Leaping figure skaters slam-dunk UMass-Georgetown in ratings

Media Watch

March 26, 1996|By Milton Kent

As far as the ratings go, there's a little good news and bad news for CBS through the first four rounds of the NCAA tournament, the network's signature sports franchise.

After last weekend's regionals, the network is averaging a 6.1 Nielsen rating, which is up 3 percent from the same point last year.

If that trend holds up through this weekend's Final Four, the network can expect a reversal of a trend of downward tournament ratings.

However, Saturday's Georgetown-Massachusetts East Regional final, which drew an 8.7, was beaten soundly in the Nielsen overnight ratings, which measure the largest 33 markets, by ABC's presentation of the women's long program finals of the World Figure Skating Championships with a 12.2 rating.

More Modell

Tonight's "Baltimore Sports Exchange" features a 10 p.m. interview with Art Modell, the owner of the city's new NFL football team, who will visit the host, Stan "The Fan" Charles, for the first hour of the show.

Of Comcast and 'harangue'

With last week's purchase of two Philadelphia sports franchises and arenas, your friendly cable giant, Comcast, has placed itself smack dab in the middle of other media conglomerates that not only own programming outlets, but sports teams themselves.

Unlike Turner, which owns the Atlanta Hawks and Braves; Tribune, which has the Chicago Cubs; and Cablevision, owner of the New York Knicks and Rangers, Comcast does not own its own channel.

But many media analysts think it's only a matter of time before it does, now that it has bought controlling interest in the 76ers, Flyers, the Spectrum and the soon-to-be-opened CoreStates Center.

The venture should, of course, be a cash cow for Comcast, a Philadelphia-based company, which also owns a significant piece of the QVC shopping channel. It's also another frightening step down the road in which sports teams are no longer owned by pseudo-benevolent sports fans who are indulging a habit, but by bottom-line oriented conglomerates more interested in things like synergies and marketing campaigns.

Interestingly, the news of the purchase came during a time when Comcast's local Baltimore County outlet is seeking a 15-year extension of its exclusive license to provide service.

A Comcast spokesman, David Nevins, was quoted in this newspaper as saying he didn't expect much "harangue" from the public about the company's service during a County Council public hearing last week.

Nevins was proven correct, as few people turned out.

That's a shame, because Comcast has much to answer for about its service, if not about the arrogance of a spokesman equating legitimate complaints with haranguing.

'Star-Spangled' hypocrisy

That was a nice piece of reporting turned in last week by pTC ESPN's David Aldridge on his "NBA Beat" during "SportsCenter" to uncover a rather ugly double standard regarding the freedom of expression in the league.

While NBA officials brought the hammer down on Denver Nuggets guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, who refused to stand during the playing of the national anthem, Aldridge reports that they have been strangely silent over Charlotte Hornets owner George Shinn's chilling requirement that his players take part in an on-court prayer before home games.

Shinn has issued a thinly veiled threat that players who don't comply may find themselves playing elsewhere, yet the league says this apparent violation of the players' constitutional rights is a team rule, and not subject to their purview.

At any rate, Aldridge, a former Washington Post reporter, turned in the kind of story you won't see on the NBA's broadcast partners, cable or over-the-air.

Pub Date: 3/26/96

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