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Volume 24 No. 117

Sports Media

          AT&T announced this morning "it is buying cable giant
     TCI in a stock deal worth $48 billion," according to ABC's
     Asha Blake on "Good Morning America."  Blake: "What's in it
     for AT&T?  The ability to bring local phone service and
     Internet access to 40 million TCI customers" ("Good Morning
     America," ABC, 6/24).  In DC, Farhi & Mills report that the
     agreement merges "the nation's largest long-distance phone
     company and its second-largest cable TV concern."  The deal
     will offer "one-stop shopping to consumers for virtually all
     electronic services: long-distance and cellular phone calls,
     cable TV and high-speed Internet access."  Farhi & Mills add
     that "some in Congress already are expressing concern about
     the deal" (Farhi & Mills, WASHINGTON POST, 6/24).  
          SPORTS INTEREST: TCI jointly owns Fox/Liberty Networks,
     which includes 22 RSNs reaching about 60 million homes, in a
     partnership with News Corp.  TCI also owns a portion of MSG,
     the Knicks and NHL Rangers.  DAILY VARIETY's Martin Peers
     calls the deal "highly complicated," but reports that it
     "only covers the cable systems" and excludes TCI's Liberty
     programming arm and the TCI Ventures investment arm.  TCI
     Chair John Malone will reportedly retain control of Liberty
     Media, "an important point for Hollywood players like USA
     Networks Chair Barry Diller and News Corp. Chair Rupert
     Murdoch, "who are in business with Malone through Liberty"
     (DAILY VARIETY, 6/24).  USA TODAY's Rosenbush, Maney &
     Lieberman report that AT&T is "expected to spin off" Liberty
     Media and that Malone is "expected to leave the AT&T-TCI
     fold and run Liberty and TCI Ventures" (USA TODAY, 6/24). 
     The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Leslie Cauley reports that "local
     business appears to be one of the most attractive angles for
     AT&T," although it will "maintain an alliance" with TCI's
     programming arm (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/24).

          Fox Sports Southwest (FSSW) "threatened to pull the
     plug on" Marcus Cable's broadcast of last night's Rangers-
     D'Backs game "because of a contract dispute," according to
     Mark Couch of the FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM.  FSSW had "yanked
     the game" from Marcus' lineup late in the day "because
     Marcus wouldn't sign a new contract" to carry FSSW's
     programming.  Marcus, the largest cable provider in Tarrant
     County, TX, ran a blue screen apologizing to its customers,
     and continued to run the apology even after FSSW reinstated
     the game.  The game was back on the air at about 8:30pm
     local time, right around the first pitch.  Marcus' deal
     expired in December, and it has been paying expired rates
     for Rangers games.  FSSW VP & GM Jon Heidtke: "There comes a
     certain point where you can't continue to offer that unfair
     advantage to them."  Marcus Cable COO Lou Borrelli: "Never
     in my wildest dreams did I imagine that they would use our
     customers as a bargaining chip."  Rangers VP/Media Relations
     John Blake said the dispute was between FSSW and Marcus: "We
     have nothing to do with it" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 6/24). 
     Heidtke said that after the game returned, "Negotiations
     picked up. ... We hope they are concluded without any
     additional interruption" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 6/24).

          RATINGS: Phillies TV ratings on WPHL-WB "have jumped"
     43%, from an average of 3.0 in '97, to a 4.3 this season.
     Comcast SportsNet's Phillies games are averaging a 2.3, up
     60% from what PRISM averaged this time in '97 (PHILADELPHIA
     DAILY NEWS, 6/24)....TNT, "boosted by a few highly watched
     NBA playoff games," ended '98's second-quarter as the most-
     watched cable network in prime time, according to Nielsen
     figures.  The net averaged 1,717,000 homes, followed by
     Nickelodeon, TBS and Lifetime (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/24).
          NOTES: To celebrate the 50th anniversary of its 
     Indianapolis affil WRTV, ABC is allowing the station to
     broadcast the Brickyard 400 live for the first time on
     August 1.  Races held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway are
     generally blacked out in the local market, so as not to
     affect ticket sales (INDIANAPOLIS STAR-NEWS, 6/24)....CBS
     Sports reached a two-year extension with the PBA to
     broadcast 10 Tour events in '99 and 2000.  The events will
     be broadcast in an hour-long format, and are a joint venture
     between CBS Sports, the PBA and The Marquee Group (CBS
     Sports)....Raycom Sports will produce and televise two AVP
     tournaments in August.  Both events will be regionally
     syndicated (Raycom Sports)....The NBA and WNBA reached new
     deals with DIRECTV and Primestar to distribute "NBA League
     Pass" and "WNBA Season Pass" subscription service (NBA).