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Volume 24 No. 113

Sports Media

     "Hot on the toe loops" of CBS' "Ice Wars" competition is
NBC's "Gold Championship," a two-hour, live individual event this
Saturday night from Edmonton.  The event offers $1M in prize
money.  NBC has "not cranked up the publicity machine" but the
prime-time slot, prize money and top competitors indicate that
figure skating is "sought-after entertainment that can survive
and thrive."  Nancy Kerrigan is the only "Ice Wars" competitor
who will not appear on the NBC show in some capacity.  Paul Wylie
and Kurt Browning will serve as analysts, and CBS analyst Scott
Hamilton will trade the booth for blades.  In New York, Richard
Sandomir notes that NBC's re-run of last December's DuraSoft
Colors World Professional Championships on Saturday received a
4.2 and CBS' Oksana Baiul TV movie got a 4.8.  CBS will "keep the
Zamboni rolling" with six events starting on Thanksgiving (N.Y.
TIMES, 11/15).

     "It may be posturing," but Fox has said that HBO and NBC
will retain Wimbledon rights.  The rights will probably be
awarded Friday, and Fox TV Chair says "it's difficult" to bid
against the incumbent network because the bid has to exceed by
20% to win (Richard Sandomir, N.Y. TIMES, 11/15).

     Liberty Sports, parent company of Home Sports Entertainment
(HSE), will hold a news conference to announce several changes
within its regional sports networks today in New York.  The
changes will affect HSE's identity and programming (HSE)....NCAA
basketball begins on Canada's The Sports Network in December with
five men's games (TSN).... ACOG President and CEO Billy Payne
says the committee is at 83% of its $910M goal for worldwide TV
rights:  "We're confident we'll reach it" (Rudy Martzke, USA
TODAY, 11/15). ....BSkyB will price an Initial Public Offering
(IPO) at around $3.73 per share.  The IPO will cut News Corp.'s
stake in the satellite-TV network from 50% to 40% (WALL STREET
JOURNAL, 11/15)....Time Warner and US West have purchased stakes
in Japan's Chofu Cable TV unit.  Time Warner purchased 15.4%,
Time Warner Entertainment Japan 9.9% and US West 17.9% (WALL
STREET JOURNAL, 11/15)....Fox received its highest game rating of
the season with a 19.0 for the 49ers-Cowboys, significant because
neither Los Angeles nor New York aired the game (N.Y. TIMES,
11/15)....Baltimore CFL fans might not be able to watch their
team in the Eastern division final this weekend.  Exclusive U.S.
CFL-carrier ESPN2 will air the Western championship to "try to
build an audience" for the November 27 Grey Cup and showcase
"proven CFL ratings grabber" Doug Flutie.  Local telecast rights
are not likely to be bought because stations would have to pass
up more "lucrative" NFL games (Baltimore SUN, 11/15).

     Cable giant TCI "is considering taking one of its operating
divisions public when its board meets Wednesday," according to
this morning's USA TODAY.  TCI is reported to be considering a
spinoff of one of its three divisions that does not include TCI's
domestic cable franchises.  The possibilities include domestic
programming, such as TCI stakes in Turner Broadcasting, Home
Shopping Network, and The Sega Channel.  International operations
and technology ventures are also possible spinoffs.  TCI hopes
such a move would "force Wall Street investors to acknowledge the
company's stock is undervalued."  TCI stock closed yesterday at
23 1/8, up 3/8 (David Lieberman, USA TODAY, 11/15).

     Viacom Inc.'s earnings reflect a "seven-fold rise" in
earnings per share for the third quarter.  The results include
contributions for the first time from recently acquired Paramount
Communications, but do not yet include earnings from the merger
with Blockbuster Entertainment or the sale of Madison Square
Garden.  Viacom President Frank Biondi said Blockbuster earnings
seem "tremendously promising."  Blockbuster sales were up 42% by
September.  Viacom's net earnings increased to $327.3M from
$30.9M, while sales were up $2.1B.  Cable profits fell 33% from
last year (Tony Jackson, FINANCIAL TIMES, 11/15).  "The results
were driven by the strong performance" of MTV and Paramount movie
hits.  However, analysts are getting "impatient" for Viacom to
complete the sale of its cable TV systems to InterMedia Partners
and Madison Square Garden to the ITT/ Cablevision partnership.
Viacom shares closed at $39.75, up $.87 1/2 (Eben Shapiro, WALL
STREET JOURNAL, 11/15).
      VIACOM TECHNOLOGY:  Simon & Schuster, Viacom's publishing
division, plans to announce an all-electronic publishing imprint
named Macmillan Digital USA.  The new imprint will produce and
distribute reference, travel and computer books in electronic
format, including CD-ROMs, materials for on-line services and the
Internet.  Topics will include sports ( WALL STREET JOURNAL,
11/15).