The Sports Must Go On

New York— CBS Sports and ESPN are said to be close to a deal that, in the event of war with Iraq, would shift the bulk of coverage of the NCAA men's basketball tournament to the cable network. The games would still be CBS productions with CBS advertising, but the shift would happen only if war coverage preempted CBS's own airwaves. "It looks likely that we will work out a deal with ESPN," a CBS Sports spokesperson said Friday. ESPN would have to work out technical difficulties and programming conflicts, though. The sports net is pursuing conversations, a spokesman said, "for the sole purpose of serving sports fans in what could be difficult and unique circumstances."

Cronkite Awards

Los Angeles— The University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Journalism will today unveil winners of its Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism awards. The awards, given for coverage of the 2002 election, will go to Hearst-Argyle Television; NBC News'Meet the Press; WFAA-TV Dallas; KING-TV Seattle; Wisconsin Public Television; KMTV Omaha, Neb.; Nebraska ETV Network; News 8 Austin (Texas); Jay Warren at WSLS-TV Roanoke, Va.; Randy Shandobil at KTVU-TV Oakland, Calif.; and WCPO-TV Cincinnati. Awards will be handed out at a ceremony April 8 in Las Vegas when the National Association of Broadcasters and Radio-Television News Directors Association gather for their annual conventions.

Fox, TW Settle Sports-Carriage Flap

New York— Fox Sports Net and Time Warner Cable settled carriage disputes over Fox Sports Net North, Minnesota, and Sunshine Network, Florida, both of which went dark on New Year's Day when distribution deals lapsed. Fox Sports and Time Warner reached long-term deals for both, although terms were not disclosed.