Astros Dir of Broadcasting Jamie
     Hildreth said the team helps decide what is discussed on-
     air: "I don't want to hear players' salaries discussed ...
     Let other people do that.  Anything positive we can get out
     in front of the public, I prefer them to accentuate." 
     Hildreth "believes fans aren't interested in negative
     comments, such as speculation" in the past that the team
     would move to VA.  Hildreth: "I don't think they want to
     hear that goop.  Maybe I am wrong.  If they want that, they
     can pick up the papers and tune in to the talk shows." 
     Marlins broadcaster Dave O'Brien, who is paid by the team,
     said he doesn't talk of the impending sale of the team. 
     O'Brien: "I'll almost never mention it.  Until the sale
     happens, I really don't think it's newsworthy."  Yankees
     radio voice Michael Kay, who has covered the team as a beat
     reporter for both the N.Y. Post and Daily News, received a
     championship ring from the team in '96, and was "clearly
     uncomfortable about the post-season gift."  Kay: "If I was
     covering the Yankees in '96 as a writer for the Post or
     News, I wouldn't get a ring" (BRILL'S CONTENT, 9/98 issue).

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