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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

nhl- NHL refused to negotiate with ESPN

from the LA Times, The NHL was left without a cable TV carrier Tuesday when ESPN, which last week declined to exercise a $60-million option for next season, said the league had refused to renew at a lower price or pattern a new deal after its revenue-sharing agreement with NBC Universal.
"Right now we're done negotiating," Mark Shapiro, executive vice president of ESPN, told reporters on a conference call. "We do not anticipate carrying the NHL next season.
"We're not playing games here. We wanted to do a deal and get something done.... A no rights-fee deal is the only model that should exist for any partner of the NHL. Who's to know what damage has been done?"
Should the NHL and the players' assn. soon agree on a labor deal and end the lockout that canceled this season, Shapiro said the rights fee would be worth "well below $60 million. Half that."
ESPN told the NHL last week it would not exercise its option but appeared to leave open a possibility it might continue at a lower cost. Shapiro said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was "uncomfortable cutting the price tag on the rights fee below $60 million."
The NHL said the fee was fair.
"When the now-expired contract was negotiated, the $60-million option price took a work stoppage — potentially a long-term work stoppage — into consideration," Frank Brown, the NHL's vice president for media relations, said. The NHL first appeared on ESPN in 1979, the network's debut year. ESPN acquired the national NHL TV rights in 1984, lost them, and regained them in 1992....more...