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Volume 24 No. 137

Sports Media

     The future of Fox's fX cable channel in the wake of the Fox-
Liberty sports alliance is examined by VARIETY's Joe Flint.  The
partnership plans to use fX as a "major part" of its sports
plans, turning it into a "nationally distributed, general
entertainment and sports network."  Flint notes that fX "already
has the entertainment; how it will incorporate the sports -- and
how much it will have to incorporate -- is the key question."  fX
will start carrying MLB telecasts in '97 and could start carrying
other sports, including the NHL and some regional programming as
part of the Liberty venture.  Flint reports cable operators are
watching "closely," as those that don't carry fX "would be more
interested if it had a heavy load of sports, while those that do
carry the network are nervous about an overhaul."  One cable
operator warned:  "If the model is USA Network or TNT, then it
would probably be consistent with what they sold us.  However, if
it is anything close to a regional sports channel or a network
with a strong load of secondary sports, then it is totally out of
bounds.  If TCI and Fox think that is what they will create, then
they'll have a revolution on their hands" (VARIETY, 12/17 issue).
     GIVE HIM LIBERTY:  Liberty Media President Peter Barton
discusses their partnership with Fox in the current issue of
INSIDE MEDIA.  On securing MLB TV rights, Barton said what made
the Fox-Liberty partnership attractive to baseball were their
national-local "interrelationships."  Barton:  "We have the
rights here to cross-promote between the regionals, which show on
the order of 1,200 baseball games a year -- more than anybody
else ... Nobody else really has that kind of cross-promotional
and branding capability" (Brockinton & Reynolds, INSIDE MEDIA,
12/13 issue).

     The contract of Jim Nelford, The Golf Channel's lead analyst
for live men's tournament coverage, was not renewed for '96.  TGC
VP/Production Mike Whelan said the two sides could not come to
terms on a new deal.  Also, Don McGuire, a former Senior VP at
Turner Broadcasting, has been retained as consultant for TGC
(GOLF WEEK, 12/16 issue)....At "Spotlight on Interactive
Advertising '95" in New York, Scott Kurnitt, President & CEO of
the new MCI/News Corp. online venture, predicted '96 could pose a
challenge to the interactive community.  Kurnitt said although
"there will be some new companies" emerging, there's "no question
the business will have a shakeout" after a year of "enthusiasm
and discovery."  Kurnitt:  "Some will be better than others,
rising to the top and capturing people's imagination.  Some will
be dormant.  And some will go out of business" (Stuart Elliot,
N.Y. TIMES, 12/20)....ESPN will not bring back Roy Smalley Jr. as
an analyst on "Baseball Tonight" telecasts (USA TODAY,
12/20)....Harbin Enterprises will present a new call-in radio
show, "Roto Talk," hosted by DC sports talk show host Bruce
Murray.  The show will provide commentary and discussion on all
fantasy sports and can be initially heard in the Washington on
all-sports WTEM-AM.  An announcement regarding other affiliates
will be released after January 1 (Harbin Enterprises).....Despite
earlier reports that Red Sox TV rights would move to WABU-TV, the
VHF channel was notified by Sox TV rightsholder Kevin Dunn "that
it had lost out."  WLVI-TV now becomes the "heir apparent" (Jack
Craig, BOSTON GLOBE, 12/19).

     The Lions have denied reports they will move radio rights
from WWJ-AM to WXYT-AM despite a report by Bill Rose of the
DETROIT FREE PRESS that the team has struck a three-year, $10.2M
deal with Infinity Broadcasting, parent company of WXYT.  The
games would reportedly be simulcast on WKYT's sister station,
WOMC-FM.  But Lions VP/Administration Bill Keenist said reports
of any deal are "premature."  Infinity owns radio rights to the
Falcons, Cowboys, Patriots, Eagles, Bucs, Redskins and Jets, and
is "on the fast track to become the radio voice of the NFL."  The
Lions' current $1.55M per year radio deal expires at the end of
this season.  It is believed the team is looking to "at least
double" that amount in the new deal (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 12/19).
     COWBOY NATION:  Cowboys radio analyst Dale Hansen told the
FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM he believes he will be fired at the end
of the year.  Hansen has had "a rocky relationship" with Owner
Jerry Jones and Coach Barry Switzer since the start of last
season, and sources say Hansen has "angered" Jones with his
outspokenness.  He recently "ripped" Switzer's 4th-down decision
against the Eagles and said Sunday the Giants "were robbed" when
a late touchdown was called back.  Hansen is working under a one-
year deal after 12 years as an analyst.  Jones said yesterday any
impending change is "news to me" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM,

     Fox's Saturday evening telecast of Tyson-Mathis gained a
16.1 national rating and a 28 share, making it Fox's highest
rated night of programming ever.  Fox estimates more than 43
million viewers tuned in, making it the most watched prime-time
program in Fox history (Fox Sports).  Fox averaged a 9.1 rating
for the week ended December 17, a 1.7-point gain from a year ago
(AD AGE ONLINE, 12/20).