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"The word aggressive has now been replaced by the word reckless." -- NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol, after losing high-stakes bidding war for Monday Night Football to ABCEDITED BY LARRY LIGHT & ROBERT McNATTReturn to top

COMPAQ ABANDONS THE COUCH POTATOES

IT'S FADE TO BLACK FOR Compaq Computer's PC-TV combo. Just eight months after the computer maker launched its lavishly outfited PC Theatre into consumer electronics stores to compete against Gateway 2000's Destination PC-TV, weak sales have prompted the company to pull the plug.

Compaq jointly developed the $5,000-and-up device with Thomson Consumer Electronics, maker of RCA and other TV brands. The two companies developed special hardware and software that let the TV do double duty as a computer display. A cordless keyboard lets customers write E-mail or cruise the Internet while watching TV in a window on the screen.

Production of new units has been halted, and the remaining PC Theatre 9100s have been sold to a mail-order company, says a Compaq spokesman. It wasn't just customer resistance to the price, either, that did in the PC Theatre. According to the spokesman, retailers weren't sure whether to market the device alongside PCs or big-screen TVs. Meanwhile, rival Gateway is doing better by selling its Destination PC TV for less money--as low as $2,500--and through the mail.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT & ROBERT McNATT Gary McWilliamsReturn to top

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DISORDER ON THE COURT

ON THE COURT, THE RIVALRY between top tennis pros Martina Hingis and Steffi Graf presages an upcoming season full of fireworks. But behind the scenes of the Women's Tennis Association, equally intense rivalries threaten to tear apart this year's tour as it faces the loss of a critical sponsor and a civil war among its players.

Central to the mess is Patricia Hy-Boulais, ranked 64th by the WTA and elected president of its Players' Assn. last fall. She wants lower ranked WTA players to have a bigger cut of the tour's $40 million prize pool. Her first move was to fire several Association business advisers.

Rebellion ensued. Top players paraded at one tournament wearing T-shirts saying: "If you want to win, practice harder." Meanwhile, Corel, a Canadian software company that is the title sponsor of the WTA tour, said it wouldn't renew its sponsorship in 1998. A new WTA CEO brought in to make peace left before his first day at work. And Hy-Boulais is now in a legal battle to stay head of the union. She declined to comment.

Now it's up to the new WTA president, Bart McGuire, former outside counsel for the WTA, to resolve the chaos. By next season, a hard-fought baseline rally may seem tame.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT & ROBERT McNATT Brad WolvertonReturn to top

WHAT'S IN A NAME? ASK 3COM

IS MICROSOFT FACING charges of being the bad boy of technology yet again? Yep. But this time, 3Com's the one crying foul.

3Com wasn't upset on Jan. 7 when Microsoft introduced a handheld PC modeled on its best-selling PalmPilot. The entry of a big company like Microsoft, it said, meant consumers would be reassured about the still-fledgling category of pocket-size computers. The new models use Windows CE software and will be sold by such companies as Philips, Samsung, and Casio, which makes the Cassiopeia.

But 3Com, whose version uses its own PalmOS software, was furious when Microsoft decided to call its design the "Palm PC." 3Com has already trademarked "Palm Computing" and "Palm Pilot." "Microsoft should be ashamed of itself," says Donna Dubinsky, president of 3Com's Palm Computing subsidiary. "It's bad enough that they have to copy everybody's products, but do they have to copy the name?"

The company says it may go ahead and sue Microsoft. Meanwhile, Microsoft executive Roger Gulrajani pooh-poohs the problem. "Palm," he says, is simply a generic term for a device held in one's hand.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT & ROBERT McNATT Steve WildstromReturn to top


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