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Volume 24 No. 158

Sports Media

          Hartford gets its first 24-hour, all-sports, radio
     station at WPOP-AM. The network will feature syndicated talk
     shows and commentary provided primarily by ESPN Radio and
     One-on-One radio network (HARTFORD COURANT, 1/11)....ESPN2
     will televise the CBA All-Star game twice on a tape-delayed
     basis, Thursday, January 23, and Saturday, February 1
     (CBA)....TV Guide will relaunch its World Wide Web site at
     www.tvguide.com.  The site has four "main channels" for TV,
     movies, music and sports (N.Y. POST, 1/12).


          The "crowded" sports TV marketplace is examined by
     Bruce Orwall of the WALL STREET JOURNAL.  Orwall: "Is
     anybody watching this stuff?  Niche markets they may be, but
     fans' hunger for a wealth of sports programming shows no
     sign of abating.  Certainly, big money is betting it won't." 
     While some "critics may complain about the surfeit of
     sports, veteran TV sports programmers say they've heard it
     all before."  ABC Sports President/ESPN CEO Steve Bornstein:
     "Everyone's concerned that we're slicing the pie thinner. 
     Our experience has been that we have expanded the pie."  
     The JOURNAL's Orwall notes "the actual viewership of cable
     sports programs isn't reliably tracked.  But some see the
     audience expanding in surprising ways."  ITT Corp. President
     Robert Bowman, who is introducing WBIS+ in New York, a
     sports and business network, said they are "finding more and
     more women watching and talking to their children about
     sports" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/13).
          ITT BETS ON WBIS: ITT's "forays into entertainment" are
     profiled in BUSINESS WEEK under the header, "Is Showbiz No
     Biz for ITT?"  Lesly & Grover write that "even before it
     hits the air, WBIS+'s future is cloudy."  Although it "seems
     like a winner," ITT's CEO Rand Araskog is "counting on cable
     distribution for the broadcast station under 'must carry'
     rules.  But the U.S. Supreme Court may soon revoke must-
     carry. ... That would leave Araskog to duke it out" with the
     likes of News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch "to win space for WBIS+
     on crowded cable systems" (BUSINESS WEEK, 1/20). 

          Fox Sports will cover Super Bowl XXXI in New Orleans,
     LA, on Sunday, January 26.  Kickoff is set for 6:18pm ET. 
     Preliminary overnights from yesterday's games: Fox's NFC
     Championship game earned a 30.7/56 overnight.  NBC's AFC
     title game earned a 28.3/46 (THE DAILY). In Atlanta, Prentis
     Rogers notes Fox "breathed a sigh of relief" when Green Bay
     beat Carolina.  On possible low ratings due to the lack of
     the Cowboys or 49ers in the Super Bowl, Fox's Lou D'Ermilio
     notes the highest-rated Super Bowl was a 49.1 in '82 and
     "that was San Francisco's first Super Bowl and before Joe
     Montana became a legend" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 1/13). In
     Houston, Mike McDaniel notes Fox's coverage of the NFC title
     game yesterday was "prepared to prove beyond any doubt the
     network is ready to host a Super Bowl," but "on the eve of
     reaching that Super Bowl ... Fox fumbled" (HOUSTON
     CHRONICLE, 1/13).  In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley notes Fox
     "warmed to the task" of the title game (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL
     SENTINEL, 1/13).  In New York, Phil Mushnick calls Fox's
     replays "superb" (N.Y. POST, 1/13). 
          FOX HONORED AT LUNCHEON: The Int'l Radio and TV Society
     Sports Foundation will honor Fox Sports' coverage of the
     Super Bowl with a luncheon at N.Y.'s Waldorf Astoria Hotel
     on January 16.  The event will feature Pat Summerall, James
     Brown, Fox Sports Exec Producer Ed Goren and Fox NFL Sunday
     Coordinating Producer Scott Ackerson (The Marquee Group).