Turner Not Sweating NBA Lockout


Turner Sports will continue to pay the National Basketball
Association in full, even if the league's lockout of NBA players continues into the
regular season.

A provision in the league's four-year, $890 million
NBA deal forces Turner to pay even if games are lost due to the lockout, which went into
effect last Wednesday, said Kevin O'Malley, senior vice president of programming for
Turner. He added, however, that the NBA will make up to Turner any telecasts that are lost
due to a work stoppage.

"We will make up those games during the season or over
the balance of the following season," O'Malley said.

The owners locked out the players after failing to reach a
labor agreement. While there were no new talks scheduled at press time, O'Malley said
he was confident that the two sides will reach an accord before the season begins.

"You never like to see something like this happen, but
the NBA and the players have an outstanding record of working these things out," he

O'Malley also doesn't expect the lockout to
affect negotiations with cable operators over a new licensing deal for Turner Network
Television. Despite losing the Sunday-night National Football League package to ESPN, the
network is proposing a 2-cent to 5-cent increase, while maintaining the
12-cent-per-subscriber, per-year surcharge that it imposed to pay for its NFL deal.

One operator who requested anonymity said the lockout could
become a problem if it jeopardizes a significant portion of the schedule, even though the
games would most likely be made up at a later date.

However, O'Malley scoffed at any negative operator

"You always have your ups and downs with sports, but
if the work stoppage lasts two days or two months, we'll get those games back,"
he said.

Meanwhile, Fox Sports and CBS may look to telecast
exhibition games featuring NBA players during the lockout, according to published reports.
Representatives from Fox Sports and CBS Sports could not be reached for comment at press

But O'Malley said such an arrangement
"doesn't seem likely," and he believes that fans would not accept such a