CFLs fans left to dish up their own view of playoff

ON THE AIR

November 15, 1994|By MILTON KENT

Note to Baltimore CFLs fans: Here's hoping all the batteries in your transistor radios are fully powered and your dial is tuned to WJFK (1300 AM), because that appears to be the only way you will get immediate word on Sunday's CFL playoff game.

For the moment, neither the revolution nor Sunday's Eastern Division final in Winnipeg at 1:30 p.m. will be televised, and the prospects are bleak of getting the latter reversed.

Let's start at the top: ESPN2, which has exclusive U. S. telecast rights to the CFL and its playoffs, has opted for the Calgary-B.C. Western Division showdown at 4:30 p.m., after carrying the Baltimore-Toronto Eastern semifinal last weekend.

Josh Krulewitz, an ESPN2 spokesman, said the network planned all along to carry a first-round Eastern game and the Western championship to try to build an audience for its live coverage of the Grey Cup on Nov. 27.

Of course, the presence of Calgary quarterback Doug Flutie, a proven CFL ratings-grabber, doesn't hurt in making the decision, Krulewitz said.

"It's not an effort to choose one conference over another," said Krulewitz. "Flutie's a good story line, as was Baltimore winning last week. He's rated well on the network, and it gives us an opportunity to develop the other half of the Grey Cup matchup."

However, Krulewitz said the network would be willing to relinquish local telecast rights to an over-the-air carrier.

But channels 2 and 45 would have to pass up more lucrative NFL games from their respective networks, as well as pick up prohibitive production costs to carry the game from far-flung Manitoba, with little time to line up advertisers or get sufficient word to the public.

Channel 13 programming chief Michael Easterling likewise declared his station out of the running for the game, for roughly the same reasons, and officials at Channel 11 could not be reached for comment.

The only realistic possibility left would be Home Team Sports, though there are questions if ESPN2 would grant rights to a regional carrier such as HTS.

Still, HTS spokesman Scott Broyles said the game could not air live, since the channel is contractually obligated to show the Atlantic Coast Conference women's volleyball championships at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

Of course, if your pal Stinky's satellite dish can pick off Canadian broadcast signals, you might be able to catch the game at his place, provided you bring over the chips and drinks.

Additions and subtractions

HTS has added five more Washington Bullets games to its schedule, including the Nov. 25 contest against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Baltimore Arena, bringing the total for the season to 39.

The other four games -- vs. the Dallas Mavericks on Dec. 8, the Sacramento Kings on Dec. 20, the Golden State Warriors on Dec. 22 and the Los Angeles Clippers on Dec. 23 -- are all road contests.

The channel also announced that three Washington Capitals games this month will be replaced, thanks to the nasty little work stoppage that's going on in the NHL. In place of this Friday's telecast of the Caps-Toronto game, HTS will air the Virginia Slims tennis championships, the last scheduled tournament of Martina Navratilova's singles career, live from New York at 7 p.m.

Next Wednesday's Capitals-Vancouver game will be replaced with the championship game of the inaugural women's basketball National Invitation Tournament, with time and site contingent on the finalists. The Bullets-Cleveland game on Nov. 25 will air in place of the Washington-Pittsburgh hockey game.

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