In an interview in the latest BROADCASTING & CABLE, Liberty
Media President & CEO Peter Barton describes what to expect from
the partnership with Fox on the new fX sports and entertainment
channel. Barton, whose company is currently working a deal with
Fox to combine all of Liberty's RSNs with fX, believes the two
will work through the "legal administrivia" concerning the
participating channels and close the deal this week. According
to Barton, Liberty will place the Fox brand on its networks
"probably during the Olympics, so we can work out the bugs when
no one is watching." Barton said fX will not seek to challenge
ESPN as an all-sports cable presence: "It will never seek to go
after an all-sports emblem the way ESPN has. We are buying a lot
of marquee sports for it. You really wouldn't want to be one of
the cable operators right now that doesn't have a long-term fX
agreement" (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 4/22).
The NHLPA has added playoff information on its Web site.
Included are player features, up-to-date stats along with
analysis by Kings goalie Kelly Hrudey of each playoff series.
The site can be accessed at http://www. nhlpa.com (THE
DAILY)....Fox Sports has named Chip Caray, grandson of announcing
legend Harry Caray and son of Braves announcer Skip Caray, as
host of the new "BASEBALL on FOX" pregame and studio shows.
Also, Steve Lyons joins Dave Winfield as studio analyst
(Fox)....HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" returns on May 20
with a piece by Jim Lampley on Art Modell and the change of the
Browns to Baltimore Ravens; a piece by James Brown on the CART-
IRL feud; and Larry Merchant examining the risk of death in the
boxing ring (HBO)....MLB Home Video and Sports Illustrated have
announced that SI will use MLBHV's "Official History of Baseball"
to promote subscriptions (Orion Home Video)....SI photographer
Tony Tomsic and SI spokesperson Art Berke said neither the
individual nor the magazine would pursue an incident, in which
Tomsic was injured by an intentional throw by Indians OF Albert
Belle (USA TODAY, 4/23).
NBC's ranking as the top-rated prime-time network is
examined by Greg Baxton of the L.A. TIMES, who writes, "The
momentum is so strong that some experts are saying that NBC may
be poised to dominate the TV landscape as it did during the '80s"
(L.A. TIMES, 4/23). USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke is equally generous
to NBC Sports, with NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol crediting
the deal with the NBA as possibly preserving the division "as
people knew it" in the wake of losing baseball (USA TODAY, 4/23).
ELECTRONIC MEDIA notes NBC posted a nearly 45% increase in first
quarter operating profit on a 25% increase in sales, "spurred
largely" by $15M in net earnings from Super Bowl XXX and $5M net
from the post-game episode of "Friends" (ELECTRONIC MEDIA, 4/22).
BROADCASTING & CABLE reports NBC "is shopping" for an
entertainment cable channel to join its cable news channels and
regional sports holdings. Sources said NBC has made offers for
USA Network and the Family Channel (B&C, 4/22).
WIDE WORLD'S 35TH: On ABC's "Good Morning America," Jim
McKay, Robin Roberts and Frank Gifford discussed the 35th
anniversary of ABC's "Wide World of Sports." ABC airs a two-hour
anniversary special this weekend. Roberts noted how much "Wide
World of Sports" has done for women's sports: "The way they were
treated, it was never condescending, it was always with respect"
("GMA," ABC, 4/23).
NEW LOOK FOR USA: Lacking the "brand identity" essential to
success in the cable world, USA Network will launch a $5M
"makeover" called USA Studios, centered around a central in-
studio home from which the channel's programming will originate.
The redesign also will include a new logo (Lee Hall, ELECTRONIC
CBC'S HOCKEY NUMBERS: CBC's "Hockey Night in Canada"
averaged 2.17 million viewers last Tuesday (Blues-Leafs,
Canadiens-Rangers), 1.47 million on Wednesday (Jets-Wings,
Flames-Blackhawks), and back up to 2.12 million on Thursday
(Blues-Leafs, Canadiens-Rangers) (GLOBE & MAIL, 4/23).
E! GOES OLYMPIC: E! Entertainment Television is working
with Atlanta's MediaOne Cable system to produce a daily Olympic
report, focused on "the Olympics from the entertainment point of
view" (ELECTRONIC MEDIA, 4/22).
In exchange for the Sunshine Network's guarantee of a
sellout for tonight's Game 4 with the Flyers, the Lightning has
granted the cable net the rights to carry the game. Sunshine
will also carry Game 5 in Philadelphia. Originally concerned
about ticket sales, the Lightning did not make Game 4 part of the
TV package. But as sales neared a sellout, Sunshine "stepped in"
an offered to buy up tickets if it could air the game (TAMPA
ROCKETS READY: Since NBC has decided not to air either
Games 3 or 4 of the Rockets-Lakers series from The Summit, both
home games will be televised in the Houston area as
"RocketsVision" on Special Order Sports, Prime Sports' pay-per-
view division (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 4/23).
BULLS SHOW GETS A BACKER: SportsChannel and The Sports
Authority will team up to bring SC's Bulls pre-game show from The
Sports Authority's downtown Chicago store (Ontario and Wabash) on
April 26 (SportsChannel).
A film starring Bill Murray as Bill Veeck is reportedly a
"done deal," according to the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. The long talked
about project will have Turner Pictures pay Murray $10M to
portray the legendary White Sox and Browns owner. The movie will
be based on the book, "Veeck -- As in Wreck" (Hevrdejs & Conklin,
CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/23).
PRIDE GETS PANNED: PEOPLE's "Daily Dish" writes of the new
basketball-themed film, "Celtic Pride," in which deranged Boston
hoops fans Dan Ackroyd and Daniel Stern kidnap the opposition's
star player: "This flick appears less interesting than the day-
to-day antics of Dennis Rodman et al" (PEOPLE, 4/21 issue).