ESPN AMONG A GROUP LOOKING TO SALVAGE CANADA'S TSN
The management of Canada's The Sports Network (TSN) "has
lined up partners" in Montreal, Vancouver and the U.S. in a bid
to keep control of the all-sports cable network when Labatt's
ownership ends, according to this morning's GLOBE & MAIL. Labatt
Communications -- TSN, its French counterpart Reseau des Sports,
Dome Productions, ad agency The Rep Shoppe, 80% of the Discovery
Channel, a minority share in PPV outlet Viewer's Choice, and a
35% interest in interactive programmer NTN Canada -- is expected
to go on the block if Belgian brewer, Interbew SA, succeeds in
buying John Labatt Ltd. A source close to ESPN says the U.S.
sports network is among those helping TSN management in its bid.
Others involved: Former Expos Owner Charles Bronfman and
Northwest Entertainment Group, owner of the Canucks, Grizzlies
and GM Place. Canadian interests are thought to control 70% of
the consortium. Grizzlies VP/Commun. Tom Mayenknecht, on behalf
of NEG: "All I can say is that we have been considering options
available to our group in terms of Canadian and international
broadcast properties and partnerships. It is certainly not off-
strategy for our group to be exploring such partnerships."
Labatt's broadcast assets are said to be worth between C$350-
500M. Other bidders: CanWest Global Communications, and Western
Int'l Communications, run by Frank Griffiths, brother of NEG's
Arthur Griffiths (Neil Campbell, GLOBE & MAIL, 6/12).
ANOTHER REGIONAL BID: The GLOBE & MAIL piece also notes
that NEG is exploring a bid to start a regional sports network
featuring Vancouver teams. While TSN "bitterly opposed" an
application filed by CTV last year with the CRTC (Canada's FCC)
to start a series of RSNs called S3, it is believed that TSN
management would "embrace" NEG's planned sports channel. CTV
will reapply for S3 this year, with NEG remaining in touch with
them should the TSN deal fall through (Neil Campbell, Toronto
GLOBE & MAIL, 6/12).