The reason tonight's Virginia-North Carolina basketball game will not be shown on WJLA-TV-7 is simple: The station would rather show "Three's Company," "Too Close for Comfort" and "Hart to Hart."
Although the game is being televised on C.D. Chesley's ACC network, which has a contract with WJLA-TV-7, the station picks the games it wants to show.
"Our major concern above and beyond showing the games is our license and contract with ABC," said Carol Myers, program director. "We had a lot of preemptions for basketball and other programs in December and January. lBut we have to draw the line at some point. When it comes to preempting, the network and some public affairs programming require a priority."
WJLA's contract with Chesley covers only a partial package. None of this month's four televised ACC night games (read: prime time) will be on the station.
This also is the time of year of the so-called ratings sweeps, when networks load their schedules with attractive movies and new series.
"I'd hate to preempt 'Jaws II for a basketball game," Myers said.
Myers said WDCA-TV-20 had the option of picking up any games not shown on WJLA-TV-7, as it did last year. But Suzanne Horenstein, WDCA program director, denied that.
"We don't have the rights to those games," said Horenstein, who noted that tonight's Washington Bullet telecast would have ruled out the college game anyway.
Sources say Chesley soured on WDCA because its signal is picked up by cable stations and games have been shown free in areas other than the intended market. And, Chesley reportedly is angry at WDCA for telecasting Maryland basketball games on the local Metro Sports network, in competition with his ACC telecasts.
But Chesley, who refused public comment on these allegations, said he "might have considered" a request by WDCA to show tonight's game and possibly others.
Horenstein said she hasn't made any requests for specific games. "It never occurred to me to ask for any game in particular," she said. "If that's the case, then maybe I didn't do the right thing. But they assured me they'd call me if anything came up."