As if NBC didn't have enough trouble selling its TripleCast -- the $125, three-channel, pay-per-view, oh-my-gosh-I-can't-miss-a-minute-of-the-Olympics package -- along comes the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs.
Yesterday, the department served notices of violation under the New York City Consumer Protection Law on NBC and Cablevision, partners in the TripleCast, The Associated Press reported. The city charges deceptive advertising. TripleCast ads, the department says, don't say that events after 5 p.m. will be taped replays.
The TripleCast schedule calls for live programming from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m., then replays until 5 a.m. the next day. Because Barcelona, Spain, is six hours ahead of American Eastern time, most events will take place during 5 a.m.-5 p.m. here.
In a statement, NBC said it had "repeatedly said in news conferences, interviews and in its promotional material" that live telecasts would take place 5 a.m.-5 p.m. "We have never said or implied there would be any live presentation of the Olympics in prime time, either on the TripleCast or the broadcast. In order to show something live, by definition it has to be telecast when the event is occurring."
So there. And if the department is so concerned about deceptive claims, why hasn't it been down at Madison Square Garden, taping some of those speeches at the Democratic convention?
Deception or no deception, I'm already on record as being against the TripleCast -- that record, a single called "I Got Them Pay-Per-View Blues" b/w "Volare," is available through K-Tel Records.
If enough people buy the TripleCast, it only will encourage more pay-per-view telecasts, encroaching on the number of events available through network and cable sources.
Step up to the mike
"Voices of the Game," the encyclopedic history of baseball broadcasting by White House speech writer Curt Smith, has been reissued in paperback by Simon & Shuster. The 623-page book ($15) has been updated with four new chapters.
Smith devotes much of the updated section to attacking Major League Baseball and CBS for the deal that killed "The Game of the Week." He's right to lament the passing of that Saturday staple, now relegated to 16 telecasts -- when baseball doesn't conflict with the Eat at Joe's Dagsboro Open and Turkey Shoot or other corporate-titled golf tournaments that pay their own way.
Without baseball, Smith would argue, we are less American. In fact, he might say, as his boss once did -- or, who knows, as he once had his boss say -- it's part of a kinder, gentler America.
Not so kind and gentle is a passage in which Smith takes the lead for Worst Simile of the Year. Speaking of having network Sunday games, he writes: "To renew baseball as a network TV sport is the bigs' first priority . . . because, like Saigon in April 1975 [italics mine, you just add water], Sunday afternoon lies unoccupied, the major leagues should plant their each-weekly flag atop a Sabbath network series." Just another Saigon Sunday?
My favorite part of the book, though, is when Smith quotes big-time Sun columnist Mike Littwin. Except Smith calls him Larry Littwin. Hey, Mike, maybe if you wore a sweater instead of that flannel shirt for your picture, your name would come out right.
Slights to Littwin aside -- however, the more the better, I always say -- and though the reader must slog through some swampy sentences and swallow conservative musings while ingesting the history, "Voices of the Game" is a must for a serious baseball fan's bookshelf.
Start me up
The boss called me in.
"How you doing today?" he asked.
"Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name," I replied.
"You've seemed depressed lately. Something bothering you?" he said.
"I can't get no satisfaction," I said.
"I heard you were doing some home-improvement work. What are you doing?" he said.
"I see a red door, and I want to paint it black," I said.
"You didn't happen to see that Rolling Stones movie at the Imax theater recently, did you?" he asked.
"Yes, how did you know?" I said.
Things my boss wants to know
In tomorrow's Suburban Handicap on ABC (4:30 p.m.), do the horses cut the grass while they run? . . . Is it best not to take a bath during showings of ESPN's "Saturday Night Thunder"? . . . If you start watching the NationsBank Classic tennis tournament and switch it off before the finish, is there a penalty for early withdrawal?