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TNN Parks NASCAR Unit

The National Association for Stock Car Racing's transition from TNN: The National Network to Turner Sports continued last week.

TNN announced the elimination of its NASCAR-oriented production company, while Turner Network Television outlined a new technological feature for its upcoming stock-car racing telecasts.

TNN's Charlotte-based World Sports Enterprises will cease production operations as of Dec. 1, said company officials. TNN could no longer justify the operational costs for the company, which handled most of its NASCAR race coverage and the network's other motor sports telecasts. TNN lost its NASCAR cable rights to Fox Broadcasting Co., NBC and Turner Sports last year in an eight-year, $3 billion broadcast-and-cable deal.

"NASCAR race coverage generated the majority of WSE's revenue, so without NASCAR, we can't justify our in-house motor sports production operations for the long term," TNN senior vice president of sports and outdoors Brian Hughes said in a statement.

The network said it would solicit bids for TNN sports coverage currently handled through WSE, including the American Speed Association stock-car series, although it's unclear when a decision will be made.

Meanwhile, TBS Superstation said it would offer viewers a picture-in-picture view of races during commercial breaks.

The format, which began with TBS' United Auto Workers-General Motors Corp. "Quality 500" race last Sunday, squeezes a custom-designed picture-in-picture frame into a commercial, so viewers can watch both presentations. The innovation marks the first time a NASCAR race will be broadcast with virtually no commercial breaks.

"Race fans will almost never have to miss a minute of the action while watching Winston Cup races on TBS," Turner Sports President Mark Lazarus said in a statement. "This is only the first of several efforts that TBS and NBC will make under the new contract in an effort to better deliver great races to a very loyal audience.''

But some advertisers aren't pleased. "I'm concerned that the feature detracts from the advertising message," one executive said.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.