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FIRST OFF . . .

<i> Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press</i>

There’s a new sport on the networks: Who’s paying too much for what. Over the weekend, NBC President Robert Wright charged that CBS had bid way too high--$1.1 billion--to purchase exclusive network rights to cover major league baseball, thus wresting coverage away from NBC and ABC come 1990. On Tuesday, CBS sports chief Neal Pilson, addressing the nation’s TV writers and critics at the annual winter press tour here, called Wright’s accusation simple sour grapes. “I never heard him (Wright) disparage baseball at NBC or ABC during the many years they had the sport. Now they are trashing it,” Pilson said. He stated that having exclusive network rights to the World Series would give currently third-place CBS “the opportunity to start off the season in first place.” And he further noted that NBC, in paying $401 million for the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, “is spending half the amount we spent for four years of baseball for 16 days” of Olympic competition.


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