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Volume 24 No. 137

Sports Media

     In a development "certain to send shock waves" through men's
golf, Fox Broadcasting said that it plans to co-sponsor a new
golf tour in 1995.  PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem responded
quickly, saying he would attempt to bar PGA pros from joining.
According to leaked reports, Fox would co-sponsor the tour with
Executive Sports, an event management firm in Delray Beach, FL,
and would televise about eight tournaments.  There would be 30 to
40 players competing for total prize money in excess of $25M.
The '94 PGA Tour encompassed 50 events with prize money of $82M.
Fox Sports spokesperson Vince Wladika told AP that Executive
Sports approached Fox with the golf proposal.  Greg Norman, "who
has sought a world tour for golf's top players for a long time,"
has met with Executive Sports officials about the idea.  Norman,
who will host his Franklin Funds Shark Shootout beginning this
Friday, reportedly will call a players meeting today about the
new tour.  Yesterday, Finchem released a statement about the new
Fox tour, "even though there has been no official announcement
about the tour's creation" (Thomas Bonk, L.A. TIMES, 11/16).
     FINCHEM REAX:  In his statement, Finchem said the PGA Tour
supports more int'l competition, but only if such projects meet
certain rules:  "They must benefit golf, have the support of all
golf organizations and be structured to help existing tours."
Finchem went on to state that the proposed Fox/Executive Sports
Tour, "fails to meet any of these three criteria."  More from
Finchem's statement:  "This proposal would have a negative impact
on existing events.  It would result in fewer playing
opportunities for the great majority of our members and an
inevitable reduction in the $24.7 million raised for charity in
the communities where our tournaments were played this year" (PGA
Tour).  Finchem also warned that if the events are staged, the
PGA Tour will fulfill its long-term agreements with TV nets,
title sponsors and tournaments by "enforcing our television
release and conflicting event regulations."  The PGA Tour does
not allow its members to play in events that occur simultaneously
at the same time as Tour events (Thomas Bonk, L.A. TIMES, 11/16).
     PLAYER REAX:  Golfer Peter Jacobsen "said there isn't much
excitement for the tour because it could wreck the current
structure of the PGA Tour": "It could make more money for the
players.  But we need to learn from other sports.  Greed has
ruined baseball and hockey, and its well on its way to ruining
basketball" (USA TODAY, 11/16).

     Liberty Sports, the sports programming arm of TCI's Liberty
Media, is changing the names of its owned and operated regional
sports network to Prime Sports.  The name change is part of
Liberty Sports' bid to unify its regional networks.  Liberty owns
and operates nine regionals:  Home Sports Entertainment (TX), KBL
(Pittsburgh), Prime Sports Network-Intermountain West, Prime
Sports Network-Midwest, Prime Sports Network-Rocky Mountain,
Prime Sports Network-Upper Midwest, Prime Sports Northwest, Prime
Ticket and Sunshine Network (FL).  Liberty also owns interest in
other regional sports networks:  Home Team Sports (Mid-Atlantic),
SportsChannel Pacific, SportsChannel Philadelphia, SportsChannel
Chicago and SportSouth.  Liberty Sports President Ed Frazier:
"We feel a move toward more consistent programming throughout the
regions will provide today's mobile society the ability to find
their favorite show at the same time every day, no matter the
time zone" (Liberty Sports).
     WHAT IT MEANS:  In an interview yesterday with THE SPORTS
BUSINESS DAILY, Home Sports Entertainment GM John Heitke talked
about the changes:  "We're trying to become more viewer friendly,
and one of steps in doing that is to develop some continuity
across the nation with a common branding identity and I think
Prime Sports allows us to take a real good first step in that
direction."  Asked if the change is a sign that Liberty Sports
wants to compete with ESPN on a national level:  "I don't think
it's a direct competition to what ESPN does.  They are a national
network and do the things that they do very well.  We have built
our strengths over the years on being able to bring in the
regional and home town team audiences.  What this signifies is
the first step in trying to create a more simplistic approach to
our networks, not only to our viewers across the country but to
advertisers as well" (THE DAILY).
     NATIONAL AD SALES:  Liberty also has decided to create its
own national sales service in-house, replacing Group W Sports
Marketing which had previously sold the national spot time for
the regional networks.  National ad sales offices will be located
in New York, Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, Los
Angeles and San Francisco (Liberty).  Heitke explained the
benefits of this change: "If I'm a media buyer in New York City,
... and I'm buying baseball, I'm getting the Marlins in Florida,
the Rangers in Texas, the Angels in California, the Pirates in
Pittsburgh."  Previously, a media buyer would have to deal with
each regional network separately (THE DAILY).
     PROGRAMMING:  Programming will be restructured to create
uniformity throughout the regionals, while maintaining their
regional identities.  Prime Sports programs will be aired so as
to be seen during the same time slots across the four continental
U.S. time zones.  Liberty plans more emphasis on women's and
children's sports programming.  Another significant change will
be the national roll-out of a sports news show, "Press Box."  The
show will include national sports news, with a portion of each
telecast dedicated to highlighting regional sports and teams.
Production of "Press Box" will occur eight times a day, so that
the show will be seen live at 6:30pm and 10:30pm in each time
zone (Liberty).

     Tribune Co. and two black entertainment-industry
businessmen, Quincy Jones and former NFL great Willie Davis, "are
expected today to announce a partnership to acquire" U.S. TV
stations.  Tribune is expected to invest several hundred million
dollars in stations around the country, while being the minority
shareholder in the venture.  The group is expected to take
advantage of federal regulations, "which grant tax advantages to
minority-controlled partnerships that buy stations" (WALL STREET
JOURNAL, 11/16).  The creation of the Jones-Tribune group "is the
latest in a string of repercussions from Fox Television's
unexpected move earlier this year to snatch away eight station
affiliates from rival CBS."  Other partners in the venture are
said to include Geraldo Rivera and "Soul Train" producer Don
Cornelius.  One of the first stations the group is said to be
purchasing is WATL in Atlanta, currently a Fox O&O.  WATL would
likely become an affiliate of Time Warner's planned WB Network
(Lippman & Hall, L.A. TIMES, 11/16).