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Volume 24 No. 156

Sports Media

     CTV President & CEO John Cassaday and NBA Commissioner David
Stern announced yesterday a broadcasting agreement that will
cover three full seasons and start with the NBA Finals this June.
Under the deal, which runs through the '98 season, CTV will
broadcast four regular season games in prime time, including the
Grizzlies and the Raptors' home openers and two head-to-head
matchups between the Canadian expansion teams.  In addition, CTV
will carry 15 Sunday afternoon games -- five Raptors, five
Grizzlies, and five other matchups.  Also included:  The NBA All-
Star Game, six playoff games and the NBA Finals (CTV).  CTV VP of
Sports Doug Beeforth described the deal as a "win-win revenue
sharing agreement," and Cassaday said that the actual dollar
value of the deal "will have to be determined somewhere down the
road" (Dan Stinson, VANCOUVER SUN, 5/11).  However, one industry
source said the league and CTV would earn $20M a season "if sales
go well," and $5M if they don't (Craig Daniels, TORONTO SUN,
5/11).  CTV will produce the games that originate from Canada.
For other games, CTV will pick up NBC's feed with a "Canadian
wraparound" including CTV-produced pre- and post-game shows
(Robert MacLeod, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 5/11).  Beeforth also said
that NBC games carried by Seattle's KING and seen in Vancouver
will not be blacked out (Howard Tsumura, Vancouer PROVINCE,
5/11).
     LOCAL DEAL:  The Grizzlies' local broadcast deal with BCTV
is expected to be announced soon.  The deal is expected to allow
BCTV to carry 25 Grizzlies games and 25 Canucks games (Robert
MacLeod, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 5/11).

     The Golf Channel has signed distribution agreements with
five new MSOs covering more than three million subscribers
nationwide.  The new Golf Channel carriers are Adelphia
Communications, Marcus Cable, TCA Group, Post-Newsweek Cable,
Cable America Inc. (The Golf Channel)....The SAN FRANCISCO
CHRONICLE reports that the ratings for the first three Giants
games on KTVU "were excellent."  Sunday's 6.3 rating topped the
5.4 average for all weekend day games from last year (S.F.
CHRONICLE, 5/11)....Bob Sales was replaced as Sports Editor at
the BOSTON HERALD yesterday.  His interim successor is Mark
Torpey, the assistant sports editor (Jack Craig, BOSTON GLOBE,
5/11)...Microsoft has announced the more than 40 different
offerings to be available on Microsoft Network (MSN), the
company's online service that will be available on the new
version of Windows software debuting in August, Windows 95.  In
addition to QVC and Home Shopping Network, MSN's partners include
New York Times Co.'s sports publications and Starwave, home of
ESPNET SportZone (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/11)....This weekend's
SITV examines the dilemma facing Cuban baseball players.  Cuban
3B Omar Linares tells of being offered $1.5M by the Yankees, but
choosing instead to stay with his family (SITV).

     "In what could be the most potent alliance yet between a
telephone company and a media firm," MCI Communications announced
Wednesday that it will invest up to $2B in Rupert Murdoch's News
Corp. to form a joint venture to deliver electronic information
services, according to Jube Shiver in this morning's L.A. TIMES.
The deal calls for a 50-50 joint venture company that will
distribute News Corp. TV shows, movies and published materials
via MCI's network -- "though it was not at all clear exactly how
this will work, since MCI's network does not extend all the way
to individual households -- at least not yet" (L.A. TIMES, 5/11).
The first venture between the two is likely to be an online
service for business drawing on Murdoch's "international news
gathering apparatus" (Schatz & Pessah, N.Y. NEWSDAY, 5/11).  In
addition, Delphi, News Corp.'s commercial online service, "is
expected to be folded into MCI's information services business"
(Steve Lohr, N.Y. TIMES, 5/11).
     FOOTBALL AS LEVERAGE:  Both MCI Chair Bert Roberts and
Murdoch said the alliance would provide the leverage necessary
for transmission deals with cable companies or regional bells.
Murdoch:  "We have a lot of bargaining strength and we have a lot
of money. ... (Bell Atlantic) is not going to be supplying
(programs) to people in Washington without the Redskins games"
(WASHINGTON POST, 5/11).
     REAX:  MCI's cash infusion "enables Murdoch to resume the
role of an aggressive buyer of media properties that he
relinquished after the company's 1990 liquidity crisis" (DAILY
VARIETY, 5/11).  News Corp. "is positioning itself for the day
when broadcasters can deliver digital television into people's
homes" (Cassandra Burrell, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 5/11).  MCI
Exec VP Tim Price:  "We just got  a big-time content provider"
(N.Y. TIMES, 5/11).  Roberts:  "Until now, no one has put
together the right building blocks -- programming, network
intelligence, distribution and merchandising -- to offer new
media services on a global scale" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 5/11).  The
"potentially powerful alliance of content and distribution could
well force other media and communication giants into similar
deals, lest they be left behind in multimedia wars" (Keller &
Landro, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/11).  "The deal marks one of the
most startling alliances yet in the communications industry"
(Andrews & Fabrikant, N.Y. TIMES, 5/11).

     CBS Chair & CEO Laurence Tisch "said that despite constant
rumors he is discussing a sale of CBS, the network isn't for
sale," according to Elizabeth Jensen of the WALL STREET JOURNAL.
Tisch made the comment to reporters immediately after CBS' annual
shareholders meeting.  Jensen notes, "Tisch's pronouncements have
caused skepticism before, however" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/11).
In comments to the L.A. TIMES, Tisch "drew a distinction between
outright sale of the network and a possible merger."  Dillon Reed
media analyst Ed Atarino:  "I think Wall Street has been too
quick to say Larry wants out.  I believe he does want to effect a
change in the structure of CBS.  But he may not want out -- he
may want help in the form of a partner" (Jane Hall, L.A. TIMES,
5/11).  Ted Turner and Barry Diller, among others, have been
mentioned as CBS suitors.