Networks: Back In The Ballgame

ONE OF THE WORST DEALS IN broadcasting history, the $1.06 billion CBS contract to air baseball games from 1990 to 1993 managed to damage both the network and the sport. Now, both parties are trying to rebuild. Broadcasting sources say that CBS and the Fox TV network are discussing an $880 million, four-year broadcasting partnership with Major League Baseball. But they're not alone: As word of the talks leaked, sources say, ABC joined the fray. The network had forsworn baseball earlier this summer, but ABC's new owners at Walt Disney now want a joint ESPN/ABC bid. Baseball could have something it would not have dared dream of three weeks ago: a bidding battle that could produce $250 million a year. So far, none of the networks has ventured that high. But negotiations are far from over.

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