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Volume 24 No. 160

Sports Media

     "Just 13 months ago Fox had never so much as televised a
live sporting event.  Now the Fox name crops up every time an
event comes up for bid," writes E.M. Swift in this week's issue
of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.  Describing the network as "a major player
in sports since landing the rights to the National Football
Conference in 1993," Swift examines the recent deal with Don King
to broadcast the November 4 Tyson-Mathis bout.  He notes that
"Murdoch, who acts globally while others just talk it," will also
carry the fight in the UK over his Sky TV satellite service.
Swift also cites sources who say the deal stipulates Fox will
also get the rights to a dozen more King-promoted fights.  Fox
Sports President David Hill: "Underpromise, overdeliver.  That's
the sports division's credo."  Swift also writes that Fox's
hockey broadcasts next year will see a computer enhancement of
the televised image of the puck.  In the final stages of
development, the system would make the puck appear slightly
larger and three dimensional.  NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol,
on Fox's NFL approach:  "It's like they decided ESPN is doing
football for football people.  NBC has carved out a niche in news
and information gathering.  So they took the entertainment
angle."  Swift: "Guess what sports fans?  The entertainment angle
is selling" (SI, 9/25 issue).
     LETTERMAN'S TOP TEN GOOD THINGS ABOUT BEING A FOURTH-PLACE
NETWORK:  10) People can't say your show sucks, because they
haven't seen it; 9) You can address all of your viewers by name;
8) Once TV Guide decides to stop listing your shows, the magazine
is lighter and easier to carry; 7) Heartwarming feeling when
canned goods arrive from local grade schools; 6) Get to use
inspiring chant: "We're No. 4"; 5) Fourth ain't so bad -- I mean
imagine you're the fourth handsomest guy in the world   -- you'd
be pretty damn handsome!; 4) Don't get that paranoid feeling that
people are watching you; 3) New slogan: "If networks were
Beatles, we'd be Ringo!; 2) Andy Rooney gets a lot of sympathy
sex; 1) You have reached maximum sucking potential (CBS, 9/20).

     The Sacramento Kings have announced that the team will
televise an additional 25 games on local cable this season via
the Kings Broadcasting Network with the debut of Kings Cable
Television (KCTV), a product of a partnership with Group W Sports
Marketing.  Prior to this deal, the Kings were one of four NBA
teams without a cable package with the Pacers, Bucks and
Clippers.  The 25 cable games will be in addition to the 35 games
carried over-the-air on flagship KPWB-TV.  Group W will offer
Kings games to each local cable system in the team's "marketing
territory" -- including Sacramento, Stockton, Modesto and other
communities (Kings).

     The dual-channel experiment on Tuesday's Phillies-Marlins
game by PRISM and SportsChannel Philadelphia had many voting for
the "conventional" broadcast.  While the game was shown regularly
on PRISM, SportsChannel featured a "three-screen" broadcast
offering insights into coaching and managerial strategy.  Sam
Donnellon writes, "Instead of making us feel like we were there,
the multiscreen approach often created a lack of intimacy, and
perspective. ... But give SportsChannel credit for trying
something new in a sport dominated by ideas older than infield
dirt" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 9/20)....International Figure
Skating magazine plans to go public and offer shareholders a
chance to control one-third of the business.  $50 will buy a
lifetime subscription to IFS and 100 shares (INSIDE MEDIA
ONLINE)....The boards of Turner Broadcasting and Time Warner meet
in New York today to consider the proposed $8B merger.  The best-
case scenario could have both boards approving the deal tomorrow
(N.Y. POST, 9/21).  According to the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, TCI
Chair John Malone would receive Turner's 44% stake in SportSouth
as part of his compensation as a 21% shareholder in TBS (ATLANTA
CONSTITUTION, 9/21).

     The Ryder Cup, the U.S. vs. Europe match play tournament
held every two years, will be carried on USA Network on Friday
(with 10 hours beginning at 8am EDT) and NBC on Saturday and
Sunday.  Saturday's NBC coverage will be wrapped around Notre
Dame football, while Sunday will start at 9am and end at 3:30pm,
to be followed by the NFL.  NBC Exec Producer Tommy Roy, on the
different pace from regular tour events:  "You're not bouncing
around from shot to shot as you would a stroke-play tournament.
You stay with a group or match.  You slow it down for the viewer
and set up stories and situations" (GOLFWEEK, 9/16-22 issue).
     SPONSORS:  Ping is the sole equipment sponsor, with 18 spots
on USA coverage and six a day on NBC.  Titleist and Foot-Joy are
also counting on the Ryder Cup for a fourth-quarter boost, as
they are the official ball, glove and shoe sponsors (Jayne Hynes,
GOLFWEEK, 9/16-22 issue).
     CYBER CUP:  NBC Sports is providing online coverage of the
Ryder Cup from its NBC SuperNet Sports area on The Microsoft
Network and from NBC's Web Site ("NBC HTTV").  In addition to
stats, player bios, course layouts, and continual score updates,
accessers will be able to "Ask the Announcers" questions via e-
mail.  The site be rached at http://www.NBC.com or
http://www.GOLF.com (NBC Sports).
     OTHER PRE-MATCH NOTES:  Collin Montgomerie, who is "emerging
as the leader" of the European team, believes a loss could damage
the European Tour.  Montgomerie:  "There's been so much build-up
and, if we lose, everything will go flat again" (NEWSDAY,
9/18)....USA Network analyst Peter Kostis:  "This is the only
event in golf that you can compare to the Olympics. ... This is
pure golf.  The players don't get any money and they're not
allowed to wear any product logos.  It's a hugely different
environment" (USA Network)....NEWSWEEK's Mark Starr, on Ryder Cup
mania:  "Evidently, there are now enough of us to justify the
kind of coverage that the networks have trouble extending to
political conventions" (NEWSWEEK, 9/25 issue).