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Time Warner Cable Senior VP & Deputy General Counsel Jeffrey Zimmerman on Tuesday in a letter to San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith “emphasized repeatedly there was no link between its new, longterm deals to broadcast Dodgers and Lakers games in Los Angeles and its inability to come to terms” with FS San Diego over Padres games, according to Matthew Hall of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. Zimmerman in the letter wrote, "Time Warner Cable remains willing to negotiate with Fox for the rights to put the San Diego Padres on our lineup; in fact, we have made a number of proposals designed to reach an agreement. Unfortunately, Fox decided to declare an impasse early on in the negotiations, and has refused to budge since then.” TWC and FS San Diego reps today will “discuss their stalled negotiations over showing Padres games on television.” Instead of “talking to each other, though, they'll be talking to a group of San Diego's politicians, some of whom are trying to end a yearlong impasse before the team's new season begins on April 1.” The meeting was set to begin at 9:00am PT. A FS San Diego spokesperson yesterday said, "Time Warner Cable has been offered the fair-market terms that the four other major providers in San Diego have agreed to. Anything else is an excuse for not paying fair value for Padres games” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 3/14).
Outdoor Channel Holdings yesterday announced that it has "accepted Kroenke Sports & Entertainment's unsolicited buyout offer of $8.75 per share, which values" the net at about $227M, according to Andy Vuong of the DENVER POST. Temecula, Calif.-based Outdoor is "leaving previous merger partner InterMedia Outdoor Holdings and its $8-a-share offer at the altar, a deal that had been expected to close this quarter until KSE launched its bid." The deal is "expected to close in the second quarter." Outdoor "paid InterMedia, operator of the Sportsman Channel, a break-up fee of $6.5 million and has agreed to a $1 million fee if it terminates the KSE transaction." Denver-based KSE's cable network assets "include Altitude Sports & Entertainment and World Fishing Network." The Outdoor Channel "reaches nearly 40 million potentially pay-TV subscribers" (DENVER POST, 3/14). In N.Y., Michael De La Merced reported Outdoor Channel was "advised by Lazard and the law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati." KSE was "advised by Allen & Company and the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz" (NYTIMES.com, 3/13).
Michael Waltrip Racing has "created a new track-based, social media platform that is sure to cause a buzz in the stock-car community," according to Godwin Kelly of the Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL. A team of "digitally savvy models will roam the garage, infield, sponsor midway and hospitality areas to interact with NASCAR fans." One of the models "is Miss Florida Latina, speaks fluent Spanish and will lead MWR’s effort to take the MWR/NASCAR experience to the Latino audience." Team owner Michael Waltrip said, “We wanted to create some buzz around our teams and partners. These young ladies are not only attractive, but exceptionally smart and will give fans a taste of what goes on at the track away from just the competition.” He added that over the last month MWR has "interviewed almost 20 models." Waltrip: "We can’t sit still and expect our sport to grow, so we are trying to be creative and innovative. We think this will be fun and something the fans will enjoy" (NEWS-JOURNALONLINE.com, 3/12).
Former NCAA Senior VP/Basketball & Business Strategies Greg Shaheen will be a guest analyst this weekend on ESPN’s college basketball coverage, providing insight into the NCAA’s selection committee process. Shaheen said he was contacted about a month ago by ESPN Senior VP/College Sports Programming Burke Magnus. He wanted Shaheen to share with viewers what it will be like inside the selection committee room as the weekend unfolds, leading up to Selection Sunday. Shaheen said, “Anytime you can provide insight rather than speculation, that makes it a better experience for the viewer.” Shaheen championed the notion of making the selection process more transparent during his 12 years ('00-12) at the NCAA. Starting in '07, the NCAA invited media to take part in a mock selection, which has become an annual event. Magnus and former ESPN Exec VP/College Sports Programming Chuck Gerber were two members of the mock selection committee that first year. Shaheen said he does not expect this to be the start of a new career. “Nobody needs to be worried about their job,” he said with a laugh. “I’m just looking forward to having fun with it.” Since leaving the NCAA last year, Shaheen has started a consulting business called OSM Advisors, based from his home in Fishers, Ind., just outside of Indianapolis. OSM is short for “One Shining Moment.” Among his clients is the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, where former NCAA Assistant to the Associate Dir Jacqie Carpenter is commissioner (Michael Smith, Staff Writer).
INSIGHT INTO THE PROCESS: Shaheen said, "When I was approached about this, I did pause for a minute. The more I thought about it, the more I thought of the opportunity to continue giving insight of the process, the dynamics of the room and I hope this elicits discussion and explain what they are doing as part of the process. It won’t have to do as much with the debate of specific teams." ESPN Senior VP & Exec Producer Mark Gross said of Shaheen, "He has seen so much and he can give us a sense of context, a sense of the time and space of the moment. We will use Greg all around on our shows, games and halftimes. As we get closer to the selection show, there will be a short window for the fans where they will hear explanations they haven’t before” (AP, 3/12).
