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Volume 24 No. 156

Sports Media

          CBS college basketball analyst Billy Packer criticized
     CBS's "60 Minutes" for its recent segments on college
     basketball, with much of his remarks relating to Mike
     Wallace's examination of the Frenso State program which
     aired March 15.  Packer told Larry Stewart of the L.A.
     TIMES: "'60 Minutes' is a cancer in our organization, and
     you can quote me on that.  I don't care how much money they
     bring in. ... They've done four college basketball stories
     around NCAA tournament time, and they always look for the
     most negative thing they can find.  They go in with a
     preconceived plan and stay on the story until they get what
     they want.  About 99% of college basketball is positive, and
     they look for the 1% that is negative.  I'll tell you, I
     wouldn't want to find them on my team in a foxhole." 
     Packer: "[T]hey spent three days on a story that bastardized
     the University of Louisville and Denny Crum and they had
     Leslie Stahl do a story on sneakers.  Leslie Stahl wouldn't
     know a sneaker if she saw one" (L.A. TIMES, 3/20).
          WALLACE'S RESPONSE: CBS's Mike Wallace responded to
     Packer's comments: "Although I've never met him, I'm sure
     Billy Packer is a fine fellow. ... I believe our report on
     the Bulldogs was a fair one."  As for Frenso State coach
     Jerry Tarkanian, Wallace said, "I actually like the man, and
     he is accurate when he says I told him he wouldn't be
     disappointed in the piece.  But that was before we got very
     deep into the story.  As it developed, I mean, what could we
     do?" (L.A. TIMES, 3/20).  In L.A., columnist Tim Kawakami
     called Packer's comments "sadly revealing -- about Packer
     and CBS. ... '60 Minutes' is the best hour of journalistic
     story-telling ... on TV.  Granted, it is sometimes naive
     when it reports on sports issues, but it is always brave and
     the reporting is usually indefatigable" (L.A. TIMES, 3/21).

          CBS'S NCAA MEN'S TOURNAMENT COVERAGE: CBS Sports
     President Sean McManus said CBS, in conjunction with the
     NCAA, is "exploring the long-term benefits of possibly
     providing out-of-market games as the NFL does on DirecTV's
     'NFL Sunday Ticket'" for the NCAA tourney.  USA TODAY's Rudy
     Martzke writes that PPV games may be available by the 2000
     Tournament, with CBS making all games in the first and
     second weekend available in a package for $69 or $79 (USA
     TODAY, 3/23).  In N.Y., Phil Mushnick calls CBS's Tournament
     coverage the "best logistical work in the 16 years it has
     owned the rights" (N.Y. POST, 3/23).  But in Boston, Howard
     Manly wrote that studio analyst Dean Smith "is not an asset
     on the air.  For one thing, his Southern storytelling style
     does not fit today's sound-bite world" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/22).
          WHITHER ESPN TOWN HALL? While a White House
     spokesperson said last week that a Presidential Town Hall
     meeting focusing on race and sports would be held April 14
     in Houston, an ESPN spokesperson said Sunday "that while the
     idea had been discussed, neither the date nor the site has
     been set in stone" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/23).  Charles
     Barkley, on the meeting that will focus on race and sports:
     "I find that racist in its own right.  The black people
     can't do anything but sports?" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/21).
          OTHER NOTES: The IOC's new TV deal with the CBC/TSN,
     from 2000-2008, "marks the first time the IOC has handed a
     Canadian broadcaster rights to a series of Olympic games
     under a multiyear deal.  Previously, rights were sold on a
     Games-by-Games basis" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 3/23)....MSG
     Network and Fox Sports NY have a toll-free number (1-888-
     6743769) that viewers can call to locate their teams on
     nights when multiple games are being telecast (N.Y. POST,
     3/23)....Reggie White is being considered for a studio
     analyst position with CBS (MIL. JOURNAL SENTINEL, 3/22).

          Despite denials by USA Network, sources said the cable
     network will "drop its long-running" weekly boxing series,
     "Tuesday Night Fights," later this year, according to Royce
     Feour of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL.  USA Network
     spokesperson David Schwarz called it a "pure rumor."  But
     boxing industry sources, including Top Rank promotor Bob
     Arum, said the network will drop its boxing coverage in
     August.  Arum said that the series' possible demise makes
     Monday night's Fox-televised card "even more important for
     boxing."  Arum said that Fox "might enter" a contract with
     Top Rank for several boxing cards per year, "particularly if
     the first card is a success" (L.V. REVIEW-JOURNAL, 3/22).
          OH, OSCAR! Fox took out ads for tonight's "Oscar De La
     Hoya's Big Fight Night," up against ABC's Academy Awards
     telecast, in today's sports sections of USA Today and N.Y.
     Post reading: "Tonight, It's Oscar's Night on FOX."