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Volume 27 No. 26
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          Fox/Liberty Networks and Cablevision's Rainbow Media
     today announced the formation of a national sports
     programming venture where Fox/Liberty will pay $850M for a
     40% stake in Cablevision's RSNs, its MSG teams and
     properties.  The deal will allow Fox Sports Net (FSN) to
     reach 55 million homes through 17 combined RSNs.  The deal
     will also provide national and regional advertisers with a
     "one-stop-shopping" vehicle to reach sports viewers.  The
     venture will also explore additional national sports
     programming opportunities.  In addition, Fox will also
     manage Rainbow's new American Sports Classics network. In a
     separate move, Cablevision named Marc Lustgarten as Chair of
     the Board of Directors at MSG (Fox Sports Net). 
          REAX: The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Hettrick & Collier write
     that the SportsChannel nets in Chicago, S.F., Philadelphia,
     New England, Ohio and MSG Network in New York, "would offer
     Fox Sports Net [FSN] programming for the first time." 
     Hettrick & Collier: "Most of the SportsChannel networks
     would take on the names of the existing regions; however,
     names for the two New York sports channels have not been
     set."  Although "sources at Rainbow" say the management of
     the SportsChannel networks "will not change, it's believed"
     that Fox Sports Net CEO David Hill and Fox TV Group CEO
     Chase Carey "would have a strong hand in the operation that
     would compete with ESPN and TNT for national sports cable
     program packages, and more importantly, national sports
     advertising" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 6/23).  In N.Y., Kelly &
     Furman write that the deal creates "a strong challenger" to
     ESPN, while ad agencies say "that the arrival of [News Corp.
     Chair Rupert] Murdoch as a major player in the New York
     sports TV scene could lead to an adprice war" (N.Y. DAILY
     NEWS, 6/23).  The N.Y. POST's Jon Elsen reported that
     sources close to the venture "downplay the importance of
     bulking up their national programming quickly."   The new
     network "would expand its national Fox Sports News ... and
     then build gradually."  One source: "The strength remains
     with the local programming" (N.Y. POST, 6/22).