Cablevision/SC Florida Deal in the Works

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Cablevision Systems Corp. is talking to Florida sportsmagnate Wayne Huizenga about repurchasing SportsChannel Florida.

The deal could be a boon for Fox Sports Net, which has yetto fully penetrate the Florida market with its Fox Sports Net and Fox Sports Newsprogramming.

Huizenga is negotiating with Cablevision to sell back his70 percent share of SC Florida, which he bought from the MSO in 1996, sources close to thesituation said. Cablevision already owns the other 30 percent.

However, Fox/Liberty Ventures owns 40 percent ofCablevision's 30 percent stake through the two companies' June 1997 $850 millionregional-sports-network deal.

The deal could come within the next two months -- shortlyafter Huizenga's proposed $150 million sale of Major League Baseball's FloridaMarlins to Florida commodities trader and New York Yankees minority owner John Henry iscompleted.

Representatives from SC Florida would not comment on thematter, and Cablevision officials did not return calls by press time.

If Cablevision reacquires SC Florida, it could open thedoor for Fox Sports Net to finally gain a foothold within the Florida marketplace. Thenational backdrop service has a limited distribution deal with SC Florida's rival,Sunshine Network, but the agreement – which ends this year – does not includeFox Sports News.

Representatives from Fox Sports Net would not comment onthe matter.

SC Florida, however, would first have to get out of itsdeal with CNN/SI, which it currently uses as its backdrop news service. Sources close tothe situation said the network has an out in its deal with the Time Warner Inc.-owned24-hour sports-news service, but it's unclear if it's tied to the sale of theservice.

CNN/SI representatives did not return calls by press time.