NBC, Fox choosing baseball over debates

Saturday, September 23rd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ The first presidential debate between George W. Bush and Al Gore won't be carried on two of the four biggest broadcast networks.

NBC will broadcast a divisional baseball playoff game instead of the scheduled debate on Oct. 3 and Fox has decided to show entertainment programming that night, according to executives at both networks.

Fox's corporate partner, the Fox News Channel, will carry the debate, said Preston Beckman, an executive vice president at Fox.

Television contracts with Major League Baseball require networks to broadcast the game if there are any conflicts with debates, said Barbara Levin, NBC News spokeswoman. The presidential commission organizing the debates was aware of this, she said.

``We have no choice,'' Levin said.

The debate is still expected to be widely available on ABC, CBS, public broadcasting stations and the three cable news networks _ CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC. NBC will air the debate at 9 p.m. on the West Coast after the conclusion of the baseball game, Levin said.

Both CBS in 1992 and Fox in 1996 carried baseball games instead of presidential debates, she said.

Fox is scheduled to broadcast baseball during the next two scheduled debates: the Oct. 5 matchup between the vice presidential candidates and the second Bush-Gore challenge, on Oct. 11.

The last presidential debate is scheduled for Oct. 17. That would conflict with Game 6 of the baseball World Series, which is to be broadcast on NBC if the series lasts that long. NBC will show baseball that night if there is a conflict, Levin said.