ESPN formally introduced Ray Lewis as its newest NFL analyst, but before the net hired the future HOFer, it considered his "link to a high-profile double slaying in 2000," according to Michael Hiestand of USA TODAY. ESPN NFL Senior Coordinating Producer Seth Markman said, "When you hire somebody, you vet their background. We feel the situation was fully addressed by legal authorities at the time." He added, "It was a long time ago. This is a different guy." Markman said that ESPN "began recruiting Lewis before last season." Markman: "He wanted a big role. And it was important for him to meet with all the networks and hear their visions. The advantage for us was our flexibility, given how important it was for him to be with his children." Hiestand notes Lewis "won't be at ESPN headquarters for every Sunday pregame show during the regular season." Markman said, "I promised him I'll never schedule anything that conflicts with his son's games" (USA TODAY, 3/14). In Baltimore, Aaron Wilson noted Lewis will "travel to the site" of every MNF game. He also will appear "weekly on ESPN Radio's 'Mike and Mike' program and host specials similar to the ones Jon Gruden does with quarterbacks" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 3/13). Lewis said of why he got into broadcasting, “I’ve been doing TV my whole life. Honestly, I’ve been watching TV my whole life and I've been imitating people my whole life and I just think it’s a great opportunity for me.” He added that while playing football, fans only “see one kind of personality." Lewis: "Coming to this side kind of shows a totally different personality for me and I really look forward to the opportunity” (“NFL32,” ESPN2, 3/13).
GETTING DROPPED IN THE DEEP END: Lewis made the rounds at ESPN yesterday, appearing on several different programs, and he was repeatedly asked about the Ravens' offseason moves. He said, “I see all of my former teammates signing huge deals, going here, going there, and I’m just so happy for them.” He noted Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome has does a "great job in what he does." Lewis: "At the same time, I believe he has his work cut out for him. But I think he’s up for the challenge” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 3/13). Lewis said the loss of the players by the Ravens is “more surprising because of the way it was done,” especially the way WR Anquan Boldin was traded to the 49ers. The Ravens reportedly did not call Boldin to tell him he had been traded, and Lewis said, “I know the business side takes care of itself and that’s one thing. But with all of the moves that’s being made, to do it that way...” Lewis said the franchise did a similar player turnover prior to the '01 season after winning the Super Bowl, and it "took us years as an organization to recover from that” (“NFL Live,” ESPN, 3/13).
In Philadelphia, Jonathan Tannenwald reported U.S. women’s national soccer team D Heather Mitts “announced that her playing career is over,” and she will be “joining the Philadelphia Union's television team.” Mitts will be “a sideline reporter and analyst" during the MLS club's "local television broadcasts.” Her debut will “come Saturday, when the Union host the New England Revolution at PPL Park.” Mitts formerly has served “as a studio analyst for ESPN and ABC's broadcasts of the 2003 Women's World Cup.” Mitts said she also will be an "ambassador for the Philadelphia Union while taking part in other soccer related projects" (PHILLY.com, 3/13).
NO REGRETS: USA TODAY’s Michael Hiestand notes it “isn’t easy” for announcer Gus Johnson “to watch the NCAA tournament.” Johnson said, “It’s emotional. It was a big part of my life for 15 years. The NCAA tournament made me. … Yes, it’s emotional. Yes, I miss it. Yes, I’d like to be part of it.” But he adds, “This is a business. And I’m glad I’m at Fox.” Hiestand notes Johnson has “a possible star turn coming in soccer: Fox inherits World Cup action from ESPN starting with the women’s event in 2015 and men’s play in 2018.” Fox Sports VP/Communications Dan Bell said that World Cup on-air assignments “aren’t set.” But, “don’t expect Johnson, who calls Fox college football, to be a bundle of catchphrases on soccer.” Johnson said, “This has everything to do with me learning the game. I don’t want to get into the habit of manufacturing something that’s not there” (USA TODAY, 3/13).
PEACEFUL, EASY FEELING: In Chicago, Chris De Luca noted White Sox announcers Ken “Hawk” Harrelson and Steve Stone “have become synonymous with Chicago baseball since the 1980s,” but there was “something wrong when the two shared the White Sox’ TV booth last season.” Harrelson last week said, “There was some tension. It happens.” Stone said, “I believe everything has been resolved. I think this year is going to be much better broadcasts than it has been.” He added, “I think the fans are going to be pleasantly surprised with the growth of our partnership and what both of us are going to bring to the table this year.” De Luca noted some have “speculated Hawk’s homerism grates on Stone, but Stone denied it.” Stone: “There are people who view that as a negative; I view it as an extreme positive. I like the fact that he wants the White Sox to win every day” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 3/13).
DEAD AIR: In Tampa, Eric Deggans reported Tampa Bay Times sports columnist Gary Shelton “has left sports talk radio station WHFS-FM, fired after completing” yesterday's show. The station has “endured upheavals as original program director Mike Pepper was reassigned and then left the company.” By the beginning of February, the station was “airing national broadcaster Jim Rome at noon and had rolled back its concept of around the clock live and local sports talk” (TAMPABAY.com, 3/13).