SBD/Issue 244/Sports Media

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  • Nats Remove Dibble From MASN Team After Strasburg Comments

    Nationals Reportedly Made Call To Remove
    Dibble From MASN, Not The Network

    The Nationals yesterday announced that they have removed MASN analyst Rob Dibble "from their broadcast team," according to J. Freedom duLac of the WASHINGTON POST. Dibble has been "absent from the broadcast booth since Aug. 25, after controversy erupted over comments he'd made on his daily Sirius XM radio show" about Nationals P Stephen Strasburg. Dibble has been a "polarizing presence on Nationals telecasts since his arrival last season," and the Strasburg comments became his "walk-off riff." Nationals execs -- apparently "furious about the remarks -- eventually decided to dump him with a year and a month left on his three-year contract." Sources indicated that while Nationals TV broadcasters are employees of MASN, the team "makes the hiring and firing decisions." DuLac notes during his nearly two seasons in the booth, Dibble was a "lightning rod, stirring up the fan base with the style and substance of his analysis." Favored words included "we," "us," "our," and "smack 'em yack 'em," his signature home run call (WASHINGTON POST, 9/2). There is "no word on a permanent replacement for MASN, but Ray Knight will serve as the analyst at least through the end of the Nationals' current road trip," which continues through the weekend. Knight "may finish the season out, but the Nationals may also try out new analysts in the season's final month" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 9/1).

    PARTING SHOTS: Dibble this morning on his Sirius XM Radio show said, "As you may know, I made some statements last week about Stephen Strasburg, and have been called controversial and angered many. In my role as analyst for the Nationals, and (with) the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, I now realize that my comments were inappropriate and disrespectful. I have regret that my time with the team will have to end this way, but have learned from the mistake and look forward to putting it behind me" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 9/2). Comcast SportsNet's Ivan Carter last night said, "I'm kind of torn on this. I like the guy as an announcer. His job is to say what he says. He didn't say it (the Strasburg comments) in his role for that network." But the Washington Post's Gene Wang said, "You really have to be thoughtful with your comments, especially in a sensitive situation like Strasburg. To throw that out there, it's just unprofessional and irresponsible, and you have got to know there will be some consequences for it" ("Washington Post Live," Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, 9/1).

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  • Cards Move MLB Radio Broadcasts Back To KMOX-AM From Rival KTRS

    Cardinals Open To Selling Stake In KTRS Now
    That Games Will Return To Longtime Home KMOX

    MLB Cardinals officials yesterday announced that the club's radio broadcasts will return to KMOX-AM next season after five years with KTRS-AM, according to Dan Caesar of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Sources indicated that the deal to return to KMOX is for five years and is "believed to include a small rights fee, in comparison to the $4.7 million annually the station had offered in 2005." The club will also now have rights to sell their own advertising on KMOX. Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III said "fans' sentiments and feedback" were factors in the decision. He noted other items that "came into play included financial considerations and cross-promotion opportunities with CBS radio's other local stations." Caesar notes the team "rocked much of its fan base in 2005 by leaving its home of 51 seasons in favor of KTRS by purchasing a 50 percent -- and controlling -- interest in KTRS." That move was "met with discontent from Cardinals fans outside the reach of the team's radio network who were denied free access to the broadcasts they had been receiving on KMOX." While KMOX has "fallen from No. 1 in the market, KTRS never was a challenger with the Cardinals." DeWitt said that the Cardinals are "open to selling their share of KTRS, which they bought for the bargain-basement price" of $2M. DeWitt: "We still own half and intend to be good stewards and good partners with the other owners. If there are offers from them to buy us out, we'd look at that." Mike Shannon and John Rooney are "expected to remain the radio broadcast team" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 9/2).

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  • "Hard Knocks" Focuses On Jets' Economics, Revis' Possible Return

    Coles (r) Told He Was Being Cut In Order To
    Free Up Money In Case Darrelle Revis Returns

    The Jets revealed "their economics" on last night's episode of HBO's Hard Knocks," according to Jenny Vrentas of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. The Jets made their "first round of cuts, and put expensive veteran reserves on the chopping block" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 9/2). Jets coach Rex Ryan during last night's episode, the fourth of the season, said that "part of the reason why” the team released WR Laveranues Coles was because it "needed available money for a possible” return of CB Darrelle Revis, who is holding out for a new contract. Ryan said to Coles, “We do some things financially with our team. One of them is the Revis deal. We have to have money in place in case he shows up without a new contract” (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 9/1). Last night's episode again featured Jets brass discussing the Revis situation, including rumors that the sides were close to a new deal. Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum said, "It's the most bizarre thing. This guy, Tim Cowlishaw from ESPN, wrote it. Let's put it this way: I hope he's right. I'd just like to know what the deal looks like." He added, "We'll be, apparently, the last to know" ("Hard Knocks," HBO, 9/1). On Long Island, Marcus Henry notes the Revis holdout "took six minutes of the show as Jets executives talked extensively about” Cowlishaw’s claim last week that “a deal was imminent.” Tannenbaum: “If (Cowlishaw) is right, we’ll be the last to know.” Meanwhile, Henry notes “the profanity was held to a minimum early on" last night, but things “picked up midway though the show.” The “F” word was used “a total of 20 times, not including the times it was uttered by players on the field of play” (NEWSDAY, 9/2). ESPN.com’s Tim Graham wrote Ryan is “the face of the New York Jets and the star” of “Hard Knocks.” The coach during last night's episode "scolds his team for a growing lack of professionalism and a dearth of demonstrable leadership" (ESPN.com, 9/1).

