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Volume 24 No. 112

Sports Media

     The BBC is planning to launch its 24-hour satellite news
service, BBC World, in the U.S. in February.  Former CNN
President Reese Schonfeld's International News Network is a
partner with the BBC in the new venture.  BBC World would include
international sports news in its 24-hour "news wheel" (Mult.,
12/21)....AT&T is ready to join the on-line services market with
its apparent victory in the battle to purchase Ziff
Communications Co.'s Interchange Online Network....Fox
Broadcasting has solicited the opinions of several former FCC
officials "to help convince the FCC that it complied with rules
limiting foreign ownership of TV stations to 25%" (WALL STREET
JOURNAL, 12/21)....WASHINGTON POST TV critic Tom Shales gives
Direct Broadcast Satellite a a glowing review:  "Clearly, this is
the greatest new toy since the VCR, with pictures so sharp and
rich that it's as if a veil were lifted from in front of the
screen.  Cable cannot compare.  We keep hearing about the '500-
channel universe' just around the corner, but it looks like an
enormous corner.  The 150-channel universe is here now, and it's
a hoot" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/21).

     TCI, Inc. and Time Warner are discussing a joint venture to
"launch a group of cable sports networks," according to this
morning's WALL STREET JOURNAL.  Sources close to both companies
said the deal would include five new sports cable channels,
including one with Time Warner's Sports Illustrated magazine, a
women's sports channel, and other channels that would air local
sports news.  The channels would "be bundled in a so-called tier
and would not be part of basic cable TV service."  TCI and Time
Warner control 18M of the nation's 60M cable homes, and both
companies stand to gain from a partnership.  Time Warner does not
have a large sports programming center, and TCI "could use Time
Warner's subscribers and its Sports Illustrated franchise to help
boost its own sports presence on a national level."  TCI's
Liberty Media already has a wide array of regional sports
ventures, and owns or has an interest in 14 regional sports
networks, most of which "would not be included in any deal with
Time Warner."  Liberty may also invest in the Classic Sports
Network that is set to start next year.  Classic Sports is backed
by New York investment bank, Allen & Co., and AT&T, and could be
"folded into a joint venture with Time Warner."  Finally, a TCI-
Time Warner partnership would allow the companies to share the
risks in launching a sports network in a crowded field, dominated
by ABC/Capital Cities' ESPN and ESPN2 (John Lippman, WALL STREET
JOURNAL, 12/21).