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Volume 24 No. 154

Sports Media

     In Boston, Paramount-owned WSBK (Channel 38) announced they
aren't "committed to more sub-Sox tuneups even though four remain
on the station's slate."  New station GM Stu Tauber said the
policy towards airing replacement games has not been decided:
"We'll have to talk with the Red Sox in the next few days."
Channel 38 is in the last season of a five-year, $79M deal with
the Red Sox, and "negotiations figure to be tough anyway" with
Paramount's UPN looking to extend its network programming beyond
just two nights over the next few years.  Another Paramount
station, KTXH in Houston, said that Paramount is "discouraging
its stations from carrying strikebreakers, citing meager interest
and a huge loss of advertising" (Jim Baker, BOSTON HERALD, 3/14).

     CBS will include its coverage of the NCAA tournament on
their sites on Prodigy and the World Wide Web.  The online
venture features a sweepstakes in which Prodigy and World Wide
Web users select the winning teams of all 63 tournament games,
with the winner receiving a grand prize of a trip for two to the
'96 Final Four.  The sweepstakes is sponsored by Doritos, the
first to sponsor a network promotion on the CBS "Eye On The Net"
site on the World Wide Web.  In addition to being a major
advertiser of the coverage, Doritos presents "Inside the Games
with Michael Jordan," a look at the great moments of the
tournament, to be broadcast between the two Final Four games on
Saturday, April 1.  Also, CBS announcers and analysts provide
analysis of the first round match-ups, and users have a chance to
go "behind-the-scenes" of the tournament from the CBS Sports
Virtual Press Room (CBS).
     SELECTION SHOW:  Ratings for CBS' extended coverage of the
NCAA Selection Show were down 29% from last year (7.5 to 5.3),
and industry insiders "suggested they were the lowest ever for a
selection show."  Meanwhile, ESPN's Selection Show which aired
opposite of CBS got a 3.4 rating, up 55% from last year.  In San
Francisco, C.W. Nevius writes on the CBS' hour-long show: "CBS
just tacked half an hour of fluff on at the beginning.  The
problem was, angry viewers thought they were merely stalling.  If
you tuned into ESPN, for example, you were given a specific
countdown to the start of the announcement" (SAN FRANCISCO
CHRONICLE, 3/15).

     WFLD-TV, the Fox-owned station in Chicago is planning a new
Sunday afternoon schedule as its lead-in to Fox's NHL coverage.
Instead of sitcoms, the station will now air "WWF Wrestling,"
"American Gladiators" and "Blade Warriors" as its lead-up to
hockey (ELECTRONIC MEDIA, 3/15).

     NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol defended the network's
decision not to mention the Wall Street Journal story on the late
Reggie Lewis, which suggested that Lewis' heart condition may
have been caused by cocaine abuse.  Ebersol says the article was
"absolutely wholly lacking in substantiation, unbelievably
unfair.  I'm totally embarrassed for them.  It was really wrong -
- disgraceful.  And you don't cavalierly throw it on the air,
saying, 'Here's a story someone wrote this week.'  Our power in
television is enormous.  We shouldn't abuse it."  Ebersol is
"incredulous, in part because he wonders how something could have
gone unnoticed by those who cover the NBA," a point N.Y. Post
columnist Peter Vecsey made on WFAN yesterday  (Michael Hiestand,
USA TODAY, 3/15).  See THE DAILY, 3/14.

     ESPN Inc. and TVA/Abril Group of Brazil have announced an
association to launch a new sports network, ESPN Brasil, a
locally-produced, 24-hour satellite sports channel to be
distributed through non-standard TV outlets in Brazil.  It is
scheduled to be launched June 15 and will be distributed
exclusively to TVA's more than 300,000 subscribers and 42
affiliated operators throughout Brazil.  ESPN Brasil will feature
extensive local productions, with emphasis on soccer competition
and extreme and youth sports (ESPN).

     Barry Diller, former Chair of QVC, is seeking financing for
a possible bid for CBS Inc., according to execs and investment
bankers familiar with the situation.  According to those sources,
Diller has had meetings with CBS Chair Laurence Tisch and
potential financial backers in New York over the past week.  The
sources also said that Disney Chair Michael Eisner, who had
tabled negotiations with Tisch after being unable to agree on a
price, has "not re-entered active negotiations."  The bankers
also "dismissed reports that Eisner and Diller might join forces
in an offer for CBS, noting that both men would want to control
the network."  Eisner worked for Diller at Paramount when Diller
was the studio head there (BLOOMBERG BUSINESS NEWS/SAN JOSE
MERCURY NEWS, 3/15).  The Disney-Diller speculation came from a
HOLLYWOOD REPORTER story that quoted unnamed sources as saying
Disney is talking with CBS about a possible acquisition, and that
thiose talks include Diller (REUTERS/ DAILY VARIETY, 3/15).  CBS
stock gained 3/4 to close at 67 3/4 on the speculation of Disney
and Diller acquiring the network (SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 3/15).
     TURNER/TIME WARNER:  The latest round of talks on Time
Warner selling back its 19.4% stake in Turner Broadcasting for
close to $1.5B ended yesterday without agreement, according to
this morning's WALL STREET JOURNAL.  But, "people on both sides
said they still hope to reach a deal."  If TBS can complete the
agreement with Time Warner, Ted Turner, with the backing of TCI,
is expected to make a bid for CBS in excess of $5B.  TCI, which
owns 20% of TBS, would provide financing for TBS' repurchase of
Time Warner's stake, effectively giving TCI close to 40% of
Turner equity (Shapiro & Lippman, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/15).

     Four TV networks will broadcast 84 games to be played by the
U.S. men's and women's national soccer teams through '97.  ABC
will show 10 games, ESPN 28, ESPN2 24, and the Prime Network 22.
Univision will broadcast at least 40 Spanish-language games.
Coverage of the games begins March 25 on ESPN with the U.S. men's
team playing Uruguay.  From June 6-18, five women's World Cup
games from Sweden will be broadcast on ESPN2 with the final
appearing on ESPN.  Each network entity has separate financial
arrangements with the U.S. Soccer Federation.  ABC has guaranteed
a rights fee of about $1M, with a possibility of sharing of
sponsorship revenues with the federation.  ESPN has a joint
venture relationship with USSF (N.Y. TIMES, 3/15).  ABC will
televise two men's games this June, U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Colombia
(DETROIT FREE PRESS, 3/15).  ABC will not run commercials during
the two non-stop 45-minute halves.  Ads will air during the pre-
game, half-time and post-game segments.  Sponsors will receive
additional exposure when their logos are superimposed on the
screen during the games, as done during ABC's World Cup coverage
(GOULD MEDIA).