Contrary to report, it's status quo for rules of NFL's highlights show

ON MEDIA

July 01, 2005|By RAY FRAGER

A RECENT REPORT in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about NFL highlights has stirred things up in certain corners of the Web (if the Web has corners, that is). The report said the NFL's new television deal with NBC for the Sunday night package includes a provision that prohibits anyone else from airing NFL highlights until after midnight.

That's not quite true.

What actually happens -- according to spokesmen for NBC and ESPN -- is that the NFL's current rules continue to apply, with the only change being the network shifts from ESPN to NBC in 2006. The league permits only one network to air an NFL highlights show on Sunday night. However, other networks or local stations are permitted to carry highlights from any Sunday game that has finished during their regular sports news shows. And CBS and Fox will continue to present highlights in their halftime and post-game studio programs.

Therefore, starting in 2006, ESPN no longer can air NFL Prime Time at 7 p.m. Instead, NBC will have the highlights program leading into its Sunday night game. But during the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. SportsCenter airings, ESPN still can carry highlights of any games that are over, just as any other Sunday night sports show -- WBFF's Sports Unlimited, for example -- could.

And maybe ESPN puts on an NFL highlights show that starts at midnight.

So, you can't believe everything you read on the Web. Unless, of course, that's where you're reading this column.

ESPN presents baseball's All-Star rosters -- starters, pitchers and reserves -- Sunday night at 7, with the studio crew of host Karl Ravech and analysts Peter Gammons, John Kruk and Harold Reynolds. And one of them might just fit in a comment about how the Orioles are finished in the American League East race. ...

Lou Tilley interviews Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller on Wednesday's Out of Bounds (CN8, 11 p.m.). ... CBS reviews 20 NCAA spring championships -- divisions I, II and III -- tomorrow at 5 p.m. (WJZ/Channel 13 and WUSA/Channel 9). ...

Atlantic Broadband, a cable system serving the Eastern Shore, has added Washington's Fox affiliate, WTTG/Channel 5, for customers in Queen Anne's, Talbot and Kent counties, which is good news for any Washington Redskins fans in that area. And those who don't think quite as highly of the Redskins perhaps can take heart in thinking about Eastern Shore residents who now get to watch them lose.

Fox's 13 NASCAR races drew a 6.0 average national rating, 7 percent higher than Fox got in 2004 and a record for any network NASCAR package, Fox announced. That rating -- which measures the percentage of all television households watching -- translates into 9.6 million viewers. In addition, that 6.0 rating was better than ABC's NBA playoff average of 5.5. ...

Speaking of the NBA playoffs, Game 7 of the Finals drew a healthy 11.9 national rating, but Baltimore wasn't nearly as interested. Game 7 drew about half of the national average here, a 6.4. ...

NBC takes over NASCAR coverage starting tomorrow night at 7 (WBAL/Channel 11 and WRC/Channel 4) with the Pepsi 400 from Daytona. Bill Weber moves from pits reporter to play-by-play announcer, replacing Allen Bestwick, who goes to the pits.

During a conference call Wednesday, Bestwick said: "I get paid a very nice salary to come to racetracks every week, watch the sport I love and deal with the people I love, and there's no way this cannot be fun and it's just a little different position within the team. We've always preached team here, and continue to do so, so I expect to have a ball."

OLN carries live coverage of the Tour de France, beginning tomorrow, 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. each day. OLN airs daily shows on the Tour evenings from 8 to 11. ...

If you're planning a cookout, maybe you shouldn't watch, but ESPN is televising the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest from Coney Island, N.Y., Monday at noon. Last year, Japan's Takeru Kobayashi set a world record by eating 53 1/2 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes. Obviously, Kobayashi -- cue the groan machine -- relishes the competition.

Contact Ray Frager at ray.frager@baltsun.com.

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