2nd sack: No local TV for 'Skins

ON THE AIR

October 14, 1994|By MILTON KENT

This has not been a great week for Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke, or at least not in the Baltimore metropolitan area.

First, his proposed stadium project got a big thumbs down from an Anne Arundel County planning official, and now his team is getting bounced off the Baltimore airwaves, but for only a week.

Channel 45 has opted to pass on Sunday's Arizona-Washington game from RFK Stadium, and will carry instead the 1 p.m. San Francisco-Atlanta game from the Georgia Dome for first place in the NFC West.

"Our obligation is to put on what we think is the best contest of the day," said Steve Marks, general manager of Channel 45. "I don't think anyone would argue that the San Francisco-Atlanta game is the better game."

From both a business and programming standpoint, it's hard to argue with Channel 45's decision, though the absence of a Redskins home game on Baltimore television is rare, so rare that no one at the NFL or at Channel 11, the former local NFC carrier, could remember such an occurrence.

Both the Redskins and the Cardinals stink, sporting a combined 2-9 record, and the station likely would take a ratings beating by carrying a game against two lousy teams while Channel 2 shows the attractive Miami Dolphins-Los Angeles Raiders at 1 p.m.

Those people who want to see the Redskins game, particularly in the southern end of the metro area, likely can tune it in on Washington's Channel 5 anyway. Besides, they'll be back on Channel 45 next Sunday when they travel to Indianapolis to play the other Colts.

Basketball by moonlight

At the stroke of midnight tonight, the curtain rises on the 1994-95 college basketball season, an occurrence not lost on ESPN and HTS, the two biggest sources of televised college basketball in the area.

HTS will go live from Cole Field House and the Dean Smith Center at 11:30 p.m. for the opening of practice for the Maryland and North Carolina men's and women's teams, with Mel Proctor in Chapel Hill and Al Koken and Glenn Consor in College Park, the site of the first "Midnight Madness" 24 years ago.

Meanwhile, ESPN plans to bounce among three schools -- Florida, Cincinnati and St. John's -- at midnight for its second annual special, hosted by Robin Roberts with input from Dick Vitale.

Network news

ABC yesterday announced a five-year extension -- through the year 2000 -- of its contract to carry the Southeastern Conference football championship game for a reported $20 million. The extension is puzzling because the SEC just signed away its regular-season contests to CBS, beginning in 1996.

Meanwhile, the NFL news continues to be terrific for NBC, which, with last weekend's healthy numbers, opened a slight lead over Fox for game coverage.

NBC's NFL schedule, through six weeks, has posted a 11.6 rating, a 22-percent rise from the same point last year, and Fox's 11.3 is dead even with what CBS scored at this point in the 1993 season.

"We're very pleased. We're 100 percent sold [advertising] and we're probably going to break even for this season. We haven't done that with football in a long time," said Dick Ebersol, NBC Sports president.

Speed demons

Look for tight spacing and a lot of jostling at the Advance Auto Parts 500, the next to last in this year's NASCAR Busch series, on the Martinsville, Va., half-mile course on TNN this Sunday at 1 p.m.

"It [the track] is like a drag strip, and this race should be a test of survival. It's traditionally been a very difficult race to finish," said play-by-play announcer Mike Joy.

A fond farewell

Finally, best wishes to Emily Barr, Channel 2's departing assistant general manager, who leaves WMAR this week to take charge of WTVD, the ABC affiliate in Durham, N.C., as general manager.

Barr, who helped Channel 2 land Orioles coverage, took a lot of unfair criticism, including from this reporter, for the station's decision to pass on the first game of the 1991 NBA Finals in favor of a telethon, but she handled it in a very classy manner.

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