    KNOCKIN' ON HEAVEN'S DOOR: MEDIAPOST's David Goetzl reported this season of "Hard Knocks" prior to last night's episode had "averaged 43% more viewers than a year ago," when the HBO series featured the Bengals. HBO averaged 845,000 viewers through three shows, compared to 592,000 in '09. "Hard Knocks" is averaging 663,000 viewers in the 18-49 demo, 47% better than last summer. Goetzl notes the "increased interest this year could be attributed to as many factors as the number of f-bombs Coach Ryan dropped in the premiere (at least 8)." The focus on a team in the "large New York market is a plus" as well (MEDIAPOST.com, 9/1).

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  • SNY Seeks More Carriage In Connecticut With New UConn Deals

    SNY Using Increased Coverage Of UConn
    Sports To Look For Better Carriage

    The desire for making SportsNet N.Y. "available on Cox and Charter is growing" now that SNY has "struck a deal to cover many UConn football games and men’s basketball games,” according to Dom Amore of the HARTFORD COURANT. SNY VP/Communications Andrew Fegyveresi confirmed that discussions are ongoing with Cox and Charter -- the "two Connecticut cable TV providers that don't offer the channel" in the eastern and central parts of the state. SNY and Connecticut cable execs met yesterday, and a source indicated that "there is hope an agreement can be reached early next week." Charter Communications has "about 30,000 subscribers in the Windham area, including the UConn campus," while Cox has "about 150,000 subscribers in its Manchester, Meriden and Enfield systems who do not get SNY." Network officials announced Tuesday that “Comcast plans to expand coverage of SNY by Friday in the Middletown, Clinton, Groton, Norwich, Old Lyme and Vernon areas, which would make it available to all of its state customers.” Comcast VP/PR & Community Investment Kristen Roberts said that SNY is "part of the standard cable package on Comcast in most of the areas it services.” SNY also is available in Connecticut on Cablevision, Metrocast and Charter-Western (HARTFORD COURANT, 9/2).

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  • Media Notes

    Fox Sports Interactive Media yesterday announced that it has inked sportswriter Jason Whitlock to an exclusive multiyear contract extension in which it will expand Whitlock's presence on FoxSports.com and its related platforms. Whitlock, who recently left the K.C. Star, had been a weekly contributor to FoxSports.com but now writes two columns a week for the site. Plans are in the works for him to be featured in the site's "Lunch With Benefits" programming block (Fox Sports Interactive Media).

    A SIGHT FOR SORE EYES: In Toronto, Ryan Wolstat reports TSN and TSN2 will carry 47 regular-season Raptors games in '10-11, "with the remaining 35 going to Sportsnet or Sportsnet One." The CBC is "out of the picture this year, having lost interest in hoops." SportsNet One's schedule of games "does not commence until Dec. 28, so there is a chance it will be available everywhere before any games are missed, but judging by last year’s glacial negotiating pace, that is no certainty." The team's radio broadcasts again will be on The Fan 590-AM (TORONTO SUN, 9/2).

    SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT: PRO FOOTBALL TALK’s Mike Florio will appear on NBC’s halftime coverage of all eight of the net's Univ. of Notre Dame football telecasts. He also will appear on the net’s “Sunday Night Football” postgame show beginning with the Sept. 12 Cowboys-Redskins game. Florio and NBC’s Rodney Harrison will be “taping a web-only feature during the ‘Sunday Night Football’ game,” and Florio also will participate in the “SNF Extra” live chat (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 9/1).

    First Segment Of "Off The Field" On CSN
    New England Will Feature Pats' Moss

    RIVALRY BREWING IN BEANTOWN: In Boston, Jessica Heslam reports Comcast SportsNet New England and New England Cable News, both Comcast-owned stations, will premiere a new season of the lifestyle show, "styleboston," on Sept. 11. CSN New England's edition will feature a segment, "Off the Field," featuring "athletes, coaches and others when they’re not in the game." The first "Off the Field" segment features Patriots WR Randy Moss and host Linda Holliday, the girlfriend of Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Heslam notes the new programming "comes as rival" NESN debuts its new "Made in New England" lifestyle programming (BOSTON HERALD, 9/2).

    ROOT FOR THE HOME TEAM: In Boston, Dan Shaughnessy writes the city's WBZ-CBS has "officially sold its news soul" to the Patriots and "morphed into a 24/7 Patriot infomercial for Bob Kraft enterprises." Kraft for last week's preseason game against the Rams "insisted that the 'talent' wear red shirts with Patriot logos." This was done in the "interest of promoting the Patriot 'brand.'" Shaughnessy: "It’s one thing to insist that broadcasters spread the gospel of the team, but when you make them wear team garb, you’re telling the world that the station is in the bag" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/2).

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