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CBS Moves Opening Tournament Games To ESPN; Rest Of Schedule Up In Air

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NEW YORK — CBS moved its coverage of the NCAA men's basketballtournament to cable channel ESPN on Thursday because ofnews coverage of the war in Iraq.

At noon EST, when CBS Sports' pre-game show was scheduled tostart, the network told viewers looking for NCAA action to tuneinstead to ESPN.

The day's first game, between Marquette and Holy Cross in theMidwest Regional at Indianapolis, tipped off at 12:20 p.m. EST onESPN - with CBS announcers and production.

"Kind of a strange way to start the tournament, isn't it?" CBSstudio analyst Clark Kellogg said.

It wasn't immediately known how many games would be shifted tothe cable channel or its partner, ESPN2.

"We're prepared to accommodate every window today and tomorrow,if needed," ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said. "They've sent the first window to us so far.

"Beyond that I don't know. It's a fluid situation."

ESPN is in about 20 million fewer households than CBS is. ESPN2 reaches about 22 million fewer.

If CBS opted to switch games later Thursday or Friday night,they would be shown on ESPN2.

ESPN's previous schedule included NHL coverage Thursday night and NBA coverage Friday night.

"We'll be updating our viewers frequently," CBS Sports vice presidentLeslieAnne Wade said . "We're working closely with the news division."

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