NBA season tips off Tues, and TNT and ESPN/ABC will again vie for cable supremacy in roundball. Leading off with a Halloween double-header featuring Shaq, Kobe and Steve Nash, veteran TNT will provide in its 23rd season of NBA coverage 52 regular season tilts, the ’07 NBA All-Star Game from Las Vegas, and the Eastern Conference Finals. ESPN will counter with a Wed double threat of its own-featuring LeBron James and Nash (a busy man) in successive contests-and a slate of 90 games (19 on ABC), all to be available in HD. Both nets have exclusive day parts (Thurs nights for TNT, Sun afternoons for ABC), but Turner’s entrenched and popular broadcast team remains static, while ESPN drafted a slew of new players. Recently-retired players Jamal Mashburn and Allan Houston head a new talent pool that "will add credibility and a connection to fans," said ESPN evp Norby Williamson. ESPN/ABC is also putting games on ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Intl. "You are going to see with the NBA a surround approach where we apply what we learned with Monday Night Football," said Williamson. "We’re going to educate on the NBA anytime and on any device." Meantime TNT will again provide free-of-charge its linear show "Inside the NBA" on its "TNT OverTime" broadband channel at nba.com, and more online features will likely follow, said David Levy, pres, Turner Sports. "Last year we launched our first foray into broadband coverage to great success, and there will be a larger commitment to broadband this year," he said. "We are looking to extend our presence outside nba.com and tnt.tv for greater distribution." Both nets claim NBA ad sales are tracking higher than last year.

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FCC Meeting Dispatch

FCC chmn Ajit Pai would not confirm whether or not he will be leaving the Commission before the end of the year when asked during a press conference Wednesday. “I have made no decisions and I do not have any

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