Tape of ethnic slur in '91 adds to Wright controversy


Attempting to cash in on the controversy surrounding Ben Wright, a Portland, Ore., television station produced four-year old footage of the CBS golf analyst calling Jumbo Ozaki, a Japanese golfer, a "Jap" during Masters coverage.

KOIN-TV, the CBS affiliate in Portland, aired a tape of the first round of the 1991 Masters, in which Wright said, "Former champions aplenty, Watson and Nicklaus at 4-under with the Jap Ozaki, who is striking a blow for the foreigners."

A network spokeswoman said the comment, made on USA Network during CBS-produced coverage of the tournament, had been discussed at the time it was made and that CBS would have nothing more to say about it.

Wright, as you'll remember, allegedly made controversial comments about lesbians and the playing ability of women on the golf tour late last week to a reporter from the Wilmington (Del.) News-Journal.

Wright has vehemently denied making the remarks, and CBS Sports president David Kenin said in a statement that he is "convinced that the offensive statements attributed to Mr. Wright were not made." The newspaper says it stands by its story.

Ratings roundup

Once again, the Orioles and the NBA playoffs led last weekend's ratings pack, according to Channel 11's Sharon Walz, the station's numbers cruncher and this week's sole and official "On the Air" ratings provider.

Last Friday's Orioles-Indians game got an 11.6 rating and a 21 share of the available audience for Channel 13, making it the most watched sporting event of the weekend.

The station pre-empted CBS' prime-time lineup, which included the Miss Universe pageant, an unusual move during the May sweeps, when networks traditionally air some of their strongest programming to boost ratings.

Last year's pageant got an 8/15 for Channel 11, which was the CBS carrier in Baltimore at the time. Still, the Friday game's rating was sharply down from the 16 that a similarly scheduled Orioles game got last year.

Saturday's NBA playoff doubleheader won the day for Channel 11, and Sunday's Mother's Day tripleheader was even stronger. The opening game, Houston-Phoenix did a 10/22, while the San Antonio-Los Angeles clash got a 9.2/20. The third game, Orlando-Chicago, got a 10.6/20. All three numbers are roughly equivalent to what regular-season NFL games get here, suggesting that folks really like their playoffs in Baltimore.

Finally, hockey posted its best numbers of the season here Sunday, as the Washington-Pittsburgh game did a 2.2/5 for Channel 45, which has been taking a beating on NHL telecasts since they debuted in early April.

Montana to join NBC

As had been rumored, recently retired quarterback Joe Montana has signed a deal with NBC for studio duties on its NFL telecasts next season. Montana and the network are expected to explain his role during a conference call today.

Looking at the signs

The NHL and Fox are reportedly considering installing those rolling signs that are so prevalent at NBA games for the Eastern and Western Conference championship series and the Stanley Cup finals, when the network will have exclusivity on its telecasts.

According to a story that first appeared in this week's BrandWeek magazine, Dorna's Ad Time, the company that manufactures the signs, would like to place them next to the team benches and behind each net.

The company would leave the signs in place for each team to sell during non-Fox games.

An industry source said the plan is contingent on which teams advance and how conducive their respective arenas are to the rolling signage. The network will control eight of the 36 signs in each of the arenas for the final two playoff rounds.

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