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The word being whispered around by boxing insiders was that Senator Estes Kefauver wasn't really going to have his subcommittee investigate the fight game after all. But the insiders, as usual, seemed wrong.
"Wishful thinking by the boxing underworld," said the Senator last week when the whispers reached him. The Senate's civil rights filibuster had delayed the hearings, he explained, but "this should not be confused with a lack of resolution on my part to pursue the boxing investigation. I can assure you that enough material has been amassed to hold hearings."
Would boxing puppet-master James D. Norris be called to testify? "I can unequivocally state that no one, including Mr. Norris, has immunity," Kefauver said.
ABC Puts on a Sprint
You don't have to be a trend spotter or the son of a trend spotter to spot conscience-stricken television's trend toward more and more hours of sport. ABC (gross billings: $126 million) is making a particularly remarkable sprint this spring in an attempt to overhaul its big rivals CBS (gross billings: $266 million) and NBC ($235 million).
Not only has ABC outbid NBC ($6.3 million to $5.2 million) for the exclusive rights to broadcast major college football games this fall and next, but it has greatly increased its stakes in baseball and boxing. On all these fronts ABC the other day became the partner of the Gillette Safety Razor Co., the country's No. 1 sports advertiser, with the signing of an $8.5 million contract for a year-round package.
Besides 50 weeks of boxing starting in October and the 13 afternoons of football, the contract between ABC and Gillette calls for 25 Saturday afternoon baseball games beginning this month.
Now ABC, bidding against NBC, is trying to get TV rights to 56 American Football League games; those nationally televised will be shown Saturday nights and Sundays.
"TV was born to do sports," says Tom Moore, ABC's vice-president. "No programming we can devise has anything like its direct appeal. Its ratings grow and grow and grow. It even beats out westerns."