Baseball's TV pact

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Major League Baseball on Monday gave details of its $1.7 billion TV rights deal that includes telecasts over the next five years on Fox, NBC, ESPN and the Fox Sports/Liberty Media Cable joint venture. The package includes a return of the Saturday afternoon "Game of the Week," a Saturday baseball show for kids and staggered telecasts of all post-season baseball games. Separately, MLB has recovered the bulk of its foreign TV rights.

The overall package does not include rights fees to MLB from superstations, direct broadcast satellite and radio. Under the new format, post-season games will be shown on up to 24 prime-time nights in October of each year. Fox, which is believed to have paid about $1 billion for its share of the package, will air three World Series (1996, 1998 and 2000), two All-Star Games (1997, 1999), half of the League Championship Series (one league per year), five division playoff games (four prime-time, one Saturday afternoon) and a Saturday afternoon regionalized "Game of the Week."

NBC gets two World Series (1997 and 1999), three All-Star Games (1996, 1998 and 2000), half the League Championship series and the remaining division playoff games, three of which will air in prime time and the remainder of which go to ESPN. ESPN extends its regular season deal by three more years, continuing with daily coverage on "Baseball Tonight" and expanding coverage of breaking news and milestones on ESPN2. ESPN will also televise all division playoff games not being shown on Fox or NBC. The Fox-Liberty joint venture will have a four-year, non-exclusive cable package beginning in 1997 that includes two games each week.

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