For the first time, Fox Sports Chicago could end up with
valuable Chicago Cubs Major League Baseball games this year.
The regional-sports network, which currently carries more
than 100 Chicago White Sox MLB games, could acquire at least 60 Cubs games currently
offered by local cable-news channel CLTV, sources close to the situation said.
The Tribune Co. owns CLTV, the Cubs and the team's
broadcast outlet, WGN-TV. But CLTV is only distributed in 1.7 million cable households.
WGN -- which is also a national superstation with nearly 50 million homes -- carries
nearly 100 Cubs games.
With the Cubs' success last year -- including
outfielder Sammy Sosa's pursuit of the home-run record -- sources in the area said
there has been an outcry from viewers for greater access to non-WGN Cubs telecasts. Fox
Sports Chicago has more than 3 million subscribers.
Representatives from Fox Sports Chicago would not comment
on the matter.
WGN, which has carried Cubs games for decades, curtailed
its number of Cubs telecasts after it began carrying The WB Television Network programming
in 1995. CLTV then picked up the games that WGN did not telecast.
Representatives from WGN, CLTV and the Cubs could not be
reached for comment at press time.
If Fox Sports Chicago does end up with Cubs games, it would
face a difficult scheduling problem, at least through the spring: The network would have
to balance Cubs and White Sox telecasts with Chicago Bulls National Basketball Association
and Chicago Blackhawks National Hockey League games.