We interrupt this program to bring you ... SPORTS!

by Frank Rossi

You know, I don't watch much TV, so when I have certain shows I want to see, I expect to be able to watch them on a regular basis.

Ever watch UPN?

UPN is Houston's Paramount station, Channel 20, and it seems like all they care about is sports, sports -- SPORTS!!!

They carry THREE -- count `em, three -- sports: basketball (Rockets), hockey (Aeros) and now, with spring in bloom, baseball (Astros).

And it seems like every night, part or all of UPN's prime-time schedule is pre-empted by one of these sports, and I'm sick of it.

I don't watch prime-time TV on the "major" networks. As a newspaper copy editor, I always work at night, but I tape three shows on UPN: Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Babylon 5.

I say sports should be on separate channels, like ESPN and HSE.

"Yeah, but then the games wouldn't be free, column-boy!"

Well, tough. Life's no picnic, there's no free lunch -- and that's column-MAN to you, buddy!

At least UPN will show my pre-empted series on another day of the week, unlike the main networks: ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox. They'll pre-empt a night of weekly series to show a film that's been at Blockbuster on video and on cable forever. What a waste. This is what The Movie Channel and HBO are for, you network pinheads!

This is why a series like American Gothic died. When new shows get bumped for specials and movies of the week, they can't hold on to an audience.

Networks have to make up their minds: Either they are going to be sports channels, movie channels or run weekly series.

"But column-MAN, then there won't be any variety on the FREE networks. Variety is, after all, the spice of life."

That's what's wrong with this country. Businesses in general are trying to please everyone to attract as many people as possible, thereby creating overall mediocrity in their respective market segments.

There's actually a store in Austin that carries the following:

*162 varieties of mustard

*200 varieties of olive oil

*20 varieties of vinegar

*100 varieties of pasta sauce

*2,200 varieties of wine

Now come on, people!

Magazines wisely segmented a long time ago. Check out any magazine stand, and you'll find that almost every magazine caters to a very narrow cross-section, e.g. hunters, bikers, runners, news hounds, computer owners, automobile enthusiasts, etc.

Radio stations also attack certain niches. You've got your adult contemporary stations like Mix 96.5 (Bolton, Mariah, etc.), your urban contemporary stations like 97.9 The Box (Coolio, Ice-T, etc.) and country stations like KIKK The Klan -- oops, just kidding (Garth, Billy Ray, etc.)

So why can't TV be like magazines and radio stations? Find out on the next 20/20 -- if it's not bumped.

Rossi is an alumnus who demands to see "Klingons on the starboard bow, starboard bow, starboard bow..." now!

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