The chairman of the House subcommittee on communications yesterday questioned the policy under which the scoring of the Muhammad Ali-Earnie Shavers heavyweight boxing bout last night was to be shown after every round on television but not to the customers in Madison Square Garden.
Usually, the results of the scoring of a flight by the three ring officials is not announced until after the bout is finished.
The National Broadcasting Company bought the rights to telecast the bout from the Garden for about $4 million and with it the right to lift the customary blackout in the city where a fight originates and the right to show the scoring round by round.
After the weighing-in of the fighters on Wednesday, the scoring arrangement was announced. In addition, the press was told there would be a code devised to keep reporters at ringside informed of the scoring after every round by flashing certain signals on the Garden scoreboard. But later a Garden official said the code would not be used because it was feared the handlers of the fighters would break it.
Frank Morris, deputy commissioner of the New York State Athletic Commission, was asked today if he were aware that reporters would be denied on-the-spot information about the scoring the same time it would be transmitted to millions of television watchers.
He said that the athletic commission "never" has permitted such information to be given inside an arena in the state.
Rep. Lionel Van Deerlin (D-Calif.), chairman of the House subcommittee on communications, said hearings will begin Monday in Washington on the relations between television networks and professional and amateur sports.
He said of the scoring information being given to television watchers but withheld from those in the Garden until after the bout, "clearly, it is in the realm of public information. I'd like to hear the justification for this."
The House subcommittee and the FCC are expected to focus on the control of sports figures or sports by the networks.
FANS, an organization which Ralph Nader announced on Tuesday was formed to speak for the customers in sports said through a spokesman that the action about the scoring in the flight, "is an excellent example of the arrogance of sports owners, entrepreneurs and promoters."
Peter Gruenstein, executive director of FANS, said of the handling of the information for tonight's Ali-Shavers bout, "can you imagine another business or industry contemplating charging outrageous prices ($20 to $100 for tickets at the Garden) and then providing service to those fans inferior to that given those watching free on television?
"Another issue is that of maybe false or bad-faith advertising, if the ticket buyers did not know about this arrangement before hand. Are they going to give ticket refunds. Did they tell the (Garden) fans beforehand?
"A fan can say, 'if I had known about this scoring arrangement, I might have gone to a hotel room and watched on free television rather than buy a ticket to the Garden.'"