Thursday, January 17, 2002

Fox Sports Net cancels 'National Sports Report'

Enquirer staff and wire services

        Fox Sports Net is giving up the fight with ESPN on one front. FSN will cancel the nightly National Sports Report and six editions of Regional Sports Report.

        The Ohio regional report is one of the six canceled. The Ohio version aired at 6:30p.m. and 10p.m. daily. The late version was repeated at 7 and 8:30a.m.

        The half-hour shows will air through Feb.8.

        Fifteen employees will be laid off in Ohio because of the cuts, including two in Cincinnati.

        Fox Sports Net is also the rights-holder for the Reds. The network produces Real Reds, the pregame show.

        “That won't be affected,” said Steve Liverani, the general manager of FSN in Ohio. “This only affects the Regional.

        FSN's evening sports shows covering New York, Chicago, San Francisco, New England and Florida also are being pulled by Rainbow Media Group, which owns and operates affiliates there.

        The moves will result in cutting 81 full-time employees across the six regional networks.

        Rainbow, a 50 percent partner in Fox Sports Net, is owned by Cablevision Systems Corp., a New York-area cable TV company that also owns Madison Square Garden, the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers.

        National Sports Report — originally envisioned as a challenger to ESPN's Sports- Center — will air for the final time Feb.10. Starting the next day, FSN will have sports news breaks twice or four times an hour from 5:30p.m. to 2a.m. The shorter reports will be similar to the updates heard on radio.

        “We are morphing the way we present news. It's part of the evolution of the network,” FSN president Tracy Dolgin said.

        “We want to further differentiate ourselves from the competition.”

        National Sports Report started in 1996 as a two-hour show. It eventually was cut to an hour, then a half-hour.

        National Sports Report recently was drawing about one-fifth as many viewers as SportsCenter.

        Dropping National Sports Report will result in fewer than 20 job cuts.

        FSN, which went on the air in November 1996, reaches 78 million U.S. homes, about 8 million fewer than ESPN.


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