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FSN Promotes Reading

10/06/2006 8:00 PM Eastern

Kids in select local cable markets will be able to read about landmarks in their towns, their sports heroes and even their own schools in customized books to be distributed by affiliates of Fox Sports Networks.

Now in its second year, the Reading All-Stars program will feature local events in Plymouth, Minn., Las Vegas, Dallas, and Parkersburg, W. Va.

Executives at the regional sports networks acknowledge that there is some friction between the channels and local affiliates, as the programmer and area cable operators compete to sell local advertising to the same businesses.

“So this is exclusive for affiliates … our regional sports people will not be out there selling this,” said Tom Shoen, senior vice president of affiliate marketing for FSN.

Eight thousand books will be created and distributed. Using a software program, the publisher can plug in the names of local parks, participating schools as well as the names of players from professional sports teams participating in the promotion. Affiliates can use this application to add in the names of businesses that pay to support the effort.

Shoen said FSN is very sensitive to possible objections to ad-supported material for school distribution. The messages are subtle, he said, such as the use of the name of a grocery chain as a natural part of a story.

Affiliates can provide the books to advertisers, which may give them away to customers as a premium, or advertisers can sell them to raise money for local charities, he added.

Players from the Minnesota Wild National Hockey League squad and Major League Baseball's Texas Rangers and Pittsburgh Pirates are among the sports figures that will help support the local reading drives.

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