Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sports Media Report - February 24th update.........

Could we have both sports figures and broadcasters looking at their watches while live on the air? Last Wednesday's (Feb. 18) college hoops game between North Carolina and NC State just might lead to a clock company becoming a corporate sponsor for a sports team. It could be quite the marketing tie-in.

What brought this on? During his post-game press conference, an emotional North Carolina coach Roy Williams used the f-word in answer to a question about his team's full court press (or lack thereof) in the just concluded game against N.C. State. Understandable, except that both the Tar Heels and Wolfpack Radio Networks, broadcasting live on numerous stations (including several duplicate markets) each carried this response live on the air.

Yet, we are not hearing or reading about possible fines of groups of radio stations which aired this. At least not yet. The reason? It is not because this could be considered a live news story. And it is not because the Coach immediately apologized, likely knowing his comments might have been (and indeed were) live on the air. It seems that Coach Williams made his comment after 10:00 PM, which is considered part of the "Safe Harbor" period by the FCC.

Personally, my hope is that the decision makers about carrying these press conferences live will keep in mind that this was a post-game press conference and not something that slipped through during an actual game. There have been a share of live 'language mishaps' during game action.

Considering the delay of a post-game press conference, which some radio and TV stations already do just for this reason, needs to be treated differently from delaying any game action.

It will be interesting to see if anyone else keeps the "Safe Harbor" situation in mind in the near future, especially if this incident continues to sneak through without a major reaction.

This brought back a memory of the late 80's when the "Safe Harbor" first went into effect between Midnight and 6:00 AM. I was living in Los Angeles and listening to KLSX in its days as a classic rock station. Phil Hendrie was then a late night music host. One night, he slipped up reading an announcement and said "Ooops. I'll get my (s-word) together". I was shocked, but then looked at my watch and it was four minutes past Midnight. And I never heard or read another word about that incident - and that was from the announcer on the air.

But in this instance, I have to believe the coach's incident aired live because both networks were airing this, and I'm sure neither wanted to wait until possibly after the other started to air it because of the duplication of markets. Yet, a few minutes earlier, and the FCC could have issued up millions in fines.

It's "Play Ball" big time starting this week for the exciting new MLB Network. In addition to one hour shows devoted to each team airing over the next 4 weeks, the Network has announced a full slate of spring training telecasts, most of them live, starting with two games on the first day of exhibition games. (The tentative schedule is shown below.)

SAN FRANCISCO - Oakland A's fans might have a tougher challenge than the A's themselves when the regular season starts. The A's games have moved to stations which are not strong signals. Now Comcast SportsNet and DirecTV still have not worked out their greed. Or should I say, financial differences. Of course, thousands of fans could lose out.

This season, as many as 145 of the A's games are to be shown on CSN. However, negotiations are continuing for the regional DirecTV feed, which as of this writing, is not settled. While Comcast
SportsNet and DirecTV officials have begun the usual public mudslinging that has become a part of the sports on TV landscape over the past couple of years, an estimated 300,000+ households might not have access to the A's games.

This, while the A's get millions from Comcast SportsNet for the rights to practically all of their games. And while many fans will have difficulty hearing or seeing the games. And this after the San Francisco Giants, with an expanded cable package of 134 games and only 20 games on KPIX Channel 11 (plus national telecasts) will have at least 159 out of 162 games televised.

For the sake of Bay Area baseball fans who are finally getting a major assortment of TV games, let's hope this does get resolved. It is not a given. Comcast's CSN Northwest in the Portland area has the Blazers' NBA telecasts, and those are still not available on that area's DirectTV, now almost 2/3 into this NBA season.

For those with digital cable in the Bay Area, Giants and A's games will be available for replay the next day at no additional charge.

NATIONAL - Maybe this information will alert sports radio stations which continue to carry delayed sports talk shows. This is a separate battle from the local vs. syndicated discussion. Sports stations in markets as large as Los Angeles and Chicago continue to air sports shows delayed by hours which sometimes results in outdated stories on the air.

Now comes word from ESPN that since going to live SportsCenter and related programming into the late morning and early afternoon its viewership is up anywhere from 10% to 20% so far. Sports fans want it "now".

PITTSBURGH - New Pirates play-by-play voice Tim Neverett makes his debut on Wednesday (Feb. 25) calling the Pirates exhibition opener against the Phillies on flagship WPGB 104.7 FM and the Pirates Radio Network. Greg Brown will also continue with play-by-play, with analysis from Steve Blass, Bob Walk, and John Wehner. Pirates radio will carry 16 spring training games, a higher total than most teams this season. FSN Pittsburgh will carry 125 regular season and 2 spring training games.

BOSTON - WEEI Sports Radio programming continues to go regional. Cape Cod's 96.3 FM will carry WEEI sports beginning April 1st, and will change its call letters to WEII. The Hyannis station will continue its music format through March.

BALTIMORE / D.C.: The rumor mill is churning about WJFK 106.7 in Washington possibly changing from "guy talk" to sports talk to compete with ESPN 980. I have to wonder about that, considering that nearby Baltimore has four - count 'em, four - sports stations, after CBS changed the former WHFS to sports WJZ-FM.

Here's hoping for a speedy recovery to WBAL afternoon host Ron Smith after emergency heart surgery on Feb. 14th. Same for WRC Channel 4 sports reporter Dan Hellie, recovering from a shoulder separation suffered in a ski accident last week.

