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NBC Hopes All This Golf Won't Be a Major Turnoff

June 14, 1996|LARRY STEWART

The question isn't: Why is NBC covering all four rounds of the U.S. Open? The question is: Why haven't any of the networks done it before on major golf tournaments?

One problem for the networks has always been getting their affiliates to agree to preempting daytime programming on weekdays. As an enticement in this case, NBC offered its affiliates half of the commercial time during the first two rounds.

Now with coverage of today's second round being carried by both ESPN (8-11 a.m. and 2-4:30 p.m.) and NBC (noon-2 p.m.) and then NBC providing six hours of coverage on both Saturday and Sunday, beginning at 9:30 a.m., another question might be: Is this too much golf?

Veteran golf commentator Dave Marr, who joined NBC last year and this week signed a new multiyear contract, said, "No one has to watch every minute."

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During a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, NBC's Johnny Miller was asked about Greg Norman, whom he has been accused of bashing.

"Greg Norman is the greatest player in the world, but tough things have happened to him," Miller said, adding that what bothers him is that "he has been treated so special by CBS."

The conference call had to be cut short because a downpour in Michigan was so intense it made hearing difficult. Lightning was striking near the NBC production trailers as well. But fortunately, it cleared for Thursday's first round.

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NBC got what it wanted--at least a five-game series--when the Seattle SuperSonics beat the Chicago Bulls in Game 4 of the NBA finals Wednesday night. NBC counts on ad revenue from five games. That's the break-even point, and anything beyond that is a plus.

Game 4 got a 18.1 national rating, third-highest rating for a Game 4, and the average is now 16.1, second highest after four games. The 1993 finals had a 17.1 after four games.

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A replay of the Oscar De La Hoya-Julio Cesar Chavez fight will be shown on HBO Saturday night as part of a boxing tripleheader, beginning at 6:30.

The first fight, Kevin Kelley vs. Derrick Gainer, is scheduled for 12 rounds. The second, Roy Jones Jr.-Eric Lucas, doesn't figure to last long.

The replay is the third fight and could begin as early as 7:30 or 7:45.

HBO used its own cameras to film the fight, and a spokesman said there are some good slow-motion and reverse-angle shots.

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Larry Holmes is fighting on CBS' "Sports Show" on Sunday--Father's Day. Holmes is both a father and a grandfather, but why put his fight on network television?

"A Larry Holmes fight is like a car accident--people have to stop and look," said CBS sports programming chief Rob Correa.

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Fox got only a 2.9 rating for its second installment of Saturday baseball last weekend.

CBS got a 3.3 the same weekend in 1993, its last season of baseball.

Overall, Fox has done OK with baseball, even though it virtually ignored the Albert Belle story on its first pregame show June 1.

The main problem is that Fox does so much chest-pounding, you'd think the network was reinventing the sport.

Fox got some top production people, such as former NBC executive producer Michael Weisman, but doesn't have any play-by-play announcers the caliber of Vin Scully, Al Michaels or Bob Costas.

Fox's only marquee game commentator is Tim McCarver, whose popularity is mixed.

Fox got some recognition for its score-all-the-time graphic in football--something that had been done with British soccer for years--but nothing the network has done since, including the blue puck in hockey, warrants the network's arrogance.

"They're the new kids on the block, so they're trying to be noticed by being a little loud," one insider said.

TV-Radio Notes

Howard Stern and USC football will be on the same station beginning next fall. USC is moving from KMPC (710) to KLSX-FM (97.1), which now also carries Scott Farrell, the gravel-voiced syndicated nighttime sports talk-show host. "We had a tough time selling advertising at KMPC," commentator-packager Mike Lamb said. "The KLSX signal is better and the people there have been unbelievably enthusiastic." . . . The latest Arbitron ratings book shows KMPC is averaging a .8 share in the 12-plus category and ranks 32nd in the market. KLSX is averaging a 2.0 and ranks 20th.

There is talk KLAC (570) may soon try an all-sports format, and a recent announcement that the station, beginning July 8, will pick up Don Imus' morning show from New York's WFAN has strengthened the rumors. Imus does not do a sports show, but everything else on WFAN is sports talk.

"Run for the Dream: The Gail Devers Story" makes its debut on Showtime Sunday at 8 p.m. . . . The Colorado Avalanche in one year delivered to Denver what John Elway never has--a major championship. Elway, in Los Angeles this week to tape a DirecTV commercial for the NFL Sunday Ticket pay package, said he attended every Avalanche playoff game. "I wasn't a hockey fan until this year, but I am now," he said.

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