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Volume 24 No. 112

Sports Media

     Tonight, NBC's "Dateline" examines the comments made by CBS
golf analyst Ben Wright about lesbianism on the LPGA Tour --
which eventually led to Wright's suspension from the network --
with a focus on the ensuing "eight-month battle" between CBS and
Wilmington (DE) News Journal reporter Valerie Helmbreck.  The
piece also examines Wright's status and his battle with
alcoholism (NBC).  Noting that the piece accuses CBS of trying to
"discredit" and "smear" Helmbreck, CBS execs responded with
charges of unfairness.  CBS Sports Dir of Communications
LeslieAnne Wade:  "We applaud NBC for taking valuable news time
to attack a direct competitor."  CBS Senior VP of Communications
Gil Schwartz chalked it up to sweeps week and said the story has
"no new news value."  But NBC News VP David Corvo noted it is the
first time Helmbreck has spoken on TV and that it is the one-year
anniversary.  He called it a "big story."  CBS Sports President
David Kenin:  "This story has been done" (Rudy Martzke, USA
TODAY, 5/10).  In Baltimore, Milton Kent calls NBC "the worst of
vultures" for attacking CBS and refers to the piece as "lurid and
sensational" (Baltimore SUN, 5/10).

     Giants OF Barry Bonds engaged a shoving match with USA Today
baseball writer Rod Beaton in the team's clubhouse before last
night's game in St. Louis.  According to Mark Gonzales of the SAN
JOSE MERCURY NEWS, Beaton was waiting to interview Giants 2B
Robby Thompson, who was talking at the time with four Red Wings
players visiting the Giants.  Bonds apparently took issue with
what he perceived to be Beaton's loitering, and told him, "Don't
be hanging out in my house."  A later exchange resulted in Bonds
shoving Beaton.  Bonds later said it was "miscommunication."  But
Beaton, noting that Bonds did not apologize when they spoke after
the game, said, "Something has to be done.  Writers can't be fair
game" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 5/10).  USA TODAY noted the
incident in the Giants section of the paper's "NL Notes" column.
Beaton does not intend to file a complaint, and the paper
"considers the matter closed" (USA TODAY, 5/10).  Columnist Mark
Purdy writes the post-strike "thaw" between MLB players and the
media is over and that many "big-name" players "apparently feel
they can say and do (or not say and not do) anything without
repercussions."  He adds, "Guess what.  That was true in the
past, back when baseball was the undisputed king of spring and
summer.  But my gut feeling lately is, that's no longer a fact."
Purdy also refers to the shoving of a reporter from a national
daily newspaper as a "good marketing strategy" (SAN JOSE MERCURY
NEWS, 5/10).

     The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is scheduled to announce
today that ABC renewed its contract to broadcast the Indy 500
through '99.  The deal also covers the IRL and the Brickyard 400
(INDIANAPOLIS STAR-NEWS, 5/10)....Stanley Cup Playoff coverage on
Fox is averaging a 2.4 rating and a 6 share, up 20% over last
season's 2.0/6.  Detroit leads all markets with a 18.6 rating,
followed by Pittsburgh (17.2) and St. Louis (12.3) (Fox
Sports)....Whalers forward Brendan Shanahan has signed on with
ABC's "Good Morning America" to be the "Special Hockey
Correspondent" when the show heads to Canada for a week of
programming May 12-17 (NHL)....The Stars announced that former
NHL goalie Darryl Reaugh has been named new TV and radio color
analyst for the '96-97 season (Stars).... GOLF DIGEST's Peter
McCleery examines NBC's work with the USGA, writing that the
network and the organization "are still on an extended honeymoon"
(GOLF DIGEST, 6/96 issue). ...."Up-to-the-moment" results from
the USGA's championships this summer will be available on the
Internet at http://www. (USGA)....In San Jose, Colin
Seymour write Ronnie Lott is the "leading candidate" to take over
Jimmy Johnson's seat as studio analyst on Fox's NFL coverage (SAN
JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 5/10).... ESPN's Mike Soltys acknowledged they
have been in contact with The Golf Channel about a possible
purchase (USA TODAY, 5/10).

     Liberty Media, TCI and News Corp. completed their previously
announced deal to form a worldwide alliance to own and operate
sports programming on a global basis.  In addition to the U.S.
operation -- in which Liberty contributes is regional and
national sports networks and News Corp. contributes the fX cable
network and cash -- the international component of the deal will
result in jointly owned operations in Latin America, Australia,
Europe and Asia.  In Asia, News Corp. has agreed to sell a 7.5%
stake in STAR TV to Liberty/TCI.  The venture will be headed by
Fox Sports President David Hill, who was named CEO.  Liberty CEO
Peter Barton called it an "unrivaled international enterprise
that will pioneer new forms of cross-promotion, program branding
and other synergies" (Fox/TCI/Liberty).
     OTHER NOTES:  USA TODAY's David Lieberman, noting profits
are down for News Corp.'s broadcasting arm, writes, "It means
[News Corp. Chair Rupert] Murdoch still has nothing to show for
his lavish and controversial efforts to convert Fox from a
clearly defined, albeit an also-ran network for teens and young
adults into a mainstream rival to ABC, CBS and NBC" (USA TODAY,
5/10)....Ad agency Jordan, McGrath, Case & Taylor has been
awarded the corporate and digital TV business accounts for TCI
Communications (JMCT).

     The Bears' radio contract, a three-year deal signed last
year, will go to bid after the '96 season since WGN-AM decided to
exercise an out clause to reopen talks for the final two years of
the deal.  The Bears say they want to have their long-term radio
future decided by October '96.  WGN Programming Dir Tisa LaSorte
said it is possible they may end up signing a long-term deal with
the team, but that they wanted to "keep their options open."
Bears Dir of Marketing & Broadcasting Ken Valdiserri is hopeful
the relationship will continue "beyond 1996."  In Chicago,
Michael Hirsley notes, "Low ratings and high rights fees are the
usual suspects" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/10).
     NEWS & NOTES:  WOR-Radio will be the new radio home of the
Nets, according to Phil Mushnick of the N.Y. POST.  The deal will
be a time buy (N.Y. POST, 5/10)....Indians ratings in April on
SportsChannel Ohio were up 47% over the first month of play last
season.  SportsChannel Ohio Senior VP & GM David Kline reports
the Indians consistently top three of the four broadcast nets on
game nights (SC Ohio).