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TV exec gets the Browns'message



Published: Fri, January 11, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



YOUNGSTOWN -- Roland Adeszko, general manager for television station WKBN Channel 27, has heard from Cleveland Browns fans in the Valley and will do everything in his power to appease them next season.

On Dec. 30, WKBN televised the Pittsburgh Steelers-Cincinnati Bengals game and not the Cleveland Browns-Tennessee Titans game. The station's phones rang off the hook in protest.

To some, the fuss may be hard to comprehend because many cable systems carry more than one CBS affiliate (usually, Cleveland's WOIO Channel 19 or Pittsburgh's KDKA Channel 2).

If Channel 27 carried the Browns, which was just about every week this season, Channel 2 still had the Steelers.

And on the one day when the Steelers aired on Channel 27 instead of the Browns, Channel 19 carried the Cleveland game.

But in Mahoning County, the only CBS station cable subscribers receive is Channel 27. So when the Browns and Steelers play at the same time and CBS has the rights to both games, one team is blacked out.

The NFL and CBS consider Youngstown to be a Browns market. Thus, the blacked-out team is almost always the Steelers.

And let's face it, even though the Steelers have been the superior team for most of the past 30 years, Browns fans out-number Steelers backers in the Valley.

Playoff factor: So what caused the commotion? Adeszko says CBS and the NFL wanted the Steelers game on Channel 27 that day because their game had an impact on the AFC playoff race.

The Steelers were trying to secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Browns had already been eliminated from playoff contention two days before Christmas with a loss at Green Bay. The Titans also were out of playoff contention.

That game meant zilch to the playoff race.

Adeszko says WKBN received calls while the Steelers game aired. More came in the next day. So did e-mails.

Two things added fuel to the fire -- not only did the Browns win, but they did it with their best offensive output in three years.

Adeszko says Steelers fans have never registered such a fuss (probably because they are used to Pittsburgh games being blacked out).

Before next season, Adeszko says he will do everything in his power to get the NFL and CBS to stick with the Browns whenever the two teams play at the same time.

Fortunately, those conflicts should be fewer next year.

At 13-3 with the AFC's best record, the NFL will likely showcase the Steelers with at least two Monday Night Football appearances and perhaps a Sunday night game or a Saturday game in late December.

And with the Browns on the rise, they're due to make their first Monday appearance since 1995.

Prime-time: No one should be surprised that the NFL and the television networks have moved some of this year's playoff games to prime-time telecasts.

Saturday's New York Jets-Oakland Raiders game will be shown by ABC beginning at 8 p.m., pre-empting a low-rated movie.

The following Saturday, CBS will pre-empt its prime-time lineup to show the game from New England.

The AFC and NFC championship games on Jan. 27 remain afternoon telecasts (12:30 and 4 p.m. kickoffs).

But if two West Coast teams are the hosts, the games could be pushed back two hours.

XTom Williams is a sportswriter for The Vindicator. Write to him at williams@vindy.com.




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