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Volume 24 No. 115

Sports Media

          The reputation rehabilitation of former CBS golf
     broadcaster Ben Wright "is moving along nicely," according
     to "The Forecaddie" in GOLFWEEK.  Wright signed a book deal
     with Sleeping Bear Press to write his autobiography, and
     "word is circulating that Wright," who was suspended by CBS
     in December '95 after "insensitive remarks about women
     golfers were attributed to him, is drawing interest from
     other TV entities."  Wright's CBS contract is up at the end
     of the year, but no deals are "imminent" (GOLFWEEK, 5/9).

          ESPN is "ready to try to get cable systems that don't
     carry ESPN2 to carry" three "disputed" MLB Sunday night
     games that conflict with its NFL coverage, according to
     sources of DAILY VARIETY's John Dempsey.  ESPN would target
     "local-origination channels" to bring Sunday's MLB audience
     total "closer" to ESPN's 74 million subscribers.  Currently,
     ESPN2 has 57 million subscribers and MLB has reportedly
     objected to games being aired on the Deuce due to lower
     viewership numbers.  But an ESPN spokesperson said, "That's
     a misconception about the strength of ESPN2.  We expect the
     network to be in 60-million homes by September, and ESPN2
     has delivered a sizeable audience for big games."  Dempsey
     writes that MLB "is holding out the possibility" of taking
     the three games to another cable network, with TNT a
     possibility (DAILY VARIETY, 5/12).  ESPN VP/Communications
     Chris LaPlaca said ESPN "would frown on that concept, but we
     are open to discussions regarding additional distribution of
     our production of those three games," including being
     televised by home market stations (USA TODAY, 5/12).  
          WHAT TO DO? NEWSDAY's Steve Zipay: "ESPN is in a bind. 
     It can't afford to lose baseball, the only major live sport
     in June, July and August.  There's nothing else but soccer
     and the WNBA."  The "likeliest" scenario is that ESPN sub-
     leases the three MLB games to Turner Sports (NEWSDAY, 5/12).

          ANALYSTS REVIEWS: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes that
     NBC's NBA analyst Isiah Thomas "believes his rookie problems
     are mostly in the past, and that being paired with [Doug]
     Collins has accelerated his progress."  Sandomir also writes
     that it took until Saturday's Pacers-Knicks Game Three for
     Collins and Thomas "to sound effective as a team" (N.Y.
     TIMES, 5/12).  Also in N.Y., Bob Raissman writes that NBC's
     Matt Guokas, who teamed with Mike Breen for Sunday's Pacers-
     Knicks Game Four, "excelled in a frenetic game in which his
     analytical skills were put to the test" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS,
     5/12).  In Baltimore, Milton Kent writes that Turner's Kenny
     Smith "has emerged in just a few weeks as the best NBA
     studio analyst working" (Baltimore SUN, 5/12).  
          OTHER NOTES: With an October launch approaching, CTV
     Sports Net is profiled by Robert Macleod of the Toronto
     GLOBE & MAIL.  CTV VP/Sports Doug Beeforth said that there's
     "still plenty of programming holes to be filled" (GLOBE &
     MAIL, 5/12)....Home Team Sports' decision to air both the
     Orioles' game and the Capitals' playoff game last night
     "created confusion among area viewers who could not locate
     one of the two events on their cable system."  Wednesday's
     Capitals and Orioles games are also scheduled to be aired by
     HTS, and the net will provide an updated list of the proper
     channels for each game (WASHINGTON POST, 5/12)....Hornets F
     Anthony Mason "took off his microphone and left" just before
     the scheduled taping of ESPN's "Up Close" on Monday.  Mason,
     who had been asked by host Chris Myers about pending
     statutory rape charges: "People keep asking about stuff I've
     told them I can't talk about." Sources "familiar with ground
     rules" for the interview said that ESPN had "agreed not to
     bring up the issue" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/12)....Times
     Mirror Magazines "has green-lighted" a new men's magazine
     called Outdoor Explorer and has hired SI Senior Editor Steve
     Madden to serve as Editor of the title.  In N.Y., Keith
     Kelly writes, "Insiders said the company ultimately plans to
     bring the magazine out eight times a year with a circulation
     of a half-million" (Keith Kelly, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/12).