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Volume 24 No. 114

Sports Media

          BROADCASTING & CABLE features its annual TV Sports
     Special and looks at sports programming and production in a
     number of separate stories.  B&C's Joe Schlosser reports on
     CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN's attempts to sell advertising for
     the new $17.6B NFL TV package, and writes, "In the long run,
     some Wall Street observers say, those high-priced contracts
     may spell financial trouble.  And analysts and ad buyers who
     criticized NBC (which broadcast the games for 30 years), for
     dropping out of the bidding now praise that decision."  Some
     advertisers predict "that the networks will try to
     renegotiate their deals with the NFL after suffering early
     losses."  Tom DeCabia, Senior VP at Paul Schulman Co.: "I
     think you are going to see after three years that they are
     going to want desperately to renegotiate."  Other highlights
     of B&C's TV Sports Special: Fox TV Chair/News Corp. co-COO
     Chase Carey is interviewed in a Q&A and says that Fox Sports
     would like a greater presence in FL.  He added that while
     this past NHL season has been "disappointing," the network
     "is committed" to the league.  In regards to the NFL, Carey
     said that while Fox did take a $350M write-off after
     acquiring league rights in '94, "we expect ourselves to be
     whole against" the current NFL contract.  B&C also examines
     the state of TV sports production and new technology used
     for sports broadcasts, including virtual signage, lipstick
     cameras, SporTVision technology and ESPN's bat track, among
     just a few of the innovations (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 6/22).
     

          OH cable operator Bob Gessner "thinks he's found a way
     to control his sports programming costs" and plans to "start
     a friendly bidding competition between ESPN and Fox Sports
     Ohio [FSO]," according to Steve Donohue of ELECTRONIC MEDIA. 
     The network with the lower carriage fee will remain on the
     basic tier of Gessner's 45,000-subscriber system, with the
     other going to a new sports tier that would require
     customers to pay an additional cost.  Gessner: "Since they
     (Fox and ESPN) love competition so much, let them compete
     for our basic subs."  Massillon Cable will launch a PR
     campaign "if it decides" to go ahead with its plan and will
     notify subscribers of the proposal.  Massillon "would likely
     charge about $5 per month for the network that gets bumped
     off of its basic tier."  Donohue: "Not surprisingly, both
     ESPN and Fox Sports executives said they oppose Massillon's
     plan."  ESPN said that its contracts "require" that the net
     be carried on basic cable.  Fox Sports Senior VP/Media
     Relations Vince Wladika: "Tiering is as unacceptable to us
     as it is for ESPN."  Gessner said that FSO "is a cheaper
     service," but declined to specify how much he pays for
     either FSO or ESPN.  Donohue reports that subscriber fees
     for Fox generally run from $.60 to $1.20 per subscriber,
     while ESPN, which is upping its fee by 20% to help pay for
     its NFL contract, will cost cable operators "an average
     $1.07 per subscriber" (ELECTRONIC MEDIA, 6/22 issue). 
          TIME IS ON ITS SIDE? In Sunday's BOSTON GLOBE, Howard
     Manly reviewed FSN's "Fox Sports News," and wrote that it
     gives viewers "a credible show an hour earlier than" ESPN's
     "SportsCenter" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/21). 

          RATINGS: In Boston, Howard Manly writes that NBC's U.S.
     Open coverage "was great, and even the network couldn't have
     scripted a better ending than Lee Janzen's five-stroke
     comeback to beat Payne Stewart."  Manly calls NBC's ratings
     "solid," noting that the 5.9 two-day average was second-best
     since '89, but down 18% from last year's 7.2 (BOSTON GLOBE,
     6/23)....In Houston, the WNBA Comets' first game on KHTV on
     Sunday earned a 5.8/10, down from last year's debut, which
     received a 9.0/14 (David Barron, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 6/23).
          NOTES: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes that the Yankees-
     Mets interleague series finale will only be aired on ESPN
     and not seen on a local broadcast outlet: "When it
     negotiates its next cable-TV contract, MLB should seek a
     provision where interleague games must be aired on free TV
     in the markets of the participating teams" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS,
     6/23)....The Packers' radio broadcast team of Jim Irwin and
     Max McGee announced that they will both retire at the end of
     the '98 season (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 6/23).

          The NBA and ESPN Internet Group reached a multi-year
     agreement in which they will continue to co-produce NBA.com,
     the NBA's official Web site.  NBA.com's content will be
     linked to related features on ESPN SportsZone, and the two
     will work to cross-promote each other's content (NBA). 
     BLOOMBERG BUSINESS NEWS' Scott Newman reports that the
     agreement "comes as competition for rights to sports
     Internet sites are at all-time highs."  While the NFL
     received $10M for its three-year deal with ESPN, Jupiter
     Communications analyst Patrick Keane said that the NBA
     "probably didn't receive as much."  NBA President/TV and New
     Media Ventures Ed Desser "wouldn't comment on the terms" of
     the multi-year agreement (BLOOMBERG BUSINESS NEWS, 6/23).
          SPORTSLINE'S NEW LOOK: CBS SportsLine launches its
     redesigned Web site today, and SportsLine USA President &
     CEO Michael Levy tells browsers that two improved areas of
     the site are "speed and navigation," as well as "faster,
     easier paths" to SportsLine's content, promos, merchandise,
     fantasy products and other features.  Levy: "As a result,
     the 'new' CBS SportsLine reflects design and technical
     improvements to ensure quicker page downloads" (THE DAILY).
     

          Street & Smith's Sports Group announced today that it
     will publish Street & Smith's Black College Football, a new
     sports annual.  The inaugural issue, which will be marketed
     by Street & Smith's and the Historically Black Collegiate
     Coalition, will launch in early September.  The annual will
     preview the 38 teams in four conferences (MEAC, SWAC, CIAA
     and SIAC) and the five independent teams.  Other planned
     features include the Black College All-Pro Team, Top Black
     Colleges Pros, Top Pro Prospects, Greats From the Past,
     Black College All-Americas and a special feature on former
     Grambling head coach Eddie Robinson.  Advertisers already
     committed to the title include McDonald's, U.S. Army,
     Wittnauer, U.S. Marines, USPS, Burger King and National Car
     Rental.  Street & Smith's Sports Group also publishes THE
     SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY (Street & Smith's).