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Volume 24 No. 136

Sports Media

     A "nasty feud" between ABC's Al Michaels and Sports
Illustrated Managing Editor Mark Mulvoy "exploded publicly this
week," fueled by Michaels' criticism of SI's recent cover story
on "Hot/Not" in Miami featuring Don Shula and Pat Riley.
According to Steve Zipay of NEWSDAY, another "sore point" between
the two is the role of SI's Peter King during halftime on "Monday
Night Football."  The two have exchanged shots on NYC sports
radio stations this week.  Mulvoy said he didn't appreciate
Michaels' comments on the Miami story and accused him of
"mistreating" King by not promoting his reports.  Michaels
responded that recent King reports have included "a lot that I've
seen earlier in the day on CNN Headline News. ... I'm waiting for
something that I haven't heard before."  Mulvoy defended King and
listed the stories King has broken on "MNF."   Michaels said that
Mulvoy is setting him "up as the heavy" in case ABC's deal with
SI is not renewed.  Michaels, on the Riley cover story:  "Pat was
personally angered because he was deceived and double-dealt with.
You owe it to someone to tell them where you're going with a
piece" (NEWSDAY, 12/15).
     CONFLICT?  ABC "could do more" during halftime, writes
Zipay, but with only 12 minutes, "how much more?"  Zipay
questions why a magazine such as SI lets its writers work for a
network, raising the potential for "conflicts on who gets
information and when?" (NEWSDAY, 12/15).

     Wednesday's Bulls-Magic game on TBS received a 3.9 rating,
No. 6 all-time in Turner's 12 years of covering the NBA, with the
"second highest audience."  Total ratings are up 44%. (USA TODAY,
12/15)....Fox's Jerry Glanville says Jerry Jones "is killing the
Cowboys by doing those commercials with Deion (Sanders).  How
would you like to be Troy Aikman and Nate Newton with Cowboys
Super Bowl rings and see Deion doing commercials with the owner?"
(USA TODAY, 12/15)....Turner Sports President Harvey Schiller
believes NBC's Olympic deals will help all major sports
organizations because "other networks will refocus their efforts
on quality sports events and the prices for entities such as the
NBA and NFL will go higher." Schiller:  "It makes the
rightsholder position so much stronger" (WASHINGTON POST,
12/15)....Robert Lipsyte of the N.Y. TIMES writes on the protest
by NOW and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation
against CBS golf analyst Ben Wright (N.Y. TIMES, 12/15)....Bill
Webb, the "highly regarded" director currently under contract to
MSG and ABC, will reportedly sign a deal with Fox to direct
baseball (Phil Mushnick, N.Y. POST, 12/15)....Boomer Esiason
joins CBS as an studio analysts for college football telecasts
(CBS Sports).

     NBC and Microsoft Corp. announced their partnership
yesterday to launch a 24-hour news and information cable channel
and "a companion interactive online service," according to
NEWSDAY.  The channel will be known as MSNBC Cable, and is
expected to be on the air in six months.  NBC will transform its
America's Talking cable channel, "giving the new service an
immediate entree into 20 million homes and eliminating a hurdle
most new cable channels face -- getting on the dial."  Microsoft
will pay NBC $220M over five years for a 50% stake in the
venture.  The two companies will also invest $200M each during
the next five years in other ventures.  Martin Yudkovitz,
President of NBC Interactive Media, called the deal the "first
major example in television of an acknowledgement there's got to
be a fundamental change in the way the TV industry approaches the
future" (Elizabeth Sanger, NEWSDAY, 12/15).  NBC President &  CEO
Robert Wright:  "This is not CNN.  This is a unique service.  If
we just wanted to offer an interactive component we could do this
ourselves. ... Hopefully the two of us together will be more
ambitious" ("NBR," PBS, 12/14).    REAX:  In San Francisco,
Michelle Quinn calls it a "clear indication" Microsoft Chair Bill
Gates "wants to be a media mogul" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 12/14).
Despite the "excitement" yesterday, "plenty of questions remained
about the channel," according to Bill Carter of the N.Y. TIMES.
They include whether the cable industry will "embrace a director
competitor to CNN to whether there is enough audience to support
two all-news networks."  Some cable operators could block
distribution by saying changing the format of America's Talking
means "terms of their contract with NBC has changed" (N.Y. TIMES,
12/15).  John Durie writes it means the end to Ted Turner's news
"monopoly profits" and "underscores the importance of content and
distribution in the new media age" (N.Y. POST, 12/15).
     HOT LINKS:  The online service will be available through The
Microsoft Network, with further possibilities explained yesterday
on how broadcast, cable, and PCs will "mingle."  One example:
NBC News might just touch on the budget battle in Washington.
But interested parties could turn to the cable channel for
interviews and analysis.  Computer users could use their PCs to
type in income and other facts to find out how competing budget
proposals would affect them personally (Elizabeth Sanger,
NEWSDAY, 12/15).
     NOT FOR SALE:  After the announcement, GE Chair Jack Welch
"quashed recent speculation" that GE would sell the network,
although "he did not rule out" bringing in a partner.  Welch said
GE would not have approved NBC's purchase this week of Olympic
rights if it intended to sell. Welch also "expressed regret"
attempts to buy TBS had failed (BLOOMBERG BUSINESS NEWS/ATLANTA

     Today:  The NFL Week 16:
     GAME                             LOCAL TIME         NETWORK
     Green Bay at New Orleans (Sat.)     3:00               Fox
     Atlanta at Carolina                 1:00               Fox
     Cincinnati at Cleveland             1:00               NBC
     Jacksonville at Detroit             1:00               NBC
     New York Jets at Houston            1:00               NBC
     San Diego at Indianapolis           4:00               NBC