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Volume 24 No. 160

Sports Media

          Conde Nast Sports for Women next month will take the
     name of the recently acquired 200,000-circulation Women's
     Sports & Fitness (WS&F), according to Lisa Granatstein of
     MEDIAWEEK.  Conde Nast says that the name change "reflects
     the book's focus on healthy, active lifestyle through both
     sports and fitness."  But Granatstein reports that the move
     "also represents a step back from the company's recent
     penchant for attaching its name to the titles of some of its
     books."  The words "Conde Nast" will appear on WS&F's spine,
     and Conde Nast "hopes the name change will also help clear
     up where the title should be placed on newsstands," moving
     it away from traditional men's sports titles.  Granatstein
     reports that following the June issue, due May 12, Conde
     Nast "will scale the title back from monthly to six per year
     and print on heavier stock" (MEDIAWEEK, 4/27 issue).
 

          The NBA and NHL playoffs dominated this past weekend's     TV sports coverage.  USA TODAY reports that Fox's NHL     regional action on Sunday averaged a 2.3, down 8% from '97,     while ESPN's ratings fell 38% to a .5 and ESPN2's "tumbled"     29%, also to .5, for the first three nights of the playoffs     (USA TODAY, 4/28).  In DC, Leonard Shapiro examines Fox's     coverage of Sunday's Capitals-Bruins game under the header,     "Upon Further Review, Fox, NHL, Got It Right."  Shapiro     writes that "for the most part, Fox provided an ...     outstanding broadcast, particularly on the production end."      He adds that viewers "were shown fabulous camera angles and     replays galore," and notes that Fox's "ability to put     microphones all over ... enhanced the coverage" (WASHINGTON     POST, 4/28).  In Boston, Jim Greenidge reports that Sunday's     Caps-Bruins game earned Fox's best-ever numbers in that     market, posting an 8.2/17.  The rating peaked at 9.1 during     the second overtime (Jim Greenidge, BOSTON GLOBE, 4/28).          NBA ACTION: USA TODAY's reports that NBC's weekend     playoff ratings dipped 6% to a 6.7.  While Sunday's rating     was "about even" with the '97 number, Saturday's number     dropped 12%.  TNT's Thursday/Friday NBA coverage jumped 21%     from '97, to a 2.3 from 1.9 (USA TODAY, 4/28).  In Houston,     David Barron writes that TNT's 2.9 rating for Rockets-Jazz     Game One on Thursday is its highest number so far.      Saturday's Game Two of the Rockets-Jazz earned an 11.7/22     local rating on Houston's KHTV (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 4/28).      In N.Y., Richard Sandomir reviews NBC's pairing of Doug     Collins and Isiah Thomas on its No. 1 NBA broadcast team,     calling it "flawed."  Thomas, writes Sandomir, "has improved     since his awkward start ... [b]ut [he] is not a No. 1     analyst, and no one should have expected him to be."  Noting     that Collins was hired "because he became the best NBA     analyst" at TNT, Sandomir asks, "Why hire the best only to     make him split time with a rookie?" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/28).           CATCH AIR: Turner Sports will unveil the new     SporTVision System technology, which measures a player's     vertical leap, during tonight's Heat-Knicks broadcast from     MSG.  Turner will also use the measuring system, known as     AIRf/x, on tomorrow's Nets-Bulls game (SporTVision).

          Fox Sports "will wade into the crowded sports-magazine
     waters" in a joint venture with Petersen Publishing Co.,
     according to Jensen & Kerwin of AD AGE.  Fox and Petersen
     will produce the "Fox Sports NFL '98 Preview" insert, which
     "could be the first step toward developing a sports magazine
     to go up against" SI and ESPN.  The football preview insert
     will be distributed through seven Petersen titles, including
     Four Wheel & Off Road, Hot Rod, Motor Trend, Motorcyclist,
     Mountain Biker, Petersen's Sport Truck and Sport.  Total
     circulation will be about 4 million.  The insert will have
     36 pages, includes "at least" 10 ad pages.  Fox Sports
     Senior VP/Marketing Neal Tiles said that the venture is
     being viewed as "a promotional platform for Fox Sports," and
     is "a way to think about a strategic partnership" with
     Petersen.  Tiles: "We are testing the waters."  Jensen &
     Kerwin add that "most likely, the joint venture next will
     create similar preview publications tied to the network's
     other sports properties, specifically" baseball and hockey. 
     The NFL content will feature Fox personalities such as Howie
     Long and John Madden (AD AGE, 4/27 issue).

          CITIES OF ANGELS: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir notes the
     frequency of Angels' telecasts on Disney-parent ESPN's MLB
     action this season, pointing out that following its upcoming
     broadcast of the Angels-White Sox game on May 3, ESPN will
     have carried five Angels games this season, two more than
     any other team.  Sandomir writes that with Disney holding
     controlling interest in the Angels and ESPN, "it's easy to
     label this a conspiracy."  But ESPN VP/Communications Chris
     LaPlaca said, "There is no shadowy programmer on the grassy
     knoll.  Even Oliver Stone would have a hard time making
     something out of this" (Richard Sandomir, N.Y. TIMES, 4/28).
          NOTES: In Cincinnati, John Fay wrote that no decision
     has been made on whether Pete Rose will get a bigger role on
     FSN's "The Last Word" following his stint as co-host last
     week, but added that Rose's "gig probably earned him strong
     consideration" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 4/27)....More turnover
     at the N.Y. Daily News sports dept. after Frank Brown left
     to work for the NHL.  Daily News Sunday Sports Editor Dave
     Kaplan "will soon leave" for the Yogi Berra Museum.  Also,
     Assistant Sports Editor Eric Gerard and Associate Sports
     Editor Anthony Rieber are "both leaving" the paper for
     journalism jobs outside NYC (CRAIN'S NEW YORK BUSINESS,
     4/27)....VARIETY's Rich Katz reports that the dispute
     between the NFL and CBS and Fox over the nets' stations
     being barred from using NFL clips in Sunday night highlight
     shows "will be resolved amicably this week."  The compromise
     reportedly allows "limited highlights in select markets of
     the home team's games," and sources said that it "satisfies"
     all parties concerned (VARIETY, 4/27 issue).

          ABC Religion Correspondent Peggy Wehmeyer interviewed
     Packers DE Reggie White on "20/20," one of only a few
     interviews since his controversial speech earlier this month
     to the WI Legislature.  White, on how the speech affected
     his chances of working for CBS Sports: "I lost my
     opportunity to work at CBS.  They don't want me to work for
     them.  Praise god."  Wehmeyer reported White said that "a
     contract with the network was virtually a done deal," and
     after the speech, CBS Sports President Sean McManus
     "canceled, saying he didn't want to have to deal with
     disruptions from gay militants."  White: "That don't make me
     mad.  I'm angry because what I said [about homosexuals] was
     the truth."  CBS issued a statement regarding White saying
     it "hadn't finalized an agreement" with him and that the
     decision not to hire him had nothing to do with "influences
     from any special interest groups" (ABC, 4/27).