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Empire Sports Network Will Cease Operation

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – The Empire Sports Network will cease operations in March. Adelphia Communications announced Wednesday it's pulling the plug on the 14-year-old regional sports network because of mounting financial losses.

The Empire Sports Network had a big impact on the local sports scene. Unlike traditional TV newscasts, which devote just three to four minutes to sports, Empire presented a full half-hour of coverage.

But all that came to an end Wednesday when Adelphia announced Empire would cease operations. The nightly Empire Sports Report was immediately dropped. The rest of the programming will disappear March 7th.

Adelphia Area Vice President Tom Haywood said 30 of the network 36 employees were laid off Wednesday.

"We looked at the economics of Empire Sports. Over the years, it had been losing millions of dollars," Haywood said. "Unfortunately, we can't continue to operate a network that is losing so much money."

Empire was the television home of the Buffalo Sabres. If and when the NHL lockout ends, Haywood says Sabres games will move to the MSG Network. He says all games will be available to Adelphia subscribers, even if a Sabres game conflicts with games of MSG's other sports teams.

"Well, if there is a scheduling problem, we would place the Sabres on our local origination channel 13 so that our customers are able to see it," Haywood said. "But talking with the MSG people, that probably will not happen that often."

Beginning on March 7th, the NFL Network will replace Empire on Adelphia's area cable systems.