SBD/Issue 56/Sports Media

Media Notes

Melrose Back At ESPN
With New Three-Year Deal
In Dallas, Barry Horn reported Barry Melrose, who served as ESPN's main NHL analyst for 12 years before leaving this summer to become coach of the Lightning, is "moving back to Bristol" after agreeing to a new three-year deal with the net. Melrose was fired as Lightning coach after just 16 games this season (DALLASNEWS.com, 12/3). NEWSDAY's Neil Best writes current ESPN NHL analyst Matthew Barnaby's on-air role "will be unchanged" (NEWSDAY.com, 12/4). Melrose will make his return on January 1, coinciding with the Red Wings-Blackhawks Winter Classic (ESPN).

NEW VENTURE: Bobcats Owner and BET Founder Bob Johnson participated in a Q&A with TVNEWSDAY, which reported Johnson is "proposing to launch another network targeting black viewers, this time using digital broadcasting as the distribution platform rather than cable." Johnson's partner in the project is Ion Media, which owns stations in 42 markets and has been "struggling for years to find programming that will produce some audience and revenue growth." When asked what he envisions "in terms of programming" for the net, Johnson said, "I really don't know yet. I know it's got to have a public interest focus. It's got to serve the broad base of the urban population, which is sorely underserved. So, I'm thinking about a range of things -- going out to Hollywood and talking to some of the top African-American producers to see what they'd like to see on television that they can't get on" (TVNEWSDAY.com, 12/2).

BUCS OVER DENNY CRANE: In St. Petersburg, Eric Deggans notes WFTS-ABC's simulcast of the "MNF" broadcast of Buccaneers-Panthers next Monday night "will pre-empt two major TV events: the finale of long-running drama Boston Legal and the December showing of the Peanuts cartoon, A Charlie Brown Christmas." "Charlie Brown" will air on the station Tuesday, December 16 at 8:00pm ET, while "Boston Legal" will air Sunday, December 14 at 4:00pm (TAMPABAY.com, 12/3).

CUTS ALREADY COMING: The GLOBE & MAIL's William Houston reported as part of the job cuts at Rogers, "five staffers, including reporter-anchor David Bastl, have lost their jobs" at Rogers SportsNet. The total number of firings at Rogers has been "estimated to be 100, but some sources pegged it at closer to 200" (GLOBEANDMAIL.com, 12/3).

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