Getting a 'Date'
Universal Worldwide TV's parent, Vivendi Universal, is said to be looking to close the three-year-old syndication division and sources say Paramount will most likely snap up the syndication rights to its two domestic syndication offerings, Blind Date, entering its third season, and new companion, The Fifth Wheel. Universal Worldwide TV was launched in late 1998, when Universal acquired PolyGram. Paramount has a number of ties to Blind Date. Producer Gold Coast Entertainment is also producing the new Paramount-distributed first-run series, Rendez-View. In addition, Paramount programming chief Greg Meidel formerly ran Universal TV. —J.S.
Fox puts on some speed
Cox Cable is wasting no time putting its mark on Speedvision. Fox executives are expected to name a new president, get NASCAR into the title and may even move the network's headquarters out of its Stamford, Conn. home and down to NASCAR-hotbed Charlotte, N.C. Fox, which swapped its interest in Outdoor Life and The Golf Channel last May with Comcast for 100% of Speedvision, is putting Jim Liberatore behind the wheel as the network's new president this month, sources say. Liberatore, who has been the VP/GM of Sunshine Network (in which Fox has a stake), will replace Roger Werner, though Werner has been asked to stick around for several months. Sources say Fox executives are talking with NASCAR about expanding the network's name. How's Speedvision: The Home of NASCAR sound? Fox is in the first year of an eight-year, $1.6 billion pact to carry NASCAR races and owns 50% of production-wing, NASCAR Images.—J.S.
With 201 stations on the air with digital, according to the NAB, and not many sets out there, a lot of power and money is being expended to reach a tiny fraction of the viewing population. Decisionmark, which follows stations in their transition to DTV (www.broadcastcounts.com), shows 67% of the DTV stations operating at full power. Those stations, typically operating 21 kW transmitters, are gobbling up electricity at an average rate of $11 per kW hour, says Harris' David Glidden. So, while only 25,000 DTV sets can receive a DTV signals, the typical full-power DTV station is spending nearly $100,000 per year for electricity.—M.G.
FCC spotlight on Krone
Sources say FCC Commissioner Gloria Tristani will vacate her seat by Labor Day, prompting speculation on a successor. The latest name is former TCI and AT&T Broadband lobbyist David Krone, who is said to have the backing of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.). Krone says neither he nor his mentor, veteran cable executive and now financier Leo Hindery, has talked to Daschle about the seat.—P.A.
Disney President Bob Iger wasn't feeling much empathy with affiliates who have a problem with Disney's plans to repurpose ABC-TV shows on the soon-to-be acquired and renamed Fox Family. During a conference call with analysts, Iger said many affiliates were "relatively accepting" of the plan. But some "chose to be a bit more publicly defiant," he said. "Their defiance is not necessarily worthy of note...since any of our plans would be consistent with the agreement we negotiated with them." Iger was referring to a deal that allows the network to repurpose up to 25% its prime time broadcast schedule on cable.—S M.