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Volume 24 No. 112

Sports Media

          ESPN will launch ESPN West, an RSN servicing Southern
     CA, NV and HI, beginning October '98 in conjunction with the
     start of the NHL season.  The 24-hour service will include
     regional coverage of the Disney-owned Mighty Ducks, starting 
     with the '98-99 season, and the Angels, beginning with the
     '99 season.  A full schedule is in development (ESPN).
          RSN WAR HEATS UP: In L.A., Larry Stewart writes that
     ESPN West will be the first of what ESPN hopes is a number
     of RSNs to "combat" Fox Sports Net.  ESPN Exec VP/Sales &
     Marketing George Bodenheimer said ESPN West will carry 40
     Mighty Ducks games next season along with 37 Angels games in
     '99 and 50 in 2000.  Stewart notes since Fox has the Lakers
     and Kings "locked up until 2010," and the Clippers for four
     more years, that "doesn't leave much local inventory for
     ESPN West."  High school and local college sports are
     possibilities.  While Bodenheimer said no price for the RSN
     has been set, he said it would be "fair."  The ESPN West
     announcement was made at a cable convention in Anaheim, and
     a number of cable execs attending "questioned" its creation,
     "wondering if there is room for yet another sports channel
     and also how ESPN could make it economically feasible."  One
     source said the Angels and Ducks, combined, are giving up
     about $8.5M a year in local TV rights fees "by leaving the
     Fox family."  Stewart: "Add to that about $3.5 million in
     production costs, and ESPN West would need to bring in $11
     million a year to break even" (L.A. TIMES, 12/11).  In
     Anaheim, Scott Hettrick reports that ESPN West will reach
     about 4.4 million homes.  He adds that the new RSN "presents
     a difficult situation for area cable operators, most of
     which agreed recently to add" Fox Sports West 2 and its
     coverage of the Dodgers and Ducks.  The combined cost to
     operators for FSW and FSW2 is more than $1.50 per subscriber
     per month.  In '99, Angels coverage will be shared between
     Fox Sports West and ESPN West before shifting exclusively to
     ESPN West in 2000.  ESPN "plans to fill a large portion" of
     the ESPN West schedule with feeds from ESPNEWS (HOLLYWOOD
     REPORTER, 12/11).  In N.Y., Bruce Orwall writes ESPN "is
     late getting into the regional sports business that Fox has
     dominated."  Orwall adds that forming more ESPN RSNs "will
     in many cases mean trying to pry teams away from Fox," but
     ESPN "is confident that it can put together programming
     packages that are more attractive than its competitors"
     (Bruce Orwall, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/11).   

          The Panthers-Cowboys game on "MNF" drew a 17.6/30
     national rating (WASHINGTON POST, 12/11) "did its
     best to expunge all record" of former Warrior Latrell
     Sprewell from its site when he was suspended.
     programming coordinator Daria DeBuono: "It doesn't always
     happen that quickly.  We happened to be on top of that one." 
     The Warriors' official home page, hosted by, "didn't
     just erase his bio page, but took him out of the official
     team stats" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 12/10)....DETAILS reviews
     ESPN's "SportsCenter" in its "The Good, The Bad, And The
     Inexplicable Meter": "It naps without [Keith] Olbermann's
     snaps.  Bad jokes, no personality ... why stay up late when
     you can watch your local sportscaster?" (DETAILS, 12/97). 

          NBC CEO Bob Wright said yesterday at the PaineWebber
     Media Conference in New York that NBC will post profits this
     year of $1.1-1.2B, up from $953M last year, according to
     Collier & Battaglio of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.  But Wright
     said that there is a limit on how much the network will pay
     to retain rights to the NFL's AFC package: "Everything has a
     price."  Later during the conference, CBS CFO Fred Reynolds
     discussed the NFL TV talks: "While we're interested, I don't
     see the incumbents giving that up" (HOLLY. REPORTER, 12/11). 
          TURNER IN CA: At the Western Cable Show in CA, TCI
     President Leo Hindery said the "sun has set" on the growth
     of the DBS industry "and that there will be no more big
     entertainment deals such as the Disney/ABC and Time
     Warner/Turner mergers," according to Scott Hettrick of the
     HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.  But Time Warner Vice Chair Ted Turner
     said, "There will be more big deals."  Turner, noting the
     restructuring at TCI this year: "It may turn out at some
     point in the future that these big companies like Time
     Warner and Disney are too big and unwieldy" (HOLLYWOOD
     REPORTER, 12/11).  Turner and his wife, Jane Fonda, were
     interviewed on "PrimeTime Live" by ABC's Sam Donaldson. 
     Turner, on Rupert Murdoch: "He doesn't have much in the way
     of principles. ... You can have a lot of stuff and not have
     principles."  Turner, after Donaldson noted that Murdoch
     owns the Dodgers: "He doesn't have them yet.  I mean, it's
     got to be voted on by the owners" (ABC, 12/10).

          NBC and the U.S. Golf Association (USGA) have agreed to
     a new four-year TV contract extension beginning in 2000,
     which keeps the U.S. Open on NBC through 2003.  Under the
     new deal, NBC will continue to retain exclusive U.S.
     broadcast rights to the U.S. Open, the U.S. Women's Open,
     the U.S. Senior Open and the U.S. Amateur championships. 
     NBC will also continue to produce its U.S. Open Preview and
     annual Year in Review shows.  NBC's current deal with the
     USGA began in '95 and runs through '99 (NBC Sports).  In
     N.Y., Richard Sandomir reports that the new contract will
     cost NBC about $18M a year (N.Y. TIMES, 12/11).