Every radio and TV broadcaster for the 30 MLB teams "is
either paid by the club he or she covers or is hired with
that club's approval," according to Ted Rose, who examines
the relationship between teams and their announcers in
BRILL'S CONTENT magazine. Rose: "As a practical matter,
these broadcasters are not independent journalists but
conduits to the public for the team that directly or
indirectly employs them. ... What viewers and listeners may
not expect is that the boundaries for the ubiquitous on-air
discussions are often set by the teams, not the
broadcasters." Indians VP/PR Bob DiBiasio, on announcers
being a part of the team's marketing strategy: "What better
opportunity do you have to sell your image than when your
(team is) playing? You have a three-hour window to present
your product in the best way that you can" (CONTENT, 9/98).
CONTROLLING INVENTORY: Astros Dir of Broadcasting Jamie
Hildreth said the team helps decide what is discussed on-
air: "I don't want to hear players' salaries discussed ...
Let other people do that. Anything positive we can get out
in front of the public, I prefer them to accentuate."
Hildreth "believes fans aren't interested in negative
comments, such as speculation" in the past that the team
would move to VA. Hildreth: "I don't think they want to
hear that goop. Maybe I am wrong. If they want that, they
can pick up the papers and tune in to the talk shows."
Marlins broadcaster Dave O'Brien, who is paid by the team,
said he doesn't talk of the impending sale of the team.
O'Brien: "I'll almost never mention it. Until the sale
happens, I really don't think it's newsworthy." Yankees
radio voice Michael Kay, who has covered the team as a beat
reporter for both the N.Y. Post and Daily News, received a
championship ring from the team in '96, and was "clearly
uncomfortable about the post-season gift." Kay: "If I was
covering the Yankees in '96 as a writer for the Post or
News, I wouldn't get a ring" (BRILL'S CONTENT, 9/98 issue).
Six months after ESPN's "SportsCenter" ratings
"plummeted," ESPN Exec Editor John Walsh said that the show
"now has a larger audience than last year at this time,"
according to USA TODAY's Rudy Martzke. The show's 1.23
rating is up 7% from last year's 1.15, and "SportsCenter"
ratings "have jumped" 29% from the 0.95 in '98's first
quarter. CNN's "Sports Tonight" has remained at 0.3, while
FSN's "Fox Sports News" shows at 10:00pm and 11:00pm earn a
combined 0.9. Walsh said that the 6:30pm ET "SportsCenter"
is "beating Fox Sports News by five to six times." Walsh:
"What's real gratifying is that this tells us that Kenny
Mayne and Dan Patrick (11pm anchors) have checked out well
with the viewers. To say that Kenny and Danny's shows rate
higher than Dan and Keith Olbermann is pretty impressive."
Fox Sports Senior VP/Media Relations Vince Wladika noted
that FSN's rating has increased 50% in a year from 0.6 to
0.9. Wladika: "ESPN should be out-rating us. They've been
doing this for 19 years; us for two. We're concerned with
growing our Fox Sports News. They have an unhealthy
preoccupation with us. We are flattered they are devoting
this much attention to us" (Rudy Martzke, USA TODAY, 8/19).
NORTH & SOUTH: Ottawa Sports Radio (OSR-1200), the
area's first all-sports station, will launch next month.
OSR VP & GM Dianne Wilson: "It's going to be a guys-oriented
station. Our target is the 35-year-old guy, who probably
works in high-tech, and has children playing soccer and
hockey." The Senators recently signed a 10-year deal with
OSR, giving the station English broadcast rights. Wilson,
who said the station will "ride the Senators" interest as
much as possible, said, "If they go in the crapper, so do
we" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 8/18)....Winnipeg business exec Izzy
Asper announced a C$950M deal making his CanWest Global
Communications Corp. a national TV system. CanWest said it
will buy 11 TV stations currently owned by WIC Ltd., which
"propels CanWest ahead of rival network CTV" as the largest
privately owned Canadian broadcaster (GLOBE & MAIL, 8/19).
...Fox Sports South, the U.S.'s largest RSN, has reached the
seven million subscriber mark with the addition of Time
Warner Cable of Davidson County, NC (Fox Sports Southwest).
After "months of negotiations," MLB announced that
because ESPN "plans to bump its final three Sunday night
baseball games in September to ESPN2" in favor of NFL games,
MLB "has taken back the games and will return local
television rights to the six clubs involved," according to
Scott Hettrick of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. An MLB
spokesperson "said further action against ESPN, including a
suit, has not been ruled out." MLB President & COO Paul
Beeston: "These will be important and critical games in
September, and we are disappointed that ESPN has chosen not
to carry our games. ESPN2 was never an option. Our
contract specifies that Sunday games are to be on ESPN."
Hettrick reports that ESPN "might seek compensation for the
three lost baseball games." ESPN issued a statement saying
that MLB's action "violates our contract, which expressly
provides for pre-emption and distribution on ESPN2." The
three MLB games in question are September 6, Giants-Dodgers;
September 13, Cardinals-Astros; and September 20, Yankees-
Orioles (Scott Hettrick, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 8/19).
ESPN'S COVERAGE: Forty-one minutes into the 6:30pm ET
edition of "SportsCenter," ESPN's Larry Beil said: "Major
League Baseball today informed ESPN that it is withdrawing
three games scheduled for ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball
telecast in September, and is returning them to the
individual teams involved to make their own local television
arrangements." With less than 10 minutes remaining in the
11:00pm ET edition of "SportsCenter," ESPN's Steve Levy
reported the same announcement, and like Beil, read ESPN's
statement in its entirety ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 8/18). The
AP version of the MLB story is also displayed on the upper
right side of ESPN SportsZone under the header: "MLB Sacks
ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball In September" (THE DAILY).
Orlando ABC-TV affil WFTV, which is "committed" to
showing "Young America Outdoors" from 1:00-1:30pm ET on
Sunday -- the start time for the AFL's ArenaBowl, will move
the children's show to 9:00am and "risk the displeasure" of
the FCC, according to Jerry Greene of the ORLANDO SENTINEL.
The ArenaBowl features the Orlando Predators and the Tampa
Bay Storm, and will be seen "in its entirety" in the Orlando
area. WFTV Programming Dir Susan Adams Loyd: "We're running
a risk of being in violation (of FCC requirements for
children's programming), but we know Predator fans are both
passionate and loyal" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 8/19).
STORMING THE WEB: The ArenaBowl will be Webcast for the
first time, on CNNSI.com, along with broadcast.com.
Broadcast.com also will carry AFL Commissioner David Baker's
state of the league address on Sunday (AFL).