Less than a year after it was launched to satisfy the appetite of the score-and-highlight-hungry fan, Mizlou Communications' Sports News Network is in danger of collapse.
If $20 million isn't invested in the cable network in the next four weeks, staff members were told this week, SNN would be forced to shut down.
The 24-hour, all-sports network can be seen in 35 percent of the nation's 50 million cable households. Thirteen of the nation's 30 largest multisystem cable operators have subscribed to the network, which was launched on Feb. 1. Media General Cable in Fairfax County, with 173,000 subscribers, is the only capital area system to carry it.
Mizlou's search for a major investor has been unsuccessful. Groups mentioned as potential buyers are Gannett, Disney and COMSAT, purchaser of the NBA's Denver Nuggets last year. Employees were told at a mandatory meeting Monday that in a worst-case scenario the network would have to close at the end of October.
SNN will stay on schedule and, as planned, move all operations into a new facility in Edison, N.J., at the end of this month, Executive Vice President Jon Steinlauf said. SNN has been leasing space in the Gannett Building in Rosslyn.
Meanwhile, three anchors -- Terry Chick, Wally Bruckner and Kevin Christopher -- were disciplined for missing shifts last Friday night.
Chick, a former CNN anchor, was released from his contract, which was to expire in December. Bruckner was suspended 10 days and Christopher one week, both without pay.
"They didn't show up for a show and we weren't happy with their excuses," said Brad Fuss, vice president for programming/production.
Fuss would not elaborate, but sources said Chick got into a scuffle with a coordinating producer. Chick was unavailable to comment.