In the Loop
Consumer Electronics Association President Gary Shapiro (pictured) last week unloaded at Forrester Research, whose harsh critique of digital TV coincided with CEA's March 10 HDTV Summit. "That someone's out there getting paid to dampen enthusiasm for HDTV and use our conferences to release the result is something I have great difficulty with," he told summit attendees. Forrester concludes that HDTV is unprofitable for stations, networks and cable operators and says cable should charge extra for an HDTV tier and pay broadcasters for rights to their HD programming. "That people pay for this research is kind of shocking."
Forrester TV analyst Josh Bernoff stands by his conclusions. "People should accept the reality that HDTV will remain a niche product for the foreseeable future," he told B&C. "Let anyone who wants HD pay a reasonable amount and get some revenue into the equation."—B.M.
The folks at Discovery are finding themselves more in the wilderness than they expected, but only at lunchtime. Staffers have started relocating from their longtime Bethesda, Md., headquarters to new digs in Silver Spring, a nearby Washington suburb in the midst of urban renewal. The custom-built HQ (pictured) is sparkling, with a semi-industrial décor highlighted by a dinosaur skeleton in the lobby. But it's not surrounded by decent eateries, in contrast to restaurant-heavy Bethesda.
Discovery execs promised city fathers they wouldn't put in a cafeteria so employees would support local restaurants. But the staffers are grousing that they can't find quick salads and $5 sandwiches, although there is a McDonald's and a pretty good Cuban spot. As for the expense-account joints, execs are still entertaining clients back in Bethesda for now.—J.M.H.
John Walsh was more action than talk last week. Although he scrapped last Thursday's pretaped episode of NBC Enterprises'The John Walsh Show
for a live show with Ed Smart and the couple who helped find his daughter, Walsh went ahead with his regular taping schedule anyway and knocked out two more hour shows for future airing. Access Hollywood, ET
all shot segments from Walsh's show and led with them (Walsh's America's Most Wanted
was instrumental in Smart's recovery; see Fast Track, p. 4). After that, Walsh flew to Salt Lake City to be with the Smart family. That's after having spent the entire night before talking to media outlets, co-hosting CNN's Larry King Live
and helping NBC's The Today Show
prepare its Thursday-morning program, on which he also appeared. Then there were the shoots for NBC and Fox stations (home of America's Most Wanted) and interviews with Time, The Washington Post
and The Los Angeles Times.
Walsh may be the closest the media can get to the Smart family for a while. On Friday, the Smarts canceled all pending interviews.—P.A.
Pittsburgh Pirates fans expecting to tune in over-the-air games are in for a surprise. There are none slated for broadcast this year. Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh, which holds broadcast-TV and cable rights, is not seeking a broadcast deal. Last season, Fox sublicensed 15 games (mostly on Sunday) to WCWB(TV) Pittsburgh. "Given the current climate it did not make sense to do a [broadcast-TV] package," says Larry Eldridge, GM, Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh. That's actually fine with WCWB. "Look at their [Pittsburgh's] record," says WCWB GM Alan Frank. "I am pleased with the outcome." Pittsburgh cable subscribers have access to 105 games. Thus far, there has been no public outcry, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Chuck Finder. Nor does he expect any unless the team's fortunes improve dramatically, which he says is unlikely. The Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays also have no over-the air games scheduled this season.—K.K.M.