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Volume 24 No. 113

Sports Media

     CBS Sports President David Kenin issued a statement
yesterday announcing that golf analyst Ben Wright will not be
part of CBS' golf broadcast team when coverage begins next month.
Kenin acknowledged the "continuing controversy" over comments
attributed to Wright "has detracted" from CBS' golf coverage and
he said "there are no plans for Wright's return" (CBS Sports).
In a statement issued by Wright's agent, RLR Associates of New
York, Wright apologized to CBS, the LPGA and Wilmington News-
Journal reporter Valerie Helmbreck.  Wright: "Despite the fact
that I have been widely misquoted, there is no doubt that I have
been guilty of making some insensitive remarks" (WASHINGTON POST,
1/10)
     MEDIA REAX: In New York, Richard Sandomir calls it a "paid
suspension" covering the length of his four-year contract with
CBS -- reportedly worth around $1M.  The "fact that he was not
fired holds out a thin, but unlikely possibility of
reinstatement."  Sandomir notes there are  "few suitors" at other
networks, while The Golf Channel may consider him in the future
(N.Y. TIMES, 1/10).  A source "familiar" with Wright's contract
told WASHINGTON POST that it was "remotely possible Wright could
be put back on golf after a year."  A CBS source said honoring
the contract was "a better alternative than a costly and
prolonged lawsuit" (Leonard Shapiro, WASHINGTON POST, 1/10).
ESPN's Keith Olbermann:  "As firings go, we should all be so
lucky" ("SportsCenter," 1/9).  NEWSDAY's Steve Zipay notes one
CBS Sports source said "something had to be done.  There were
still no grounds for firing him.  But things were never quieting
down, it got to be too much" (NEWSDAY, 1/10).  USA TODAY's
Michael Hiestand notes CBS' statement offered "ambiguity and
evasiveness to encourage speculation" on Wright's possible return
(USA TODAY, 1/10).  In Atlanta, Prentis Rogers writes CBS is
"trying to wash its hands of the controversy without totally
removing the source of the controversy" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION,
1/10).  Phil Mushnick notes, "Interestingly, Wright remains under
contract."  But he adds "no one should hold his or her breath"
for Wright's return (N.Y. POST, 1/10).  In Chicago, Steve Nidetz
writes Wright is off the air "indefinitely.  For Now" (CHICAGO
TRIBUNE, 1/10).  In Philadelphia, Diane Pucin writes "fine,
upstanding CBS" will continue to pay Wright for four more years
(PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 1/10).  Columnist George Vecsey notes CBS
"needed to get rid of the distraction," while adding "it is worth
noting how long it took" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/10).  Kyle Smith of the
N.Y. POST notes "the announcement was not only slow to come, but
a total reversal of the network's staunch defense" of Wright
(N.Y. POST, 1/10).  In Baltimore, Milton Kent writes CBS "did the
right thing" -- even if it was late (Baltimore SUN, 1/10).
     OTHER REAX:  LPGA Commissioner Jim Ritts said CBS'
announcement has "been too long in coming. But our patience has
been rewarded" (USA TODAY, 1/10).  Ritts told George Vecsey of
the N.Y. TIMES that Wright "will no longer be a distraction" and
said the continued controversy had not affected tour sponsorships
(N.Y. TIMES, 1/10).

     The Golf Channel announced it has reached agreement with
Time Warner Cable, the second largest cable operator in the
country.  The deal allows individual Time Warner cable systems to
negotiate with The Golf Channel and put the channel on their
systems.  Time Warner Cable serves 11.5 million cable homes in
the United States (Golf Channel).  Also, TGC has "finally made a
breakthrough in Boston" with Cablevision introducing the channel
last week to its subscribers, according to Jack Craig of the
BOSTON GLOBE.  The channel now has 1.45 million subscribers
nationwide, but "that number is growing steadily as regional
systems are finally opening channels" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/7).  The
Golf Channel has hired LPGA golfers Beth Daniel and Jane Geddes
as analysts (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 1/9).

     SportsTicker announced their sports news and information
service will be available on a pay-per-use basis through the Web
Interactive Network distribution channel.  Information would be
accessible via WIN's distribution program, which allows the
purchase of software and information on a pay-per-use or rent-to-
own basis directly from the home PC (SportsTicker)....ESPN's
Charley Steiner reported the George Foreman/Michael Moorer bout
scheduled for February 29 at Madison Square Garden is back on,
now that the 47-year-old Foreman has met TVKO's demand that the
fight is guaranteed to be "the end of the line" for Foreman's
boxing career ("SportsCenter," 1/9).

     A consortium backed by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. has made
a bid worth more than $2B for the European broadcasting rights
for the Winter and Summer Olympics between 2000 and 2008.  The
bid is the "fiercest challenge yet" to the European Broadcasting
Union, which "negotiates collectively" on behalf of Europe's
public service broadcasters for sports rights.  Until now, EBU
"has always won the contract."   The bid delivered to the IOC on
Monday was signed by Sam Chisholm, who is in charge of all News
Corp. TV interests outside the U.S. and CEO of British Sky
Broadcasting.  Other continental European broadcasters are
believed to be in the consortium, as "its aim would be to show
the Olympics on a mixture of subscription channels and
terrestrial television networks" (Raymond Snoddy, FINANCIAL
TIMES, 1/10).