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Turner, Disney hoop it up

The National Basketball Association Tuesday finally took the wrapper off its
new six-year TV deal with AOL Time Warner Inc.'s Turner Sports and The Walt
Disney Co.'s ABC and ESPN.

The combined contract, which starts next season, is reportedly worth as much
as $4.5 billion, with ABC/ESPN ponying up $2.4 billion for the broadcast portion
and Turner's cable share valued at about $2.1 billion.

As part of the Turner package, AOL Time Warner and the NBA will create a new
jointly owned sports channel, slated to debut in 2002-2003.

The two sides said the channel -- to be called either All Sports Network or
National Sports Network -- will be an alternative to ESPN, airing 96 NBA games,
along with other sports programming and news.

Turner Network Television will carry 52 regular-season games and 45 playoff
games, including one of the conference finals, as well as the NBA All-Star

Turner's deal was sweetened by exclusivity for its TNT telecasts. When TNT
airs a game, there won't be any other regionally or locally televised

'The value of the package is more akin to benefits on the broadcast side that
NBC has enjoyed,' Turner Sports president Mark Lazarus said Tuesday on a
conference call.

Disney's deal gives ESPN the rights to 75 games, the NBA Draft and one
conference final, while ABC will broadcast 15 Sunday-afternoon contests and the
NBA Finals. Postgame shows will air on ABC Family. ESPN2 will experiment on
Tuesday nights with NBANight in America, which will drop in on
several games across the league.