Fox Sports Net-owned regional networks plan to televise games on their
respective services even if conflict breaks out in Iraq.
A FSN spokesman said that with the National Basketball Association and the
National Hockey League planning to continue their schedules, the company's 11
owned regionals will air game action.
The spokesman added, though, that FSN has contingency plans in the event of
war, including showing a crawl to update viewers about situations in Iraq or
moving to Fox News Channel as developments warrant.
"If there were major crises or the president were speaking, our executives
would make a decision about switching over to Fox News Channel's feed," the
spokesman said. He noted that FSN's regionals aired the Fox News feed for a time
after the Sept. 11 terrorist tragedies.
Empire Sports Network, an FSN affiliate, also plans to air its regular
programming, notably the NHL's Buffalo Sabres.
"Our programming will be as scheduled unless something catastrophic should
occur," a spokesman said.
As an FSN affiliate, Empire could elect to run Fox News. Empire aired the
news network's programming in the wake of Sept. 11.
Comcast SportsNet -- serving viewers in the Philadelphia and Washington,
D.C., areas -- will also air regularly scheduled sports fare.
"We're going to be as normal as possible. We'll base our decisions with the
rest of the sports world," a spokesman said, noting, "We can adjust quickly if
situations warrant and go to a national [news] feed."
Cablevision Systems Corp.-controlled regionals Madison Square Garden Network
and Fox Sports New York also plan to take their cues from the NBA and NHL.
If President Bush addresses the nation, MSGN will pick up Fox News coverage,
according to a spokesman. As for telecasts of the NHL -- which, at press time,
had decided not to interrupt game action -- FSNY commentators and a crawl will
indicate that the president is speaking.
The five networks under the Rainbow Sports Network umbrella will take their
lead from the NBA and show any address by President Bush in the arenas.
"If that's the case, we'll show the feed that will be on the Jumbotron,"
senior vice president of marketing Dan Ronane said. That coverage would be
accompanied by a crawl alerting viewers to what was transpiring and that there
would be a return to game action.
Beyond that, the Rainbow regionals "don't have plans" to cut away from game
action to Fox News unless there were "catastrophic events." Otherwise, Ronane
said, the networks would run crawls directing viewers to the network or other
news sources for updates.
Meanwhile, with Major League Baseball canceling its season-opening series
between the Oakland A's and Seattle Mariners from Tokyo in deference to the
uncertainty surrounding a U.S. invasion of Iraq, FSN is handing back the
programming time to its affiliates.
FSN had planned to air the March 25 and 26 contests -- which would have
marked the earliest start ever for the national pastime -- live at 5 a.m. EST