Sources have "downplayed" the reported interest of Al Jazeera in purchasing the Tennis Channel, but if there is some truth to it the company "might want to keep its wallet closed" until the Tennis Channel-Comcast legal battle plays out, according to Joe Flint of the L.A. TIMES. Tennis Channel is "waiting for word from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit about the fate of an order" from the FCC that "could be crucial to the channel's future." The FCC last year said that Comcast had discriminated against Tennis Channel "by not making it available to the same number of its subscribers who receive Golf Channel and NBC Sports Network." Comcast "appealed the FCC's order and a ruling is expected in the coming months." Tennis Channel, which is "currently in 35 million homes," could get a "boost of 20 million more homes by getting carriage on all of Comcast's systems." That would "greatly increase its value." But if the court "sides with Comcast, then Tennis Channel's efforts to expand will have been severely hampered." Whether that will "be enough to turn off the deep-pocketed" Al Jazeera "remains to be seen" (LATIMES.com, 4/23).
LIP SERVICE: SI.com's Bruce Jenkins wrote the ATP Monte Carlo Rolex Masters is "one of the most prestigious events on the men's tour," and Sunday's final, which aired on ESPN3, "was nothing short of a dream" with Rafael Nadal playing Novak Djokovic. But during ESPN's "entire prime-time 'SportsCenter' -- 90 minutes' worth," there was "nothing" about the event. Jenkins: "Nary a clip, nor even the score. As the anchors signed off, with time only for a few short comments in passing, one of them mentioned that Djokovic had ended Nadal's eight-year command of the tournament" (SI.com, 4/23).
Bob Socci is the "new play-by-play voice for Patriots broadcasts" on Boston-based WBZ-FM, according to Chad Finn of the BOSTON GLOBE. Socci replaces Gil Santos, who retired after last season. Socci has "called Navy football games on the radio for the past 16 years." He also is the "lead voice for Patriot League college basketball broadcasts on the CBS Sports Network and is in his first season as one of the two radio voices" of the Triple-A Int'l League Pawtucket Red Sox. Socci will be "paired with analyst Scott Zolak, who will be entering his third season as part of the Patriots broadcast team." Socci interviewed at the station Feb. 15 but "did not have a formal audition with Zolak." Socci will "leave the PawSox job" July 1 (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/25). PawSox President Mike Tamburro said, "It’s a remarkable opportunity for Bob and I know (landing the Pats’ gig) is something that’s been a lifelong goal. When an opportunity like this comes along, you applaud, and that’s what we’re doing." In Massachusetts, Brendan McGair notes Socci already is "thinking about the difficulties of replacing a local broadcasting legend." His New England roots have "a lot to do with his high level of appreciation for the work of his predecessor." Socci said, "I have tremendous reverence for the legacy that exists, but Scott and I are going to work to create our own and build on the one that exists." While Socci is "technically an employee" of WBZ, he was "still subject to approval from the Patriots" (PAWTUCKET TIMES, 4/25).
SI.com's Nick Zaccardi reported Gold Medal-winning U.S. speedskater Apolo Ohno will be "a correspondent for NBC" during the net's coverage of the '14 Sochi Games. Ohno acknowledged that it "effectively ends any chance of a short-track speedskating comeback." He said, "It's time to try some different opportunities." Ohno recently "finished four weeks of filming as a host for Game Show Network's 'Minute to Win it,' which will air its first season beginning in June" (SI.com, 4/24).
TEE TO GREEN: GOLFWEEK's Forecaddie notes Rich Beem "dipped his toes in the broadcasting waters for eight days after the Masters, doing several Golf Channel shows." He said that he "enjoyed the work and hopes his playful schtick sticks because he'd like to launch into a TV career." Beem: "I'd give my clubs away, no problem. I had a ton of fun doing this. I'm pumped. But I realize I have a long way to go" (GOLFWEEK, 4/26 issue).
OFFSIDE CALL? In Salt Lake City, Scott Pierce wrote NBC's decision to transition MLS announcer Arlo White to EPL coverage next season is "ridiculous," and the company is only doing so "because he's a Brit." White is "at best, repetitive," and "at worst, he sometimes seems utterly clueless." MLS Real Salt Lake announcer Bill Riley "calls a better game" on local TV than White does on NBC Sports Network. Pierce wrote, "Of course, the local productions of MLS games are better than most of NBCSN's national games, too." That is "sort of scary when you think that NBC will be the American home" of the EPL beginning in '14 (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 4/24).
REPORTING FOR DUTY: The Boston Globe on Tuesday "officially hired Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post as the replacement" for Greg Bedard, who is departing for SI's new football site led by Peter King (BOSTONSPORTSMEDIA.com, 4/24)....Former MASN and WJZ-FM reporter Jen Royle has "landed a weekend show" on WEEI-FM. Royle, who "used social media as well as anyone in Baltimore radio or TV to stir the pot" on sports issues, was "nothing if not a controversial figure" in the market (BALTIMORESUN.com, 4/23)....Columbia Tribune writer Dave Matter yesterday on his Twitter feed wrote, "I'll be joining the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in May to take over the #Mizzou athletics beat" (TWITTER.com, 4/24).