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SPORTS WEEKEND | TV-RADIO / LARRY STEWART

Switching Channels With Lakers, Ducks

May 02, 1997|LARRY STEWART

Channel 9 picked up another Laker game when Portland won Game 3 on Wednesday night, and Thursday the station sidestepped what could have been a disastrous public-relations situation.

Channel 9 has Game 1 of the Mighty Ducks' second-round playoff series against Detroit today at 4:30 p.m. and also has Game 4 of the Lakers' first-round series against the Trail Blazers at 7:30.

Channel 9, the longtime Laker flagship station, is contractually bound to show all Laker road games in their entirety. So if the Duck game runs long, Channel 9 is required to cut away from the Ducks for the start of the Laker game.

But for those with cable television, there is no need to worry. Late Thursday, at the request of the Ducks, the ESPN blackout of their game against the Red Wings was lifted, giving Channel 9 viewers the option of switching to ESPN.

Earlier in the day, Kitty Cohen, general manager of Fox Sports West, offered to take the Duck game off Channel 9's hands.

Channel 9 General Manager Don Corsini said thanks, but no thanks. Can't blame him for that. Why give up an attractive telecast to a competitor simply to avoid a possible problem?

Also, had Fox Sports West ended up with the Duck game, soccer fans would have been upset because it would have knocked the 4:30 Galaxy-D.C. United game off Fox Sports West.

Lifting the ESPN blackout made the most sense, even though Channel 9 may lose a bit of its audience.

"It's the best solution to a potential dilemma," Corsini said. "In most cases, audience size is everything, but in this case it was more important to avoid possibly depriving viewers of the end of the Duck game."

If Channel 9 has to cut away from the Duck game, viewers will be advised that they can switch to ESPN.

The bad part about the ESPN blackout being lifted is that Los Angeles will not get Game 1 of the Edmonton-Colorado series, which was originally scheduled to be shown here on ESPN at 5:30 p.m.

L.A. gets only Game 1 of the New York Ranger-New Jersey Devil series on ESPN2 at 4:30 and the Ducks and Red Wings at the same time on Channel 9 and ESPN.

Corsini said that Channel 9 will cut into the Laker game with updates from the Duck game if they end up overlapping. Also, he said the third period and any overtimes from the Duck game will be replayed in their entirety at midnight.

No problems concerning Game 2 of the Duck-Red Wing series on Sunday. The Fox network has that one, so it will be shown on Channel 11 at 11 a.m. An interview Fox's James Brown conducted with Duck stars Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne will be shown after the second period.

Fox also has Game 2 of the Ranger-Devil series on Sunday, but that game won't be shown in this part of the country.

MEANWHILE, IN THE NBA

The Lakers will play sometime Sunday; it's just not known exactly when and against whom. If they beat Portland tonight, they'll play at Utah. If they lose to Portland, they'll play the Trail Blazers on Sunday at the Forum. Whatever, NBC will televise the game.

Lisa Leslie, who has broadcasting aspirations, has been working the Laker-Portland series as a sideline reporter for TNT. She'll miss tonight's game, however, because she'll be in Los Angeles picking up an award as the YWCA woman of the year.

SETTING A PRECEDENT

Baron Davis' announcement on Fox Sports West that he will attend UCLA brings back memories of 1975, when Verbum Dei stars Roy Hamilton and David Greenwood made their big UCLA announcement on Channel 4. They gave Bryant Gumbel, who then worked for the station, an exclusive.

"We chose Bryant only because we liked him as a sportscaster," said Hamilton, now a freelance network sports producer who lives in Oceanside. "What we didn't realize is that the other stations in town would be so upset about it. It was so long ago it's sort of a blur, but I think it was just a short segment on the news."

Surely, it was done with more class than Davis' announcement. "Since Gumbel was doing it, I'm sure it was done with class," Hamilton said. "I think I would remember if it wasn't."

CAMERAS ARE EVERYWHERE

Generally, the last thing a horse owner wants is anything that might disrupt his jockey, particularly in the Kentucky Derby.

But that didn't stop Barry Irwin and Jeff Siegel, who head up the syndicate that owns Captain Bodgit, from giving permission to ABC to equip jockey Alex Solis with a miniature helmet-cam for Saturday's race.

The owners were convinced by ABC producer Curt Gowdy Jr. that the miniature camera won't bother Solis, and that it could be a great innovation for covering horse racing on television.

An exercise rider at the Wood Memorial three weeks ago tested the camera. "She said it was great, that she didn't even know it was there," Gowdy said.

The camera is joined to a wireless transmitter about the size of a pack of cigarettes that is sewn into a pocket on the jockey's back. The signal is beamed to a helicopter, which sends it to the network's truck. All told, the camera, battery pack and transmitter weigh about 1 pound 4 ounces.

SHORT WAVES

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