News Articles

The week that was

12/16/2001 07:00:00 PM Eastern

WASHINGTON MEMO

House
leadership last week postponed a vote on the Tauzin-Dingell bill, which aims to deregulate the regional Bell phone companies so they can offer broadband services over long distances. Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) fought with opponents who wanted to add amendments that would have required the Bells to share their new high-speed networks with competitors. The vote will come later; Tauzin's aide called it a "delay, not a defeat." ...

The State Department
is asking radio stations and newspapers in major media markets to run its new PSAs, which tell citizens how to contact the government with information about suspicious persons or activities and where to donate money to support the program. The department's Rewards for Justice
program is offering $25 million for information leading to the capture of Osama bin Laden
and other terrorist leaders. ...

The cable industry will ask the FCC
to change the way it tabulates partial investments towards cable ownership limits, NCTA chief Robert Sachs
said last week. The FCC is rewriting rules that once limited a cable company's national subscriber share to 30% of all multichannel customers. The NCTA says rules attributing stakes of 5% and greater in other cable systems towards a company's ownership tally should be reworked as well.

GET A PROGRAM!

Tribune Entertainment
is officially bringing out Beyond With James Van Praagh,
a
daily strip featuring the psychic. It's already cleared in 60% of the U.S. and 48 markets for next season, including deals with the major co-owned Tribune Broadcasting stations. ... Sources say Buena Vista TV
has sold a syndicated daytime series with Wayne Brady, the co-star of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, to the ABC
owned-and-operated stations for the 2002-03 season. Buena Vista executives have still not formally announced the show with Brady, which is expected to be a talk/variety show. ...

Universal's
two syndicated dating series Blind Date
and The 5th Wheel
have earned a number of upgrades across the country, including triple runs for Blind Date
in Los Angeles, New York and Dallas. The 5th Wheel
is moving from an overnight slot on WWOR-TV New York
to a daytime post and is also getting a second run on KCAL-TV
Los Angeles. ...

Wheel of Fortune
and Jeopardy
continued to rule in syndication, placing one-two in the November sweeps. Wheel of Fortune
was the top-rated strip, averaging a 10.0 rating, off 7% from last November, according to Nielsen Media Research. Jeopardy
followed, with an 8.4 national rating, off just 1% from its November 2000 sweeps. ...

Off-network runs of Friends
finished third in syndication and was the highest-rated off-net series, averaging a 6.6 rating (up 12%). On the weekly-series front, Entertainment Tonight Weekend
was tops for the second season in a row, averaging a 3.5 rating (off 13%). Andromeda
finished second at a 3.1 rating (off 21%), and newcomer Mutant X
was third overall with a 3.0 rating. ...

Led by drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS
won the weekly ratings race in all key demographics, including adults 18-49. CBS won the 11th week of the season (Dec. 3-9) in total viewers (12.1 million), households (8.0 rating/13 share), adults 24-54 (4.8/12) and adults 18-49 (4.0/11). ...

CBS
has ordered a new reality series for midseason that follows fighter pilots in training. The series, American Fighter Pilots, has been given a minimum six-episode order, but network executives would not say when it will debut.

TVB ADD-ONS

ABC, NBC, Tribune, LIN, Nexstar
and Hearst-Argyle
television groups will hold management meetings in tandem with the March 25 annual TVB
conference, being held this year in New York during the annual car show. More station groups are likely to follow. Broadcasters apparently like the synergy because car dealers are local television's biggest categories. Previously, TVB held its conference as part of the NAB
convention.

PEOPLE MEETER

Bill Burke, the former president of TBS, joins as president of The Weather Channel
on Feb. 4. Decker Anstrom, who has the job now, ascends to COO of the channel's parent, Landmark Communications, on Jan. 1. ...

Turner Entertainment's
legendary head of program planning and acquisitions, Bob Levi, is stepping down after 31 years with the company.

September
October