Infinity looks like outlet to beat in race for Ravens radio rights

Media Watch

June 06, 1996|By Milton Kent

There are just a few things left on the Ravens' "to-do" list, now that such matters as their permanent seat licensing plan and their new logo, helmet and color scheme have been settled on.

One of the biggest outstanding issues is who will carry their games on the radio, and that decision should be coming soon.

"We do need to get this rolling a little bit quicker than it has. We need to move it off the glacial pitch it's been proceeding to the race car pitch," said David Modell, a team vice president.

Modell wouldn't specify a date for an announcement, but sources in and around the broadcasting community said they think the word should come down in the next 10 to 14 days.

Modell said four broadcast outlets have placed their hats in the ring for the team's rights. The buzz among local broadcasters is that Infinity, which owns four stations in Baltimore, WXYV (102.7 FM), WLIF (101.9 FM), WJFK (1300 AM) and WCAO (600 AM), has emerged as the favorite.

Officials from Infinity did not return phone calls yesterday.

Sources said club officials met with Infinity president Mel Karmazin -- whose company holds the radio rights to the Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles, among others -- two weeks ago in New York, at which time Karmazin made a lucrative offer.

Also to be decided is whether the club will accept a straight rights fee or will retain its rights and produce the broadcast itself in a licensing arrangement with the broadcaster, as it did in Cleveland.

A possible scenario could see the Ravens accept a straight rights fee from Infinity for a short term, say two years, then take their broadcasts back in house and link advertising deals with signages in their new stadium.

By the way, let's hope in the period leading up to the designation of the rights-holder that our sportscasters, radio and television, can display just a measure of decorum and circumspection in regards to the Ravens, as opposed to some of the shameless fawning and kissing up to team officials that we've observed from a variety of individuals.

Hiring coup for CNN/SI

Six months before it goes on the air, the new CNN/SI all-sports news channel has dealt a big blow to its presumed competitor, ESPN3, by hiring away one of ESPN's top producers.

Jean McCormick, coordinating producer of ESPN's outstanding "Outside the Lines" documentary series and a six-time Emmy winner, will take over as executive producer of CNN/SI, the joint venture between the all-news network and Sports Illustrated and CNN Sports, the network announced yesterday.

"This is a wonderful opportunity to do daily journalism again. I've missed that. There's so much ground to be broken and so much stuff to do," said McCormick.

McCormick, who was chief of research at ABC's "Nightline," before coming to ESPN in 1988, also developed the "Sunday SportsDay" program for ESPN, and becomes one of the top ranking female executives in sports broadcasting.

Highlights spiked

Don't bother looking on newscasts on channels 2, 13 or 45 for highlights of this week's Olympic beach volleyball trials being held in the Inner Harbor.

Those stations will not be allowed to show anything other than player interviews until after Saturday and Sunday's matches.

Meanwhile, the only local station that has permission to air footage before the weekend is Channel 11, which receives favored-nation treatment as an affiliate of NBC, the network of the Olympics.

"It's an Olympic event. It [the arrangement] is very typical," said Rosie Cruz, a USA Volleyball publicist. "Because people pay a lot of money [for the rights], that should give them priority."

This is the precursor to what's coming down the pike in six weeks, when it will be virtually impossible to see same-day Olympics highlights anywhere but NBC.

NBC's affiliates contributed substantially to the $456 million rights fee the network paid for this year's Olympics. In return, NBC has taken great measures to ensure that its stations are protected during the Games, by banning the use of highlights from any day's proceedings on other stations until after the late local news has aired on the NBC affiliate in a given market, which could be as late as 12: 30 a.m. in Baltimore.

Postseason roundup

We were remiss in not reminding you that all games of both the Stanley Cup and NBA championship series can be heard locally on WWLG (1360 AM). The hockey final series shifts television venues from Fox to ESPN tonight with Game 2 of the series airing at 8 p.m., preceded by "Quest for a Cup," at 7: 30 p.m.

Finally, perhaps you've noticed that ESPN's "SportsCenter" has used the Canadian Broadcasting Company's game footage for highlights, rather than Fox's, which features the network's glowing puck and comet trail.

An ESPN spokeswoman says there's no slight involved, that ESPN and the CBC have always had a relationship that involves sharing of highlight packages. Just one of those things that make you go, "hmmm."

Pub Date: 6/06/96

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