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).