BusinessWeek is coming to TV. South Carolina-based syndicator Litton is relaunching BizNet TV's existing weekly finance show, Money Talks, this fall with publisher McGraw-Hill. BusinessWeek, the TV show, will be produced at the conclusion of Friday trading. Jill Bennett, host of MoneyTalks in its first two seasons, will host. The series will tap editorial content and executives from BusinessWeek and Standard & Poors. "We are going to aim this at the average investor and at its highest levels; we will be talking to the Jack Welchs and Bill Gates of the business world," says Dave Morgan, Litton president and CEO. BusinessWeek is already cleared on WABC-TV New York, WLS-TV Chicago and on McGraw-Hill stations in San Diego, Denver and Indianapolis.
In the "where are they now" category, ex-Request TV CEO Jeffrey Reiss is launching a venture to help new cable nets secure distribution. Reiss and ex-NBC executive Brian McGuirk (brother of TBS Vice Chaiman Terry) are expected to announce TVFusion, which will handle affiliate and ad sales for startups. Reiss, who helped start Showtime and Cable Health Network (one of the predecessors to Lifetime) has been petty much MIA in cable since TCI-backed PPV distributor Request TV was sold to rival In Demand in 1992, then essentially folded. For a while, Reiss ran a TCI-backed business training company, CareerTrack. The big question: Can Reiss save our favorite startup, The Puppy Channel?
Mickey says, 'So long'
ABC staffers last week received letters outlining the details of Disney's proposed buyout package. Employees serving less than two years get 12 weeks severance pay, while those serving two to three years get 16. Four years and up gets worker bees eight weeks plus an additional week for each year of service up to a maximum of 60 weeks, while directors and higher get eight weeks and two additional weeks for each year served up to 60 weeks. Employees have three weeks to decide. Two weeks ago, Disney said 4,000 staffers would be cut by July.
Erin Brockovich to the rescue
Look for Erin Brockovich to land on TV. NBC, CBS and ABC are said to be interested in Challenge America With Erin Brockovich, a series of six hour specials featuring Brockovich rescuing people in "down on their luck" situations. Say, for example, that a family's home is swept away by a flood, says a source. Brockovich would rally the nation's Home Depot-type companies to build them a new house.
Olympics-feed fracas brews on West Coast
NBC has told affiliates it wants to provide just one live prime time feed of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics at 7:30-11 p.m. (ET). West Coast stations, which would get the feed at 4:30-8 p.m., aren't thrilled about the prospect. It would blow out local news. And they fear the local Olympics ad time wouldn't be worth as much if the feed doesn't air in West Coast prime time. But NBC fed a single prime time feed from Atlanta in 1996 and got huge ratings. Nothing has been finalized.
The final (comparative) word
An FCC judge last week ordered the operator of WTVE (TV) Reading, Pa., to give up its license. The owner, Reading Broadcasting, pledged to appeal the decision. Reading's case was the last outstanding renewal pending under an old FCC policy that allowed challengers to compete for licenses up for renewal. The comparative process was abolished in 1996, but pending cases were allowed to continue. Reading's president was found to have made misleading statements to the FCC and to have taken unauthorized control of the station, which offers home shopping.