ABC won't be Liss-less after all. Walter Liss, president of the ABC-owned TV stations, had been planning to leave the company May 4. But that was back in February, when Robert Callahan was still running the broadcast group. In early May, after Callahan was replaced by Steve Bornstein, who had run ABC before jumping into cyberspace, Liss was persuaded to stay. Did the change in leadership have anything to do with the decision? "Reasonable people might conclude that," says a company source. "It's not like they were sniping at each other, but the chemistry just clicks better with some people than others." About a month ago, Bornstein asked Liss to reconsider his decision to leave.
NBC's promotion arm, The NBC Agency (which generated a lot of buzz for Weakest Link), is said to be creating an on-air promo campaign for The Other Half—the daytime men's talk show—with the tagline: "It is said to truly understand someone, you have to walk a mile in their shoes… ." The kicker: The four male hosts will be wearing high-heels. The campaign kicks off next month.
The Center for Media Education has battled communications giants for 10 years, but that doesn't mean the public-advocacy group is above emulating the business world. Like many of the companies in CME's sights, the group has created a spin-off. The Center for Digital Democracy is led by Jeffrey Chester, who will continue as CME's executive director while the new group gears up. Top issues remain ones that have been on Chester's hit list for the past three years, including fighting for cable open-access requirements and ensuring that interactive TV is more than "advertising on steroids." So far, the center has $100,000 in the bank from three foundations: Albert H. List, HKH and J. Roderick MacArthur. CME, which will be led by Chester's wife and the center's president and founder, Kathryn Montgomery, will now focus exclusively on children's media issues.
In a "cost-containment" measure, employees of broadcast-equipment manufacturer Grass Valley Group are taking a temporary 10% pay cut, and management is encouraging them to "borrow" vacation time from next year without pay. A source said senior management at GVG has been working for 10% less since January. The latest move follows a staff cut of about 30 people (out of about 700).
The Network-Affiliated Stations Alliance is getting active on Capitol Hill. With the group's urging, say sources, Sens. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) (above) and Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) are considering penning a letter or an op-ed piece supporting maintaining the 35% cap on TV ownership. That should be in time for a planned June 12 hearing on TV ownership restrictions before the Senate Commerce Committee, of which Hollings and Dorgan are members.
Meanwhile, sources say Cox TV President Andy Fisher and Post-Newsweek President Alan Frank—who head the affiliates association—plan to hit Capitol Hill next week to stump for the cap and to buttress complaints about network abuses.