In St. Petersburg, Pete Dougherty noted Time Warner "issued a response to MSG's statement released Friday night concerning the carriage dispute between the companies." The current agreement expires Dec. 31. The response read in part, "MSG wants a 53 percent increase in the price we currently pay. We buy sports all over the country, and a 53 percent increase is way out of line. ... We were close to an agreement for a 6.5 percent increase in the price we pay for MSG, but MSG inexplicably reneged on that offer two weeks ago, and they continue to demand that we pay millions for the rarely watched FUSE network" (TIMESUNION.com, 12/17). Meanwhile, MSG took out an ad in the N.Y. Times to advertise Knicks coverage returning to the net (THE DAILY).
NETWORK RELIEF: The AP's David Bauder noted ESPN's news-making coverage this past week on Brewers LF Ryan Braun and "another alleged case of sexual abuse by a sports figure are a boost and, no doubt, relief to the network's journalists after a tough month." Critics "roughed up the sports network for its handling of abuse stories involving former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky and ex-Syracuse basketball assistant Bernie Fine." ESPN Senior VP & Dir of News Vince Doria said that as the "'big dog' in sports media, ESPN expects to get a lot of attention over how it handles stories." The net "hasn't hidden from openly discussing its role in their stories." Bauder noted the Bobby Dodd story "also indicates ESPN may have more opportunities to test itself on these types of issues" (AP, 12/17).
TWO-MAN SHOW: In Cleveland, Paul Hoynes noted the Indians will "use a two-man team in the radio booth in 2012 following the retirement of Mike Hegan at the end of last season." Tom Hamilton "signed a multiyear contract extension as he prepares for his 23rd season calling Indians games." Jim Rosenhaus, "starting his sixth year as part of the Tribe's radio team, will be Hamilton's partner." Rosenhaus has "spent the last five years being the producer/engineer for the Indians radio network" (CLEVELAND.com, 12/16). Meanwhile, in St. Petersburg, Marc Topkin reported Neil Solondz “will take over the Rays pre- and post-game radio duties.” Solondz, who “has been the radio play-by-play man at Triple-A Durham, replaces Rich Herrera, who was let go after the season” (TAMPABAY.com, 12/16).
INT'L GROWTH: DAILY VARIETY’s Anna Marie De La Fuente noted Fox Sports in February will launch a Portuguese-language channel, and the move means the network is “entering a relatively underserved pay TV market where ESPN, local net Sport TV and Fox-owned Speed are the only sports cable channels on offer.” Fox International Channels has also “bought out HM Capital Partner's majority stake in Fox Pan American Sports, the leading Spanish-language sports programming service in Latin America of which it previously owned a third.” This will “likely be renamed Fox Sports Latin America” (VARIETY.com, 12/16).