Chicago Cubs fans -- be they in Portland, Ore., or Portland, Maine,

or Ponca City -- are thoroughly serviced with blanket television

coverage of their favorite team.

The credit goes not to Chicago station WGN, but rather to a

business headquartered at 71st and Lewis.

In 1976, in a move considered moronic by others in the television

industry, Ted Turner decided to send the signal of his WTBS in Atlanta to a

satellite and sell the signal to cable systems. The first ``superstation''

was created. United Video liked the concept, and in 1978 the small Tulsa

company searched the nation for an attractive independent and discovered


WGN was not cooperative and even mounted a litigious challenge, but there

wasn't a law or FCC rule to prevent United -- now known as UVTV -- from

plucking and marketing the station's signal. In 1980, WGN truly became a

``superstation'' when it obtained Chicago Cubs broadcast rights.

In 1995, WGN is available in 35 million American homes and the

Cubs are among the more highly recognized of all pro sports

franchises. Their play-by-play announcer, the venerable Harry

Caray, is a hero to millions of sedentary beer drinkers.

UVTV's parent company, United Video Satellite Group, employs

more than 700 people and claims total assets of nearly $150

million. Since both parties have thrived, it would seem WGN and

UVTV would be corporate allies, but UVTV president Jeff Treeman

describes the relationship as ``not particularly friendly.''

``They feel like we're stealing the signal,'' Treeman said.

``Let me word this carefully -- WGN and we have gone from being

confrontational to being closely accommodating of each other.''

The process works like this: The television signal carries from WGN's

tower to a UVTV-owned satellite dish in Monee, Ill., then is bounced to an

orbiting satellite before being received by subscribing cable systems.

Eighty-five percent of the nation's cable systems carry WGN, and

UVTV is looking to soon penetrate two important markets --

Pittsburgh, Pa., and Manhattan, N.Y. If a cable operator wants WGN

on his menu, he doesn't call WGN. He places a call to the 918 area

code and deals with Treeman.

``WGN didn't like us when all this started and they came after us in

court, but we've never done anything that breaks any copyright laws,''

Treeman said. ``I just look at it as being a real success story all the way


* UVTV and Holden Productions, Inc., have formed a pay-per-view company

called ``Gloves Off.'' UVTV's first experience in the fight game happens on

Saturday, June 10, when heavyweights Tommy Morrison and Donovan ``Razor''

Ruddock clash in Kansas City. The show, which includes a Roberto Duran-Roni

Martinez undercard bout, has been priced at $29.95.

A boxing PPV program is considered a strong success when it is

bought in 300,000-plus households.

``I think we'll do between 200,000 and 300,000,'' Treeman said. ``We're

looking into boxing because we think there is revenue potential. If this is

a pleasant experience, we'll definitely do another bout.''

* ESPN's Al Bernstein and USA Today boxing writer Jon Saraceno

will provide ringside commentary during the Morrison-Ruddock fight.

``A lot of people have this pegged as a pick-'em fight, but I

have a strong feeling Morrison will win convincingly,'' Saraceno

said. ``He'll get a title shot if he knocks out Ruddock.''

* Through Wednesday night, when Orlando edged Indiana 108-106 in

yet another terrific postseason passion play, NBC's ratings for NBA

playoff games are 12 percent better than last year's. The network's

overall rating of 7.6 is the highest for the NBA playoffs since

1977. Each ratings point represents 954,000 television households.

Turner Sports also experienced a big ratings boost with its

45-game playoff package on TNT and TBS. Overall, Turner posted a

4.0 cable rating, which represents 2.5 million households per game.

* Don't call baseball's labor dispute a ``strike'' or ``work stoppage.''

Call it `'attempted suicide.''

Baseball attendance is down 27 percent and TV ratings have dropped 30


The national pastime this spring has been watching the spectacular play

of NBA stars Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal and Reggie

Miller. Meanwhile, the recent baseball highlights that have received the

heaviest play were Ken Griffey Jr. and Al Cole sustaining broken bones and

pitcher Norm Charlton taking a line drive between the eyes.

* Channel 6's John Walls joins Ron Franklin and the infamous Ben

Wright for ESPN's coverage of the NCAA Championship golf tournament

(cable 25, Friday 10 a.m.-noon, Saturday 1-3 p.m.).

* Another ESPN event -- the College World Series -- begins with

Friday's 2:35 p.m. Oklahoma-Florida State contest (Bob Rathbun

play-by-play, Steve Garvey on color). Mike Patrick and Fred Lynn

work the 6:35 Miami-Southern Cal game.

There won't be any Sooner radio coverage in Tulsa.

* A 30-minute golf show hosted by Bo Belcher will air on KAKC

am1300 each Thursday at 4 p.m.

Former New Orleans Saints announcer Dave Garrett has been

selected as the new play-by-play voice of the Dallas Cowboys after

a stormy four-month search.

Garrett, 35, who once worked with Cowboys coach Barry Switzer at

Oklahoma, agreed to a one-year contract with KVIL-FM in Dallas, the

Cowboys' flagship station. Garrett succeeds Brad Sham, who

broadcast Cowboys games for 19 seasons.

* Bill Land, the reigning Tulsa Sportscaster of the Year, and J.V.

Haney might resurface as co-hosts of a weekly television show. If

they can muster adequate advertising support, the program -- a

roundtable-discussion format with other media members and assorted

guests -- would be taped in a TCI Cablevision studio and run on

cable channel 9. No start date has been targeted.

KQLL am1430 canceled its Land-Haney morning call-in show on March 31.

``We're like turtles,'' Haney said. ``We'll pop up somewhere.''

* Tulsa's Bob Carpenter hasn't decided whether he'll return to

Jefferson-Pilot's college football play-by-play staff. Jefferson-Pilot

provides regional coverage of Southeastern Conference games.

Carpenter's currently works St. Louis Cardinal and ESPN baseball

telecasts. ``After the long haul of a baseball season ... I just don't know

about football,'' he said.