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Volume 24 No. 112

Leagues Governing Bodies

          The upcoming AVP season is examined by Brockinton &
     Reynolds of INSIDE MEDIA, and it touts "new sponsors, more
     live TV coverage, increased national/local promotional
     activities, enhanced on-site amenities and adjusted on-court
     rules."  American Honda and Volleyball magazine have become
     official sponsors and NJ-based ISI has been retained to land
     sponsorship and media packages. ISI is looking to find a
     soft drink, water and isotonic beverage sponsor after Coca-
     Cola/PowerAde dropped its AVP package (INSIDE MEDIA, 1/29).
          SIDE OUT W/PEACOCK?  Brockinton & Reynolds note that
     the "big question" for the AVP is whether '97 "will mark the
     final year of the AVP on NBC."  NBC's schedule, featuring
     "more golf" and a commitment to the WNBA "in late-afternoon
     time slots ... is a lot more crowded" than when the network
     first signed the AVP.  AVP CEO Jerry Solomon: "NBC has been
     and continues to be a great supporter of the AVP.  We feel
     there should be six to ten AVP telecasts on broadcast per
     year ... So we're right in the ballpark."  NBC Sports Senior
     VP/Programming Jon Miller: "The AVP is a good property that
     helped us fill a niche six years ago when we lost Major
     League Baseball and before we had Notre Dame football, more
     golf and now the WNBA.  Jerry understands the network sports
     business and the need to be flexible.  We have every
     intention that the AVP will be back in some format" (INSIDE
     MEDIA, 1/29 issue).

          

          A federal appeals court ruled that Motorola and Stats,
     Inc. can transmit real-time NBA game scores and statistics
     taken from radio and TV broadcasts, according to Michael
     Rapoport of the WALL STREET JOURNAL.  The 3-0 ruling
     reversed a lower court ruling "which had enjoined" Motorola
     and Stats, Inc. from disseminating information over pager
     systems called Sportstrax and other online services.  NBA
     Legal Counsel Jeffrey Mishkin said the league plans to
     appeal the ruling (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/31).
          HOT TEST: The appeals court ruled that the NBA had not
     met "a narrowly tailored 'hot news' test for prevailing on
     such a misappropriation claim."  The court ruled that
     neither Motorola nor Stats were "free-riding" on the NBA's
     information.  The court also ruled that while "broadcasts of
     athletic events are protected by copyright, the events
     themselves aren't because they aren't 'original works of
     authorship' under the law."  The outcome isn't know in
     advance and "wholly unexpected events may influence it." 
     The court said the ruling "applies equally" to an AOL site
     featuring information provided by Stats.  Stats attorney
     Andrew Deutsch said he expects a separate NBA suit against
     AOL and Stats to be dropped (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/31).  In
     N.Y., Lawrie Mifflin writes that the ruling "reiterated that
     the facts and scores of a basketball game were facts, and
     that under Federal copyright law, facts could not be
     copyrighted."  In her ruling for the NBA, lower court Judge
     Loretta Preska noted the league's commercial property rights
     were being taken without compensation.  But the appeals
     court ruled that the NBA claim "confuses three different
     products:" the games, radio and TV broadcasts of those
     games, and retransmission of "strictly factual information"
     about those games.  The opinion said: "The first and second
     products are the N.B.A.'s primary business ... [but] there
     is no evidence that anyone regards Sportstrax or the AOL
     site as a substitute for attending N.B.A. games or watching
     them on television" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/31).
          REAX: On "Moneyline," CNN's Lou Dobbs called the ruling
     a "big legal victory" for Motorola.  Dobbs noted the court
     "said the NBA failed to prove that it was harmed by the
     transmission of those scores."  Dobbs added that the ruling
     could also be a "boon" to AOL ("Moneyline," CNN, 1/30). 
     Motorola Attorney Herbert Schwartz: "It's also an important
     result for online providers and for the Internet because it
     also allows people like America Online to give updated
     scores in real time as the game goes on. ... It's important
     for the new media in terms of their ability to transmit
     facts promptly once those facts have been made public over
     TV or radio" ("Market Wrap," CNBC, 1/30).  ESPN's Bob Ley
     noted the ruling was a "loss" for the NBA ("SportsCenter,"
     ESPN, 1/30).  In Chicago, Howard Wolinsky notes Stats and
     Motorola "scored big" with the ruling.  As for Sportstrax,
     Motorola attorney Roger Dusberger said, "Sportstrax is a
     great product with a lot of pent-up demand.  But Motorola
     management will need to re-evaluate whether and how to move
     forward with the product" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/31).

          Dennis Rodman will meet with NBA Commissioner David
     Stern today in New York, according to Lacy Banks of the
     CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.  Rodman and agent, Dwight Manley, will
     meet with Stern to discuss the league's 11-game suspension
     and directive to undergo counseling.  Sources tell Banks
     that Atlanta psychiatrist Dr. Lloyd Baccus will be present
     at today's meeting, but Manley said Rodman "will undergo no
     treatment or counseling by any psychiatrist."  Neither Rev.
     Jesse Jackson nor NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter will attend,
     but sources say Jackson "served as a catalyst" for today's
     talks through conversations with NBA Deputy Commissioner
     Russ Granik (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/31).
          YAZ: In N.Y., POST's gossip columnist Neal Travis notes
     Rodman "is about to become a major motion picture star" with
     his upcoming performance in the Jean-Claude Van Damme movie,
     "Double Team."  Sources say Rodman's "screen presence" is
     "already causing an industry buzz" (N.Y. POST, 1/31). 
          MOVING ON UP: The NBPA will stay in New York City after
     Exec Dir Billy Hunter was "seriously weighing" a move to
     Washington, DC, according to Dan Wasserman on SportsTicker. 
     The NBPA's lease on its midtown Manhattan office ended last
     month, and Hunter has signed a five-year lease that will
     move the NBPA's office to an upgraded facility just four
     blocks from the current location (SportsTicker, 1/30).

          NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue was a guest on ESPN's
     "Up Close" last night.  Excerpts from his interview:  On
     Super Bowl XXXII in San Diego: "The timetable is up in the
     air because of the court case. ... Hopefully we can play the
     game there ... but it's at risk now. ... We'll have to look
     at contingency plans and we're doing that.  The Rose Bowl
     ... would love to host the game, I'm sure there would be
     other cities."  On the league's substance abuse policy: "You
     want to have standards, we have them.  You want stiff
     discipline, we have it.  In most cases, tougher than people
     would run into in the courts."  On the next TV deal: "CBS
     has made it clear that they want to be part of the
     conversations, and I would expect eventually they would be." 
     On an 18-game schedule: "The 16 games over the 17 weeks
     works extremely well ... I think we'll be with the same
     schedule for the regular season, we might look at a
     different approach for the preseason" (ESPN, 1/30).