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."