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Bye bye, CNN/SI

It will be replaced by NBA joint venture, dubbed AOL Sports 1/13/2002 07:00:00 PM Eastern

After sputtering for five years, AOL Time Warner's CNN/SI (for Sports Illustrated) will shutter by the fall, making room for a new sports channel jointly owned by the media giant and the National Basketball Association.

Last week, about 190 CNN/SI staffers, the bulk of the Atlanta-based operation, were told they'll lose their jobs when the new channel launches. That date's not known yet.

"We hit distribution hurdles we didn't anticipate," said CNN/SI Executive Vice President and General Manager Steve Robinson. "We pushed and pushed, but it was decided a different strategy was needed to acquire the distribution."

CNN/SI currently counts about 20 million analog and digital subscribers.

The new net, tentatively named AOL Sports and to be based in New York or Atlanta, is a cornerstone of a six-year TV deal the two sides are still hammering out.

Some CNN/SI employees will be reassigned to other CNN units; others will have to re-interview for positions with the new net. They'll receive severance pay if they stay on until the relaunch.

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