NBA, AOL diagram new network play

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The National Basketball Association and AOL Time Warner reportedly are
discussing the creation of a jointly owned network that would carry most of the
NBA's cable TV contests.

The New York Times reports
that the league would put most of its cable menu on TNT, which could supplant
CNN/SI as AOL's cable sports net.

NBA games are currently carried on both TNT and TBS.

Turner Broadcasting representatives were keeping mum about prospective plans. 'We are not going to comment on specifics of our negotiations,' said Greg Hughes, a Turner Sports spokesman.

An NBA spokesman had no comment on the reported discussions about a new cable network deal.

The concept of a joint NBA network would counter the
traditional structure of a sports rights deal.

But it's a clear indication of the league's anticipation of a potential downturn in rights fees during its current negotiations, due to flagging ratings over the last four years.

The NBA is in the final year of a four-year, $890 million deal with TNT and TBS, and on the last go-round in its four-year $1.75 billion deal with NBC. - Richard Tedesco

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