The MLB Television Committee announced yesterday the hiring
of Barry Frank, Senior Group VP of Trans World International, as
"consultant and negotiator" for its new TV contract. Frank has
previously served as TV consultant to numerous Olympics
organizing committees, the NBA, the NFL, U.S. Open tennis, the
America's Cup, and the Orange Bowl, among others. Phillies
President Bill Giles, Chair of the TV Committee, said Frank "is
recognized as the premier sports properties negotiator" (MLB).
Giles said that Frank was told to get a deal that has all
postseason games televised, with acting Commissioner Bud Selig
restating that playoff games will not be on cable (AP/BOSTON
THE LETTER: Reaction continued concerning a letter sent
from ABC to Fox, Turner and MLB reminding all of ABC's and NBC's
exclusive negotiating period with baseball, which expires in
January. ABC Sports spokesperson Mark Mandel said they did not
want the letter released, and sources at the networks claim the
letter was leaked from Turner Sports (Mike Bruton, PHILADELPHIA
INQUIRER, 7/14). Mandel: "We're surprised Turner is showing
people the letter." In Minneapolis, Rachel Blount sees the
letter as a "signal that [ABC] might not be ready to give up the
sport" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/14). In Boston, Jim Baker
writes that the letter "is meant to tie Barry Franks's hands"
(BOSTON HERALD, 7/14). In Baltimore, Milton Kent writes, "The
letter opens questions whether ABC is merely playing hardball
with baseball and the other networks or if it is truly interested
in getting back into baseball and is perhaps buying itself more
time while owners and players thrash out a labor agreement"
(Baltimore SUN, 7/14).
MEANWHILE, BACK AT TBN ... This weekend marks the beginning
of The Baseball Network's "Baseball Night in America" coverage.
In New York, Steve Zipay notes that the low rating for the All-
Star Game (13.9) "won't mean a crisis for The Baseball Network.
It can simply add some make-good spots during the regular-season
games. But it sends a signal to advertisers that postseason
ratings likely will follow suit" (N.Y. NEWSDAY, 7/14). Michael
Hiestand notes, "From the corporate Big Guy view, ABC and NBC
don't have much incentive to push TBN. They won't have to sell
1996 ad time off this year's ratings." But in the production
rooms, it "makes no difference," according to TBN Coordinating
Producer John Filippelli (USA TODAY, 7/14).
Cap Cities/ABC, GE's NBC and News Corp.'s Fox are all
expected to post second quarter gains, with one analyst
predicting that NBC is on their way to a "blockbuster year."
Smith Barney's John Reidy: "Overall, broadcasting is looking
strong. CBS's results misstate what's going on in the industry"
(WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/14)....Ratings for the season premiere of
Arena Football on ESPN may be 21.2% higher than last year, but
the league did not break the 1.0 barrier. The AFL's July 1 debut
drew a rating of 0.8, up from 0.66 in '94 (AFL)....In Houston,
Carlton Thompson notes Pam Oliver's move from ESPN Houston bureau
chief to join Fox's NFL coverage. Oliver: "ESPN was a great
experience for me. They allowed me to carve out a niche for
myself in the NFL and the NBA. But Fox affords me an opportunity
to grow" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 7/14)....ABC is touting Lyn St.
James as the first woman to work the booth on network auto
racing. St. James joins Paul Page and Sam Posey in coverage of
the Molson Indy Toronto on Sunday (Prentis Rogers, ATLANTA
CONSTITUTION, 7/14).... ESPN's "Up Close" prime time special,
with Roy Firestone, hosts Hideo Nomo and Greg Norman (Larry
Stewart, L.A. TIMES, 7/14)....Sean McDonough may be considering a
"part-time" job announcing BC football on Boston's all-sports
WEEI-AM.... Patriots VP/Corporate Marketing & Sales Daniel Kraft
says the team has sold out all ad spots for the three exhibition
games to be shown on WCVB. Kraft, son of Patriots Owner Robert
Kraft, promises a production comparable to the networks....Danny
Ainge has an audition for the TBS/TNT analyst job, as he
contemplates retirement from the NBA (Jim Greenidge, BOSTON
GLOBE, 7/14). ....The Astros will begin negotiations on a new
radio contract later this summer. All-sports KILT is expected to
join incumbent KPRC in the bidding for the team's rights (HOUSTON
CHRONICLE, 7/14). ....NBC Super Sport, a joint venture between
NBC and Parallel Media Group, will provide a "broad range" of
programming to NBC's pan-European Super Channel, including Notre
Dame football, NCAA basketball, MLB and the Volvo PGA European
Tour (NBC Super Channel).... Boston-based ad agency Houston
Effler Herstek Favat will create an image campaign for "The NFL
on TNT." The assignment was based on Houston's work for "The NBA
on TNT" (ADWEEK, 7/10)....PrimeStar reports a 700% growth rate in
its DBS service. Officials there say they have hit the 500,000
household mark and are on their way to a million subscribers by
the end of the year (GOULD MEDIA, 7/13).
Mike Myers, of "Wayne's World" and "Saturday Night Live"
fame, is writing a film called "Hockey Night in Mexico" for
Disney. Myers will also star, as a player shipped to the first
expansion team South of the Border, the Tijuana Aztecs. Myers:
"I'm happy -- playing hockey and writing" (VARIETY/TORONTO SUN,
The Justice Department filed a legal brief yesterday
concerning Microsoft's "much-anticipated" Windows 95 operating
system and its access to the Microsoft Network. The brief "stops
short of charging Microsoft with any legal violations, but it
provides the most solid indication yet that the Government may
try to force changes in Microsoft's new program" (Edmund Andrews,
N.Y. TIMES, 7/14). According to the WALL STREET JOURNAL, the
memo's language "seems to hint that the government might be
satisfied with some scheme to give PC makers a choice about
buying the MSN software" (Don Clark, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/14).
"After playing the field for better offers," Labatt and its
buyer-to-be Interbrew S.A. of Belgium "is poised" to sell The
Sports Network and Labatt's other broadcast properties to a group
headed by TSN management, according to sources cited by today's
TORONTO SUN. Others in the group include ESPN, Stephen Bronfman
and Jeremy Reitman. Other bidders include Alliance
Communications, Baton Broadcasting and CanWest Global
Communications. Sources say the TSN group "did not sweeten its
offer" -- said to have been C$600M -- but that it wasn't matched
by the other bidders (Rob Longley, TORONTO SUN, 7/14). Polar
Communications, a radio syndication company, has warned potential
buyers of its C$3M suit against TSN for "misappropriation" of
Polar's radio network (William Houston, GLOBE & MAIL, 7/14).