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Sports on the Air: Bills simulcasts delayed; Donald Jones named Murphy's co-host

This is a Sports on the Air special:

After further review, the Buffalo Bills preseason game with the New York Giants at 4 p.m. today carried on Channel 7 and the two final preseason games airing on the ABC affiliate won’t be simulcast on MSG.

You may recall, simulcasting was the plan in the new television deal announced earlier this summer between Pegula Sports and Entertainment and MSG to televise Buffalo Sabres game and create MSG WNY .

But Marc Honan, the Bills senior vice president of media and content, said Friday that the deal – which gave PSE an annual rights fee of $19 million to $20 million -- came too late to simulcast this summer’s preseason games on MSG under National Football League guidelines. The plan is to do it under NFL guidelines by next season.

Andrew Catalon, who was an announcer on tennis for NBC during the Rio Games, will be the play-by-play man on the next three Bills games with Steve Tasker, his partner on CBS broadcasts. Rob Stone worked the preseason opener against Indianapolis with Tasker while Catalon was in Rio.

PSE announced Friday that former Bills receiver Donald Jones will be the co-host of “The John Murphy Show” starting on Monday. Jones had been on Murphy’s show several times in what could now be considered a tryout. He played for the Bills for three years in a career that was cut short by kidney disease.

Inquiring minds want to know: When does Murphy’s program and other Bills and Sabres programming start being simulcast on MSG-WNY? The plan is to start doing it in October.

Inquiring minds also want to know: Why wasn’t the Pittsburgh Steelers’ preseason game with Philadelphia Thursday night carried on cable locally via The NFL Network. According to a NFL Network spokesman, the league protects the telecasts of local affiliates that carry the games from being shown in markets adjacent to them even if viewers elsewhere can’t get the signal. In this case, Pittsburgh is considered close enough to Buffalo – it is about a 3 hour, 20 minute ride – to get protection here.

Yes, it’s a dumb rule. Why would anyone want to blackout a preseason game, especially since regular season games can no longer be blacked out in home markets. Heck, even some Bills season ticketholders have trouble giving away the tickets to preseason games.

Of course, the NFL isn’t alone in this stupidly. Major league baseball often considers Buffalo a home market of teams hundreds of miles from here.

Speaking of NFL blackout rules, The NFL Network coverage of the Bills game today should be blacked out in Western New York to protect Channel 7, the rights-holder here.

Some people on Twitter locally were upset that NBC's announcers on the pole vault didn't emphasize the health issue that Olympic pole vaulter Jenn Suhr was trying to overcome during the Fredonia native's event Friday night. In fairness, the analyst did say on Suhr's first televised vault that her husband Rick had told him that she was "under the weather." It would have been appropriate to repeat that and explain what she had been going through after she finished out of the medals. It wasn't. But it had been addressed earlier.

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