B & C Eye


The outdoor type

In an attempt to grab more of the spotlight from high-profile new talkers John Walsh and Dr. Phil, comedian Rob Nelson today plans to hoist himself via crane over L.A. shopping center The Grove to help raise a billboard plugging the debut of his syndicated talker, The Rob Nelson Show. He has had no experience hanging billboards but says of the stunt: "I'm no stranger to grass-roots politics. When you believe in something, you do what it takes to let people know."

Nelson's show, which is distributed by Twentieth Television, is cleared in 95% of the country. —P.A.

CC goes to D.C.

Faced with congressional threats, tough FCC merger reviews and accusations of abusive business practices, radio and billboard giant Clear Channel plans to open a D.C. office to lobby the Hill and commission. So far, Clear Channel, the country's largest radio group with more than 1,200 stations and the fifth-largest media business overall, has relied on D.C. firm Wiley, Rein & Fielding to represent the company in the nation's capital. Clear Channel also plans to expand its billboard PAC to cover broadcast operations as well. The company is in negotiations with an individual to run the office, industry sources say, but a contract has not been signed. —B.M.

Salt shake-up

Regulars at midtown-Manhattan Chinese restaurant Dish of Salt are in mourning that their old haunt is closing, and they're blaming Fox. The high-end, 22-year-old restaurant is closing this week, making way for a new studio for Fox News Channel, apparently. The street-level space is in the same building as the cable net, and a Fox staffer said the space is under consideration, à la the Today
show. It's just around the corner from two other studios where tourists can already wave to both Hannity and Colmes. The Dish of Salt staff seems pretty dejected, given our 35-minute wait to order the other night. Owner Mary Ann Lum acknowledged that the place is closing, but a Fox News spokeswoman denied that the net is taking over the space. Ironically, as Fox closes one restaurant, its sports division opens another. Fox Sports' planned string of ESPNZone-like sports-themed eateries has set its first unit to open this fall in Scottsdale, Ariz. —K.K.

Trust but verify

Decisionmark President/CEO Jack Perry and a Capitol Broadcasting rep will visit recording-industry execs to demo Air-to-Web, a product enabling a radio station to verify that a Web listener is within its DMA. The goal: Get the RIAA to waive copyright fees pertaining to listeners within a station's market. A pilot program at WRAL(FM) Raleigh, N.C., begins Sept. 5 at the road show's start.

Rohrs re-ups

Get used to him. With just four months left in his first three-year tour as president of the Television Bureau of Advertising, Chris Rohrs has signed on for a second three-year hitch (through 2005). He declines to discuss specifics: "I got a nice raise and am very happy with it."

Despite a soft economy that saw spot sales dive with just about every other ad category, Rohrs has been getting good marks, especially from those that count most, station groups on the TVB board. "We've defined our mission and stayed very focused on it." That mission includes selling the value of spot, making spot buys easier and improving member services. Rohrs revitalized TVB's spring conference, tying it in with the New York Auto Show. Auto manufacturers and dealers are spot TV's biggest buyers.—H.A.J.