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CBS, ESPN in NCAA talks

CBS Sports and ESPN are said to be close to a deal that would -- in the event of
war with Iraq -- shift the bulk of NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament coverage to the
cable network.

The games would be CBS productions with CBS ads, and the shift would only
happen if war coverage pre-empted CBS' 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,

ESPN is pursuing conversations, a spokesman said, "for the sole purpose of
serving sports fans in what could be difficult and unique circumstances."

Why ESPN, which is co-owned with ABC, rather than one of CBS' own sibling
cable networks?

Unlike many of Viacom Inc.'s networks, ESPN has the ability to regionalize games, as
it does with coverage of the conference championships that help to determine the
March Madness contenders.