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Volume 24 No. 155

Sports Media

          ESPN's magazine "that was supposed to begin competing
     with Sports Illustrated prior to the start of the football
     season is having its opening day pushed back," according to
     a New York Observer report cited in MEDIA CENTRAL.  The
     Observer noted that Hearst Corp.'s "renewed interest" in the
     magazine is "causing the holdup."  Hearst, which owns 20% of
     ESPN and published eight issues of ESPN Total Sports in '95
     and '96, "had second thoughts about backing the magazine"
     after a "start up price" of roughly $75M.  But, Disney
     approved the launch, "subsequently prompting reconsideration
     at Hearst" (MEDIA CENTRAL, 4/28).

          Fox Sports "soon will approach major retailers" about
     establishing branded areas in stores to sell sports
     merchandise and apparel, according to Chuck Ross of AD AGE. 
     Fox is also "considering" a quarterly magazine covering the
     sports for which it holds broadcast rights.  According to a
     Fox source, both ideas are part of an "overall strategy" to
     "cement in the consumer's mind Fox Sports as an independent
     entity," and added, "It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say
     we want to compete with merchandise and apparel from the
     likes of Nike."  Fox Sports will pitch the store-within-a-
     store concept to retailers such as JCPenney.  Fox's plan is
     for merchandise to center on the Fox Sports logo, but also
     carry marks of leagues and teams covered by Fox.  The
     network hopes to announce store partnerships by the NFL
     season opener (AD AGE, 4/28 issue). 

          In N.Y., Bob Raissman calls NBC's technical coverage of
     Michael Jordan's 55-point game on Sunday "mesmerizing," but
     adds, "Can't say the same for the time wasted shooting David
     Falk during the game" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/29)....In Akron,
     Terry Pluto writes on Sports Illustrated/Women Sport under
     the header "Magazine Goes Beyond Edge Of Good Taste." 
     Pluto: "Now that Sports Illustrated Women Sport has hit
     every sexual hot button, maybe it can settle down and give
     us a magazine that everyone can be proud of" (AKRON BEACON
     JOURNAL, 4/29)....NY-based Think Inc. expects to launch a
     new MLBPA World Wide Web site around MLB's All-Star Game in
     July (BRANDWEEK, 4/28 issue)....Game Seven of the Coyotes-
     Mighty Ducks game will be simulcast on Fox Sports West and
     Fox Sports West 2 (Mighty Ducks)....The Marlins are likely
     to switch their entire cable package to SportsChannel FL
     next season as the team confirmed they are close to
     completing a multiyear deal with SportsChannel, which is
     managed by Marlins Owner Wayne Huizenga's Front Row
     Communications (MIAMI HERALD, 4/29).

          The following lists ratings from last weekend's NBA     Playoff games on NBC, compared to the first round of the '96     NBA Playoffs.  All times are eastern.  The numbers were     gathered from NBC.  For a complete listing of the "NHL on     Fox" ratings over the weekend, see #29 (THE DAILY).
SAT. APRIL 26, 1997
SAT. APRIL 27, 1996
SUN. APRIL 27, 1997
SUN. APRIL 28, 1996

          Cablevision's response to Classic Sports Network's
     (CSN) complaint to the FCC last month, which charged
     Cablevision with making ownership-for-carriage demands, was
     made public yesterday, according to Richard Sandomir of the
     N.Y. TIMES.  Cablevision said CSN's charges "ignore the
     industrywide scarcity of capacity" to carry new services. 
     It also said CSN asked "too much" for carriage, then
     diminished the need for it by placing it on New York's WBIS+
     from last July through January (N.Y. TIMES, 4/29)..
          OTHER CSN NOTES: VARIETY's John Dempsey reports that
     CSN has told cable operators that if they put CSN on their
     cable systems, it will "cancel" its DirecTV contract when it
     comes up for renewal in two years. Such a proposal of
     exclusivity could give the network "a leg up" on its
     competitors (VARIETY, 4/28)....CSN is teaming with Polygram
     Video to promote the summer release of "When We Were Kings." 
     CSN gets a commercial on the tape and supports with a week
     of on-air promos and programming (BRANDWEEK, 4/28).
          BUD BIDS FOR WBIS+? In N.Y., Beth Piskora reports that
     sources say Paxson Communications Corp. has offered $250M in
     cash to buy WBIS+ from ITT Corp. and Dow Jones & Co.  The
     deal could be signed "as early as next week" (N.Y. POST,
     4/29).  But a Paxson spokesperson denied that the company
     was making a bid for WBIS+.  Dow Jones declined to comment. 
     A spokesperson for ITT said that the company was in talks
     with "a number of possible bidders" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/29).

          Rupert Murdoch's $1B bid to purchase EchoStar
     Communications and turn ASkyB into a "satellite power" is
     running into "heavy weather," according to Brooks Boliek of
     the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.  Murdoch's News Corp. and EchoStar
     delayed their applications for regulatory approval "because
     there are disagreements that remain to be worked out."  By
     combining EchoStar and ASkyB, News Corp.'s satellite TV
     business, Murdoch "hoped to create a deep-pocketed No. 3
     competitor to industry leaders DirecTV and Primestar." 
     EchoStar, in a release: "There can be no assurance that News
     Corp. will proceed with an investment in EchoStar."  News
     Corp. spokesperson Jim Platt: "There won't be any filings
     until we have certain business issues resolved" (HOLLYWOOD
     REPORTER, 4/29).  In N.Y., Mark Landler notes the "sticking
     point" is that EchoStar does not plan to equip its
     subscribers will a satellite decoder system made by News
     Corp.  EchoStar "was told" that unless it "dropped" its
     system in favor of News Corp.'s, the investment would be
     cancelled (N.Y. TIMES, 4/29).  In D.C., Paul Farhi notes
     speculation that Murdoch and EchoStar CEO Charlie Ergen
     "were fighting over control" or that Murdoch "was having
     second thoughts about the financial commitment," which could
     reach up to $5B over several years (WASHINGTON POST, 4/29).
          TC-BYE-BYE? The TIMES' Landler notes a source who said
     that Murdoch might be seeking to "swap partners" from
     EchoStar to TCI Inc., which has a 21% stake in Primestar. 
     But pulling out of the EchoStar deal "could prove costly,"
     since terms call for News Corp. to purchase $200M worth of
     EchoStar shares or to invest $200M in the company, "if the
     transaction does not close by May 1" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/29).
          PRIMED FOR BATTLE: Primestar is "putting the finishing
     touches on a major reorganization" designed to help cable
     companies challenge rivals such as DirecTV and EchoStar,
     according to USA TODAY's David Lieberman.  Under the new
     arrangement, Primestar, the No. 2 satellite provider, would
     be transformed into a unified company with a national
     pricing and marketing plan.  Primestar would be "folded
     into" TCI Satellite Entertainment.  TCI would own about 38%
     of the equity; Time Warner about 30% (USA TODAY, 4/29).

          Chicago-based One-on-One Sports radio network hopes to
     debut in the New York City market by "early fall" as it has
     purchased WXLX-AM, according to David Hinckley of the N.Y.
     DAILY NEWS.  Company CEO Chris Brennan said that he is "not
     crazy enough to think his new station will knock off the
     powerful WFAN."  Brennan: "We aren't coming in to challenge
     'FAN at what they do best.  We just feel there may be 'FAN
     listeners who at times would like an alternative." 
     Currently, there are no plans to feature local hosts on the
     network (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/29).