No replacement named yet at D.C.'s WTTG Channel 5 for a weekend sports anchor postion. Dave Benz is leaving to join Comcast SportsNet Bay Area in San Francisco. Benz had previously anchored for FSN Rocky Mountain in the Denver area.

DENVER - Speaking of Denver, Mile High Sports 1510 AM is adding a weekly NASCAR radio show, "Hansen's Race Central" with Kurt Hansen. However, with some NASCAR events on Saturdays, a Sunday morning slot wouldn't be a fit every weekend. The show will air at the unusual but "fresh" time of 10 AM to Noon on Fridays. If race fans remember or are able to tune in, they will get timely information.

WHEELING: Sorry to learn of the passing of George Kellas, who passed away last week (Feb. 19) from cancer at the age of 53. Kellas was a sports anchor for eight years at WTOV-TV and for 12 years at WTRF-TV. Most recently, George hosted a show on KKKX 1600 AM since 2004.

*Indicates live broadcast
All times ET and subject to change
February 25 3:00 p.m.* San Francisco Giants @ Cleveland Indians
7:00 p.m.* Boston Red Sox @ Minnesota Twins

February 26 4:00 p.m. Arizona Diamondbacks @ Cleveland Indians

February 27 1:00 p.m.* St. Louis Cardinals @ New York Mets
5:00 p.m. San Diego Padres @ Cleveland Indians

February 28 1:00 p.m.* Tampa Bay Rays @ Philadelphia Phillies
5:00 p.m. Minnesota Twins @ New York Yankees

March 1 1:00 p.m.* Boston Red Sox @ Minnesota Twins
5:00 p.m. Chicago White Sox @ Los Angeles Dodgers
9:00 p.m. Houston Astros @ New York Mets

March 3 1:00 p.m.* USA @ New York Yankees (WBC Exhibition)
5:00 p.m. Canada @ Toronto Blue Jays (WBC Exhibition)

March 4 9:00 p.m.* Australia @ Seattle Mariners (WBC Exhibition)
March 5 4:00 p.m.* Chicago White Sox @ Chicago Cubs
March 6 1:00 p.m.* Washington Nationals @ Baltimore Orioles
March 7 3:00 p.m.* Oakland Athletics @ San Diego Padres
March 9 1:00 p.m.* Baltimore Orioles @ New York Mets
March 14 4:00 p.m.* Texas Rangers @ Chicago White Sox

March 15 1:00 p.m.* St. Louis Cardinals @ Philadelphia Phillies
8:30 p.m. Kansas City Royals @ San Francisco Giants

March 16 1:00 p.m.* St. Louis Cardinals @ Detroit Tigers
7:00 p.m.* Tampa Bay Rays @ Pittsburgh Pirates

March 17 1:00 p.m.* Minnesota Twins @ Boston Red Sox
March 18 1:00 p.m.* Atlanta Braves @ New York Mets
March 19 1:00 p.m.* St. Louis Cardinals @ Tampa Bay Rays
7:00 p.m.* Boston Red Sox @ Cincinnati Reds

March 20 1:00 p.m.* Cincinnati Reds @ Houston Astros
5:00 p.m. San Diego Padres @ Chicago Cubs
9:00 p.m.* Los Angeles Dodgers @ Kansas City Royals

March 21 1:00 p.m.* Boston Red Sox @ Florida Marlins
5:00 p.m. Chicago Cubs @ Chicago White Sox

March 22 1:00 p.m.* New York Yankees @ Tampa Bay Rays
5:00 p.m. Cleveland Indians @ Colorado Rockies

March 23 1:00 p.m.* Florida Marlins @ Houston Astros
5:00 p.m. Milwaukee Brewers @ Colorado Rockies

March 24 1:00 p.m.* New York Mets @ Houston Astros
7:00 p.m.* Boston Red Sox @ New York Yankees

March 25 1:00 p.m.* Detroit Tigers @ New York Mets
7:00 p.m.* Atlanta Braves @ Washington Nationals

March 26 4:00 p.m.* Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim @ Cleveland Indians
10:30 p.m.* Chicago Cubs @ San Francisco Giants

March 27 1:00 p.m.* Detroit Tigers @ Atlanta Braves
9:00 p.m.* Milwaukee Brewers @ Texas Rangers

March 28 1:00 p.m.* Philadelphia Phillies @ Pittsburgh Pirates
5:00 p.m. Chicago Cubs @ Colorado Rockies
9:00 p.m. New York Yankees @ Atlanta Braves

March 29 1:00 p.m.* Atlanta Braves @ Detroit Tigers
5:00 p.m. Kansas City Royals @ Seattle Mariners

March 30 1:00 p.m.* Tampa Bay Rays @ Minnesota Twins
7:00 p.m.* San Diego Padres @ Cleveland Indians

March 31 4:00 p.m.* Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim @ Chicago Cubs
10:00 p.m.* Milwaukee Brewers @ San Diego Padres

April 1 1:00 p.m.* Florida Marlins @ Baltimore Orioles
5:00 p.m. Texas Rangers @ Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
9:00 p.m. Arizona Diamondbacks @ Milwaukee Brewers

April 2 3:00 p.m.* Chicago White Sox @ Milwaukee Brewers
10:00 p.m.* Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim @ Los Angeles Dodgers

April 3 7:00 p.m.* Chicago Cubs @ New York Yankees
April 4 1:00 p.m.* Boston Red Sox @ New York Mets
6:00 p.m.* Baltimore Orioles @ Washington Nationals
10:00 p.m.* Milwaukee Brewers @ Los Angeles Dodgers

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