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Tooting Its Own Horn, NBC Hits a Sour Note

September 08, 2006|LARRY STEWART

If television is all about self-promotion, then NBC did well in its first NFL telecast since 1998 Thursday night. Saturday's game between Penn State and Notre Dame got a lot of attention during halftime of the Miami-Pittsburgh season opener.

There's this game of some significance between Texas and Ohio State on Saturday, but that game is on ABC. So it didn't get a mention. The Penn State-Notre Dame game is on NBC.

Highlights of Notre Dame's victory over Penn State in 1992 were shown, and included a touchdown by Jerome Bettis and commentary by Cris Collinsworth. By coincidence, both are part of NBC's studio team, which wasn't in a studio Thursday night but rather on site in Pittsburgh.

Note to Fox, which is taking its pregame show on the road this year: Background stadium noise makes it hard to hear.

Controversy Brewing

The NFL's new flex schedule allows NBC to cherry pick games it wants for its Sunday night telecasts late in the season. NBC, beginning with Week 10, gets to pick 12 days in advance, and for the final week of the season it's only six days.

On the other hand, according to Sean McManus, president of CBS News and CBS Sports, his network and Fox must decide on all the games it wants to protect -- games NBC can't have -- after Week 4.

"It doesn't make a lot of sense to me," McManus said on a conference call Thursday. "It would seem the NFL would want us to have as much information as possible to know what teams are playing well."

USC-UCLA Connection

USC alumnus Reggie Bush makes his regular-season NFL debut Sunday when the New Orleans Saints play at Cleveland, and because of the interest in Bush, Fox will televise the game in Los Angeles. Working the game will be play-by-play announcer Ron Pitts, who played at UCLA, and former UCLA coach Terry Donahue.

A Unique New Show

For years, Channel 7 had a postgame show following ABC's "Monday Night Football." Now Channel 4, beginning this weekend, will have a postgame show following "NBC Sunday Night Football." Only it will not be a traditional postgame show that features highlights and analysis.

Channel 4's show, called "The Challenge," will be interactive and involve the studio audience. Part of the show will be sort of a "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" with a sports theme. Viewers can answer trivia questions through their computer or on their cellphone with a chance at the end of the season to win such prizes as a car, a trip to Hawaii, a trip to an NFL game or a flat-screen TV. "I don't think there has ever been a local sports show quite like this one," host Fred Roggin said.

Asked if there would be highlights from the day's NFL games, Roggin, noting that NBC will have already shown plenty of highlights, said, "Probably not."

New Station for Clippers

The Clippers and radio station 710 announced Thursday that they have entered into a multiyear agreement. The Clippers were previously carried by 1150, a sister station of Lakers flagship 570. Matt Pinto remains the Clippers' radio play-by-play announcer, although the TV team of Ralph Lawler and Michael Smith will do the radio broadcasts for non-televised games.

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