Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Thursday, March 27, 2003 6:25 pm

Reason No. 5,684 why media consolidation is a bad idea

Filed under: Braves — Lex @ 6:25 pm

The Atlanta Braves, owned by Turner Broadcasting, owned by Turner Inc., owned by AOL/Time-Warner (I think I’ve got that hierarchy right), have informed announcers Skip Caray and Pete Van Wieren, who have announced Braves games on TBS for 28 years, that they won’t be doing that job this year.

The reason is that TBS is trying to make its major-league baseball broadcasts more “national” — i.e., it wants to be thought of as a “major-league baseball” channel rather than simply “the Braves channel,” although it nonetheless will carry 90 of the team’s 162 games this year.

Tim Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution mentions some reasons why this is, if not a horrible idea (which is what I think it is), both odd and a betrayal of TBS’ roots. For one thing, TBS became a national network in the early days of cable in large part by convincing much of America that the Braves were America’s team. (Ted Turner originally bought the Braves to provide a source of programming for TBS.)

TBS owes its success to its identity as an outlet for the Braves, pure and simple. TBS and the Braves, combined, are a brand. And if a brand is successful, which this one has been, you don’t mess with it.

What has this to do with Caray and Van Wieren? Apparently company officials consider the two “too closely identified” with the Braves to be likely to succeed on a cable network focusing on “major-league baseball.” Skip, bless him, said: “I was told I am too closely identified with the Braves — which, if true, is a nice compliment.”

Skip and Pete aren’t being fired; they’ll just be relegated to radio, while Don Sutton and Joe Simpson, who have been used to splitting TV and radio duties with Pete and Skip, will do TBS broadcasts full-time.

But something tells me longtime Braves fans aren’t gonna care for this at all. I know I don’t.

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