The ABL "is close to a time-buy deal with UPN" that
would bring the league "some needed national exposure,"
according to Terry Lefton of BRANDWEEK. UPN would put the
games on Saturday afternoons. ABL CEO Gary Cavalli "would
neither confirm, nor comment on the negotiations." In
addition, the ABL "is seeking additional exposure for its
upcoming season through an ad hoc network of PBS stations
that would air ABL games for little or no charge." The ABL
was on BET and Fox Sports Net last year (BRANDWEEK, 6/29).
Cavalli is quoted in the HARTFORD COURANT as saying, "We're
very close to a TV deal. We'll hope to announce something
in two to four weeks." The league had "tried to induce Fox
to buy a broadcast-partial ownership package, which the
network turned down." Fox Sports Senior VP/Media Relations
Vince Wladika: "They've come to us three times with a
prospectus and we've told them no" (HARTFORD COURANT, 6/30).
ESPN's decision to let reporter Bonnie Bernstein get
out of her contract to sign with CBS has enabled the network
to "obtain more access for its reporters on NFL games
covered by CBS," according to Leonard Shapiro of the
WASHINGTON POST. Sources say that CBS has "agreed to allow
ESPN to broadcast live from NFL stadiums for an additional
30 minutes on game days" as part of the deal to land
Bernstein. Under NFL rules, no live broadcasts are allowed
an hour before kickoff expect on the net that owns the
rights to that game. ESPN and CBS spokespeople "declined
comment on Bernstein's contract" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/30).
RATINGS: Not including last weekend's coverage, CBS's
first-year ratings for its PBA telecasts were averaging a
1.6, compared to the 1.9 earned last year by ABC. CBS
Sports President Sean McManus called the debut season a
"tremendous success." The net has extended its deal through
2000 (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 6/30)....Friday night's Yankees-
Mets game on WWOR-TV earned an 11.9/19 -- the highest-rated
Mets game on the station since '89 (N.Y. POST, 6/30).
OTHER NOTES: HBO extended its deal with Lennox Lewis
for six fights, but Michael Katz of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS
reports the deal would provide "no window" for Lewis to
fight Evander Holyfield on Showtime (N.Y. DAILY NEWS,
6/30)....The Bonham Group President & CEO Dean Bonham began
writing a biweekly sports business column in the Rocky
Mountain News (THE DAILY)....Young Broadcasting, which
bought L.A.'s KCAL-TV in '96, "may turn around and sell it
along with its stable of 11 other stations." KCAL holds
broadcast rights to the Lakers (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 6/30).