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Costas' HBO Deal Could Cost ESPN

3/05/2002 8:22 AM Eastern

Any efforts by ESPN to land Bob Costas for its upcoming National
Basketball Association telecasts could be thwarted if Home Box Office renews its
cable-network-exclusive deal with the high-profile sportscaster.

HBO executives said the network is currently negotiating with Costas to renew
his current agreement, which expires in June.

Costas hosts sports series On the Record, which begins a 12 week-run
on the premium channel March 28.

As part of a new deal, HBO would also renew its contract clause insisting
that Costas not appear on any other cable-network program, sources close to the
situation said.

That clause would put a wrench in ABC/ESPN's expected plans to pursue Costas
for its NBA coverage once the sportscaster's deal with NBC expires later this
summer.

Costas has been a key face of NBC's NBA programming, both as a studio host
and an announcer, and he would be an asset to ABC/ESPN's six-year, $2.4 billion
deal.

While Costas could appear on ABC's NBA coverage, he would be prohibited from
appearing on any of ESPN's 75 regular-season contests or its 22 early-round
playoff games and complete conference-final-series coverage.

ABC representatives would not comment on the matter.

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