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Volume 24 No. 116

Sports Media

     NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol is featured in the current
issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED as the man who led NBC to the
"richest, boldest, riskiest rights acquisition" in TV history by
securing Olympic rights through 2008.  Sally Jenkins writes the
"implications for the other networks are potentially devastating
from a programming standpoint because Ebersol has now all but
cornered the market on premier sports events."  Ebersol's
"colleagues and competitors have learned that beneath the casual
attire and attitude is a thoroughly rapacious businessman," as he
has a "habit of likening negotiations to love affairs, and his
blockbuster Olympic deals owe much to the strength of his
personal charm."  As for the other networks, Jenkins writes,
"When you've been hit by a surprise attack at dawn, it's your own
fault if you haven't posted a lookout."  NBC's competitors are
having a "hard time explaining how they could have been caught
flat-footed" after NBC's Olympic deal in August (SI, 12/25
issue).

     ABC Sports is conducting an audit into the finances of The
Baseball Network, according to the N.Y. TIMES. The Baseball
Network, a partnership between ABC, NBC and MLB that ended at the
end of this season.  ABC Sports spokesperson Mark Mandel:  "When
a business dissolves, it's prudent to do an audit."  As TBN's
"term came to an end at the World Series, relations between TBN
President Ken Schanzer and ABC Sports President Dennis Swanson
"turned decidedly sour."  Schanzer has since joined NBC, which
has "not joined ABC in the audit."  NBC Sports President Dick
Ebersol said he was "surprised by ABC's move" (N.Y. TIMES,
12/22).

     NBC's Will McDonough is being criticized by some Browns
observers for favoring Art Modell in his discussions of the team.
But McDonough, in speaking with the Akron BEACON JOURNAL, said
his coverage is "fair and accurate."  McDonough: "I have never
done anything in favor of Art Modell.  I just tell the truth."
Questions persist because McDonough's son, Terry, is an Atlanta-
based scout for the Browns.  Terry has scouted college games for
the Browns since '92, but McDonough said "if you play things down
the middle and tell the truth, there's no problem."  The BEACON
JOURNAL's R.D. Heldenfels writes of McDonough's coverage, "it
could be what McDonough sees as hard truths are simply
unpalatable to Cleveland fans" -- like the lack of city support
if the team was forced to stayed in Cleveland under Modell.  NBC
Sports spokesperson Ed Markey did not know if NBC had ever
mentioned McDonough's son's post on the air.  Heldenfels
concludes that both McDonough and NBC "would have been better
served" by making his family connection more "widely known"
(Akron BEACON JOURNAL, 12/22).

     Former Piston Bill Laimbeer has signed a deal with PASS
cable to do a sports program.  Laimbeer's show will be featured
monthly (DETROIT NEWS, 12/22)....NHL Senior VP Steve Solomon,
formerly of ABC, "downplays reports" he is a candidate to be
President of CBS Sports (USA TODAY, 12/22). ...."Hoyt 'n' Andy's
Sportsbender," ESPN's planned animated program, has been
"postponed indefinitely from its planned Christmas day start"
(CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/22)....USA Network announced their planned
fight for Tommy Hearns has been cancelled.  Hearns' fight would
have been his second in four months, and the network "no longer
wishes to be a party to his diminished capacity" (Phil Mushnick,
N.Y. POST, 12/22). ....Radio stocks were up yesterday upon news
an emerging telecom bill could lead to a wave of mergers.
Infinity Broadcasting was up 3 3/4 to 36 1/2, Evergreen Media was
up 3 5/8 to 27 1/2, and American Radio Systems was up 4 1/4 to 25
1/2 ("Moneyline," CNN, 12/21)....Jeff Cockin, TV negotiator for
CART's U.S. 500, said Fox wants a prime time start, but the
Michigan course doesn't have the lights.  CBS is said to have
changed its mind "a couple times" (USA TODAY, 12/22).