Of the three major television networks, ABC faces the greatest financial risk because of its sports coverage, Smith Barney analyst Edward J. Atorino says. ``Monday night football is the cornerstone of that night's programming,'' he says. So if ABC lost that programming or saw ratings plummet (the game now mainly attracts a male audience), it would have to come up with two to three hours of programming to replace it, Mr. Atorino says. One compensating factor: ABC, which is owned by Capital Cities Communications Inc., has an 80 percent ownership in ESPN, the popular cable sports network.

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