The week that was
Staff -- Broadcasting & Cable, 5/26/2002 8:00:00 PM
AT PRESS TIME: FCC DELAYS 60-69 AUCTION, AGAIN
The FCC Friday delayed for a sixth time the auction of spectrum now used for TV chs. 60-69. Bidding is now planned for Jan. 14. Auction of chs. 52-59 will go forward June 19 as scheduled. FCC Chairman Michael Powell said delay of the upper-channel auction is necessary to give lawmakers time to work out a compromise. Broadcaster Bud Paxson argues that another postponement violates the law.
PROBE BIG MEDIA, SENATORS SAY
Sens. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.), Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) want the FCC to complete an investigation of media consolidation by the end of the year or before the FCC acts to change any media-ownership rules, whichever comes first.
"Diversity of voices and opinions are vital to competition as well as the discourse of our democracy," the three wrote. "Given the substantial, ongoing consolidation in the media industry and recent court decisions striking down rules that restrain this trend, we are extremely concerned that this competition and discourse is at risk." The FCC is currently looking at several media-ownership rules.
EARLY SHOW GIVEBACK?
At CBS's meeting with affiliates this week, Meredith Corp.'s Station Group President Kevin O'Brien will propose that CBS give back mornings to its affiliates. He figures that, with Bryant Gumbel gone from The Early Show and with CBS looking for ways to reduce affiliate compensation, a compromise is to give local stations the early-morning slot, where CBS is a distant third. "To win against The Today Show and Good Morning America is a real uphill battle. But the stations that do local news in the morning are doing phenomenally. It would be extremely beneficial to CBS because of its O&Os in major markets."
Meanwhile, CBS and Landmark Communications agreed on a long-term affiliation pact for WTVF(TV) Nashville, Tenn., and KLAS-TV Las Vegas. Sources said Landmark got compensation in seven figures but it will be phased out over the course of the long-term pact.
Bridget Potter has been named executive producer of The Caroline Rhea Show, the first-run talk/variety show for fall from Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. The ex-NBC executive oversaw Saturday Night Live and Late Night With Conan O'Brien. She was also head of original programming at HBO for more than a decade. …The Shield lost another advertiser, bringing the number of advertiser defections to 16, according to the Parents Television Council, which has orchestrated a campaign against the FX series. The total number may be north of 20, because some original advertisers, like General Motors and John Deere, opted out after screening early episodes. The latest to flee is W.C. Bradley, maker of Char-Broil grills. ...
Production on TNT's original drama Witchblade was temporarily halted after series star Yancy Butler, checked into a rehabilitation clinic. Witchblade producers said the actress is being treated for an alcohol-related problem. Witchblade is slated to kick off its second season June 16, and, so far, the premiere is still on. ...
A prime time dose of Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants grabbed a 4.5 rating May 17, making it cable's best-watched show May 13-19, according to Nielsen. Nickelodeon notched a 1.9 average in prime, second only to Lifetime's 2.0.
FCC UPHOLDS INDECENCY FINE
The FCC Friday upheld a $2,000 fine against Infinity Broadcasting, affirming a new FCC policy allowing indecency complaints to be investigated even if tapes or transcripts are not provided. Infinity appealed its notice of liability for a 1997 broadcast of the song "You Suck" by KROQ-FM Pasadena, Calif. A listener complained that the song, aired before 10 p.m., included profane terms for anatomy. Infinity said it didn't know if it had aired the original or edited version of the song. Broadcasters complained that the FCC was reversing its long-standing policy of requiring transcripts, but agency staff said procedure had not changed.
Commissioner Michael Copps declared that the previous policy placed "inordinate responsibility on the complaining citizen."
THE SENATORS FROM BROADBAND, USA
On Tuesday, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) will introduce legislation that calls on the administration to present its national strategy (the Bush administration says it has one, but it hasn't been seen). Sen.John McCain (R-Ariz)is expected to introduce a deregulatory bill next month.
The May 20 Focus, on page 33, misidentified Tony Kiernan. He is general manager at KHSL-TV Chico, Calif., with operating responsibility, except programming, for KNVN(TV) Chico.
Also, the new mayor of New Orleans is C. Ray Nagin. A photo caption on page 28 of the May 13 edition had an incorrect first name.
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