ABC won't be getting in any FCC trouble over its November sweeps fashion show featuring sexy Victoria's Secret models.
The stunt generated hundreds of e-mail protests to the FCC and roughly 20 formal complaints. Last week, the FCC decided the complainants had not proved "the sexual aspects of the material was, in context, so graphic or explicit as to be patently offensive."
The commission also dismissed an indecency complaint against shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge for his "Roadkill Barbeque" contest in February 2001.
A complainant argued participants compared the texture of squirrel meat to a penis, referred to bestiality and slaughtered a wild boar. The FCC said none of the references were "inescapable innuendo" with a "singular, indecent" meaning. Three weeks ago, a Florida jury found Sponge, aka Todd Clem, not guilty of animal cruelty for the boar killing.—B.M.
"Satire," said Lenny Bruce, "is tragedy plus time." That may not have been top of mind last year when ABC commissioned Wednesday 9:30 (8:30 Central), a sitcom that lampoons network TV (originally called The Web)
, but it seems more appropriate now that ABC is tanking in prime time and creating its own Koppelgate fracas. The show premieres, um, this Wednesday at 9:30 (8:30 Central) and involves the fictional IBS Network. On ABC's Web site, the show's home page includes an IBS logo and even part of its schedule (which includes bogus programs Paper or Plastic?
and the classically bad-sounding Just the Three of Us).
The IBS Jobs board ("Always an Opening on the Bottom") advertises for "Director, current programming," and the job is "not open to people of conscience." The "preferred" producer of the IBS Web site should have "1-2 months prior experience with failed Web house" and "must be willing to take worthless options over cash for bonuses." Sounds like executive producers Peter Tolan (Larry Sanders )
and Lauren Corrao (both exec produce ABC's caustic The Job) know the turf. Would ABC retitle the show if it changed its time period? "That would be a programming decision," a publicist said. Right then we knew Wednesday 9:30 (8:30 Central)
has so much material to work with.—P.J.B.
For many programmers, it's been almost a year since the last cable confab. The Western Cable Show last December was heavy on operators but light on network execs.
But cable channels are making a bit of a comeback at NCTA's annual gathering in New Orleans this May. Buzz is building for the show, even as a show of strength. "Everyone knows we need to support one major show," said A&E's SVP of affiliate sales, David Zagin.
About 20 networks will take booths and 13 others—including Court TV, E! and Oxygen—are opting for pre-fab suites. Execs praise NCTA for creating economical options—something Western Show officials didn't do. HBO and Showtime would have stayed away without the options. Booths can cost $1 million; the suites range from $60,000 to $160,000. —A.R.
The appearance of NBC top brass at Tuesday's affiliate meeting at the TVB conference in New York suggests relations are thawing. NBC Chairman Bob Wright, President Andy Lack, Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol and Entertainment President Jeff Zucker will appear before the affils for a Q&A that day. "We've been having a good dialogue with the network, and we're working together on a number of things," said Alan Frank, affiliate board member and president of Post-Newsweek Stations. NBC last year canceled its affiliate meeting at the NAB convention, in part because of an attack on the networks filed with the FCC by the Network Affiliated Stations Alliance. Among the leaders of that attack: Alan Frank.
CBS Television City may be the home of Survivor
and CSI, but the Los Angeles complex is lacking one thing: a view. There are some windows for top brass, but most of the programmers, marketers and promotions people are housed in the bowels of the cavernous complex. For them, there's Channel 42. It provides a 24-hour-a-day view from one camera trained on the Hollywood Hills and its famous Hollywood sign. The camera went up in October 1991 to take time-lapse shots of the network's East Stages being built. A year later, when construction was completed and the camera removed, a mild employee uprising brewed. So CBSers get "soothing" music, a nice view. And pray for a promotion.