NBA Presses for Cable Deals

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The National Basketball Association is evidently poised to announce new cable-centric TV-rights packages, but MSOs may not share the professional hoops league's enthusiasm for one of the agreements, which calls for the establishment of a new channel with a 50-cent license fee.

According to sources and published reports, the NBA would partner with Turner Sports on a new service that would be home to four regular-season games per week.

The league and Turner would jointly own the network, with parent AOL Time Warner Inc. paying some $175 million to $200 million annually

The parties would seek monthly subscriber fees of 50 cents.

Sources and published reports also indicated last week that the NBA has reached an agreement with ESPN and ABC, under which the cable network would carry 55 regular-season games on two nights -- likely Fridays and Sundays -- as well as the playoffs.

ABC would air 15 regular-season games, some early-round playoff action and the NBA Finals.

Turner, meanwhile, is said to have inked a six-year, $1 million deal for 50 to 55 regular-season games that would probably air as doubleheaders Thursday nights, the NBA All-Star Game and playoff action.

Turner Network Television and ESPN would split coverage of the conference finals under these arrangements.

As of late Friday, representatives for ESPN, Turner and the NBA declined comment on the packages.

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