By Stephen McClellan, Alison Romano, Dan Trigoboff, Ken Kerschbaumer, and Bill McConnell -- Broadcasting & Cable, 9/29/2002 8:00:00 PM
Fox's fat payroll
It's nice at the top. Last year, News Corp. President and COO Peter Chernin earned almost $18 million, $14.5 million of it in salary and bonus, according to a recent SEC filing. It must even be nice to have been at the top. Chase Carey, who bailed out of News Corp. in mid-contract last year, landed softly with $10.8 million. Fox didn't do so hot last season, but TV Entertainment Group boss Sandy Grushow had a total pay package worth $5.6 million, including salary, bonus and stock options. Mitch Stern, who runs Fox stations, made $4.5 million, the same as Fox News head Roger Ailes. Sports chief David Hill got almost $4 million. Fox's major man, Rupert Murdoch, grabbed $9.2 million. Son Lachlan made just $2.8 million. Tough love? —S.M.
More TLC reality
With its redecorating show Trading Spaces (below) a hit, TLC is preparing to make over wardrobes and careers. On What Not To Wear, TLC will give a fashion victim $5,000 dollars for a new look. In Faking It , a person (say, a fast-food cook) secretly assumes another related job (top chef at a five-star restaurant) and tries to pull off the charade. TLC imported the formats from Britain and will debut them in the first quarter.—A.R.
DTV power struggle
The FCC may yet have to settle the increasingly ugly interference dispute between WBOC-TV Salisbury, Md., and WHRO-DT Hampton Roads, Va. After reducing power on its new digital station during initial negotiations, WHRO is back to maximum power. WBOC-TV claims the high-power levels and the ease with which TV signals travel over water create interference throughout its market. Both stations use channel 16 and supplied the FCC with differing interpretations of a recent engineering study detailing interference to WBOC-TV viewers. Although WBOC-TV managed to eliminate interference over cable, roughly 40% of its market isn't served by cable. "I can't survive a zero rating in 40% of my market," says WBOC-TV owner Tom Draper. Still, he concedes that WHRO-DT is within the current rules. The problem, he says, "the rules don't work" for DTV.—S.M.
Going AFTRA noncompetes
The American Federation of Theater and Radio Artists is trying to outlaw noncompete clauses in Washington, D.C. AFTRA reps and local members Joe Krebs of WRC-TV and Bob Edwards of National Public Radio testified in favor of the Broadcast Industry Contracting Freedom Act of 2002 before a City Council labor subcommittee. Testifying against the bill were Morris Weinman of the Maryland-DC-Delaware Broadcasting Association, Sinclair's Mark Hyman and Radio One personality Joe Madison. A vote is expected Oct. 15.—D.T.
The trend toward centralized station operations is expanding into the graphics department. The NBC station group, already heavily involved in centralized operations for program and content distribution, is working on a graphics hub that will serve all its O&Os from one location. Work on the facility, which will include equipment from Pinnacle Systems and other manufacturers, is under way and should be up and running by the end of the year.—K.K.
Public TV stations were the big winners at last week's House Telecommunications Subcommittee hearing on digital TV. Eight lawmakers called on Congress to better fund public stations' conversion to digital. "There's a great case for assisting public television," said New York Democrat Eliot Engel. It was something of a windfall, since public broadcasters weren't even asked to testify. "The expressions of support were very gratifying," said John Lawson (above), of the Association of Public Television Stations. APTS wants the House to match or better Senate legislation earmarking $50 million next year to help pay for the switch. So far, the feds have kicked in $140 million of the $1.7 billion conversion costs, with $771 million coming from state governments and private donors.—B.M.
Bud gets better
Paxson Chairman Bud Paxson was in intensive care after surgery last week but is said to be recovering just fine. He spent two days in the hospital for elective knee surgery. A company spokeswoman was mum on the topic, but others said the procedure was long planned and relatively minor. "He's as healthy as a horse," said one source close to Paxson, 67.—S.M.
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