The Ackerley Group, which owns or operates 18 TV stations in addition to the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics, has agreed to buy Panasonic's high-definition production truck.
The 720p unit was used last season by ABC to produce Monday Night Football and the Super Bowl in HDTV as part of a subsidy arrangement between Panasonic and the network. But ABC and Panasonic have been unable to reach a similar deal for the 2000 NFL season, and Panasonic has been looking to unload the 53-foot unit, which cost $6 million.
Although final contracts haven't been signed, Ackerley has agreed to pay just under $5 million for the truck and associated hi-def cameras and should take delivery by the end of the month, says Ackerley co-President and COO Denis Curley. "It fits in very well with our existing media and entertainment holdings, especially the sports team we own."
Sources suggest that ABC is continuing to pursue a hi-def production truck deal for MNF with another partner.