News Articles

Flash!

2/03/2006 07:00:00 PM Eastern

Goodmon: Stop the Slingbox!

Capitol Broadcasting President Jim Goodmon is as impressed as anyone with the Slingbox, the new TV-on-the-Web gadget from Sling Media. He hooked one up to his TV in Charlotte, N.C., so he can watch Capitol’s Charlotte stations when he is in Raleigh.

But he thinks that the much-hyped device (one of Time magazine’s “best inventions” of 2005) may be, well, illegal. “I can’t believe that hasn’t been stopped already,” Goodman says.

The device connects a TV or set-top box to a broadband- enabled computer, allowing one to watch—and control—a home TV remotely via the Internet.

Goodmon suspects the Slingbox violates program copyright laws—and maybe retransmission-consent agreements—by enabling out-of-market viewing of network and syndicated content.

“I have a deal with the cable system,” he says, “and they have retransmission consent for the cable system in this market. They don’t have it for everyplace else. They can’t do that; there’s no way that’s legal.”

Sling Media spokesman Brian Jaquet says, “We feel confident that the laws and regulations in place allow us to provide this kind of service under the laws of fair use.”

The company just closed a $46.6 million round of financing led by media-holding company Liberty Media, DBS operator EchoStar Communications, and investment bank Goldman Sachs. So it may be feeling scrappy.

In a statement on the financing, co-founder/CEO Blake Krikorian said, “In summary, we are stoked.”

Zucker Calls Bluff

When Gary Scott Thompson, creator of NBC’s Monday-night drama Las Vegas, urged NBC Universal TV Group CEO Jeff Zucker to take another run at revitalizing Friday prime time, he wasn’t volunteering to lead the charge.

“I think the networks have sort of forgotten about the night,” Thompson says. “I’ve been saying to Jeff for three years that Fridays are ripe for the taking. I guess he’s going to make me eat my words.”

But Thompson says he’s OK with NBC’s moving his show to Fridays. He only hopes the network will promote the new slot, which will lead into the new Dick Wolf drama, Conviction.

“If the audience doesn’t know, they can’t follow,” Thompson says. “I’m sure Dick Wolf will remind them. If they put his show on by itself, he would have been sitting there dead. But this could be a nice block on Fridays.”

But Thompson suggests the deck was stacked against him on Mondays.

The Friday move came about after NBC learned that the NFL would not allow Las Vegas promos during Sunday-night football games, which the network begins airing in the fall. (Apparently, the league’s rule that what happens in Vegas stays out of football applies to the fictional Vegas, too.)

“If you look at what Fox and CBS have done with football,” Thompson says, “the reason 24 and Prison Break on Monday even do anything is because they promote the hell out of them during every football game, every commercial. I was looking forward to that same promotion.”

Tough break, kid.

They Can Dish It Out, But...

It looks like there’s a food fight brewing between Food Network and Bravo over Bravo’s new chef reality show.

Flash! hears that Food Network rejected national and online ads for Bravo’s upcoming kitchen showdown, Top Chef, which is set to debut March 8 with Katie Lee Joel (Billy’s bride) as host.

It’s not uncommon for networks to run ads for their competition; CNN routinely carries spots promoting other cable news networks.

Indeed, while Bravo hasn’t advertised nationally on Food Network for years, Food has bought spots on Bravo.

A Bravo spokesperson says, “It’s surprising they should feel so threatened by a show that’s yet to launch. We’re flattered.”

So, what gives? Are the folks at Food Network chicken?

“Our networks do accept advertisements from other media companies,” says a Food Network spokesman in an e-mail to Flash!. “But just as other networks have filters for accepting placements from other media, we have a set of criteria that determines what we do and do not accept on our air. This ad did not meet [our] criteria.”

Perhaps it’s just a matter of taste.

November