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Air Time for High School Athletics

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The national group representing state high-school athletic associations has entered negotiations with several cable-television firms over a possible multimillion-dollar contract to broadcast high-school basketball games and possibly other sports events.

Warren Brown, assistant executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations, said last week that the group was "interested in developing high-school sports programming and has been in contact with several cable networks."

"Our interest is in promoting the positive values of high-school sports, and we believe that this a good way to do it," he added.

Although Mr. Brown declined to say how much such a contract might be worth, recent similar transactions suggest that it could net the association millions of dollars.

Last month, the espn cable-television company won a $400-million, four-year contract to provide coverage of major-league baseball games. Last December, CBS Inc. agreed to pay $1.1 billion under a similar baseball contract.

Mr. Brown declined to say how the revenues from such a contract might be distributed among the association's member groups. He also declined to comment on published reports that the contract might lead to the creation of a national high-school basketball tournament similar to the one conducted by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

A spokesman for SportsChannel America, a New York-based cable firm with 6.2 million subscribers, confirmed that the company "has had discussions" with the high-school group.

"We've done about five high-school basketball games this season and we feel they've been successful," said the spokesman, Daniel Martinson.

"I can only say we feel there are great possibilities in televising high-school basketball," he added.

SportsChannel recently paid the National Hockey League $15 million for an exclusive three-year contract to broadcast regular-season, all-star, and championship games, Mr. Martinson said.


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