BASEBALL BEGINS TO COPE WITH TV HANGOVER
MLB's television committee, chaired by Phillies President
Bill Giles, met yesterday in Philadelphia to discuss finding a
new national television partner. Giles said they hope "to have a
new TV deal no later than November or December" and "to have a
consultant hired in the next several days." Giles said MLB has
"heard indirectly from CBS" and that they "like what Fox is
saying so far." Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig: "We're
shaping the direction we want to go. I think this is definitely
a positive for baseball" (Hal Bodley, USA TODAY, 6/28).
WHICH WAY DO WE GO? In this week's VARIETY, John Dempsey
writes that "there are two schools of thought about what happens"
now that ABC and NBC have walked. Dempsey: "The first whispered
scenario is that league owners already have a secretly negotiated
multiyear contract in their back pocket from either CBS or Fox.
... The second school of thought, as voiced by Hal Katz, chief
executive of Katz Marketing and Media, is that 'baseball is in a
terrible negotiating position'" (VARIETY, 6/26 issue).
FOX TROT: MLB's "path seems sure to end at Fox," according
to N.Y. NEWSDAY's Steve Zipay. Fox might consider a bid "as high
as $200 million a year," writes Zipay, and "some industry
insiders speculate that Fox would offer a Saturday afternoon Game
of the Week package -- starting with an hour-long pre-game show -
- in the first half of the season, then shift to prime time in
July and August." Other changes Fox could bring: "innovative
production"; telecasts of "all LCS games"; late afternoon weekday
World Series games; and, "promotional clout" (N.Y. NEWSDAY,
WHITHER THE SPONSORS: The Baseball Network's "break-up" has
"caused many to wonder if lame duck broadcasters ABC and NBC will
do right by advertisers, since they have no fiduciary
responsibility to the advertisers that cut unguaranteed deals,"
according to Jeff Jensen of AD AGE. Bill Croasdale, President of
Western Media International: "Advertisers will be watching
carefully to see if there's any falloff in promotion, but ABC and
NBC are honorable. They will live up to their obligations to
baseball and advertisers" (Jeff Jensen/Joe Mandese, AD AGE, 6/26
P.R. CAN BE AN UGLY BUSINESS: A number of columnists are
reporting that Dick Ebersol and Dennis Swanson gave USA TODAY's
Rudy Martzke an exclusive on the TBN story, in exchange for
Martzke's promise not to call MLB for a reaction (Mult., 6/27-
28). This morning, Phil Mushnick takes aim at Ebersol and
Martzke. Mushnick: "NBC, ABC and their newspaper delivery boy
can spin it any way they choose, but this was a case of
granstanding. ... Ebersol's the No. 1 apologist for any property
NBC is renting and the No. 1 critic of any property NBC loses or
loses out on. And, while others in the print media indulged his
obvious act, only his USA TODAY hand puppet hasn't yet wised up
and/or been turned off" (N.Y. POST, 6/28).