NCAA Tourney Bidding Begins


CBS, Disney's ABC-ESPN and Fox networks began presentations Wednesday, hoping to win television rights to the NCAA men's basketball tournament after the CBS contract expires in 2002.

The presentations to NCAA executives at the organization's headquarters will continue for one more day and an announcement is expected Thursday night.

The winning bid is expected to be worth about $400 million a year. CBS is in the fourth year of a seven-year, $1.73 billion contract. But the NCAA has elected to negotiate a new deal, which is to begin in 2003 and is expected to include marketing rights.

Renfro said the presentations involve a broad range of topics but he would not discuss any details of the bids.

The NCAA ended CBS' exclusive negotiating period in August. The network has broadcast the event since 1982, when it acquired the tournament from NBC. It added the early rounds, which had been broadcast by ESPN, in 1990.

"We remain interested and feel the college basketball fan would be best served with an ESPN-ABC package," ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys said Monday.

ESPN has said the advantage of having Disney broadcast the tournament is that more games could be shown nationally.

CBS, which declined to comment, regionalizes games in the early rounds, but it could team with a cable partner to do so.

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