B & C Eye


Career choice

Is it better to be in broadcasting or cable these days? A survey of our subscribers from all segments of the TV business suggests cable. While 86% of the respondents said they were "very optimistic" or "somewhat optimistic" about cable, only 68% felt the same about broadcasting. What's more, 30% said they were "very pessimistic" about broadcasting.

This is your life

British director Michael Apted is resurrecting his 7-Up
documentary style for an A&E series following nine American couples through the course of their marriages. In the original 7-Up, Apted tracked 14 British youths from age 7 to adulthood.

For his latest project, Married in America,
Apted picked couples who reflect different demographics. Among the subjects will be a biracial couple, a homosexual couple and a bi-religious couple. The spring premiere will document their weddings; he'll update once or twice during the year.—A.R.

NBC digs Roots

The groundbreaking miniseries Roots, originally aired by ABC over eight nights in 1977, drew over 130 million viewers, won nine Emmy Awards and became a sociological phenomenon that closed discos(!) and gave ABC an aura of greatness. But 25 years later, NBC, not ABC, is planning the anniversary special. Roots—Celebrating 25 Years: The Saga of an American Classic
is slated to air Jan. 18, with Ben Vereen, Ed Asner and other cast members. Sources say ABC was pitched the special first, but execs didn't see eye-to-eye with Judith Leonard, who is co-producing with Kelly Newton and the original executive producer David Wolper. ABC executives and Leonard weren't talking. The Hallmark Channel shows Roots
in its entirety starting Jan. 20.—J.S.

Clearance sales

The FCC said it would permit TV broadcasters operating on channels 52-59 to relinquish their frequencies well ahead of the 2006 deadline by selling out to wireless companies that want the spectrum. The plan is "not that different" from provisions approved a year ago for stations on channels 60-69, said an agency staffer. So why were opponents of early buyouts crowing that the FCC had "completely abandoned" its band-clearing policy? Two reasons, perhaps. First, in addition to subjecting 52-59 buyouts to public interest reviews not applied to deals for the upper channels, the final version of the rules—expected in the next two weeks—does not extend some sweeteners aimed at encouraging 60-69 deals. Second, the stations in the 52-59 band are so profitable that few are expected to accept buyouts. The combination of factors was enough to silence most critics of the buyout policy, including Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ernest Hollings, who warned that band-clearing incentives would yield windfall profits to broadcasters.—B.M.

Snowy pictures

When ABC's World News Tonight
reported last week on Buffalo's sensational snowstorms, viewers did not see a weather reporter from Granite-owned Buffalo affiliate WKBW-TV, but the Weather Channel's Mike Seidel (above).

No disrespect intended, says the network. ABC's NewsOne service has a longtime reciprocal relationship with the Weather Channel, which had moved Seidel and a truck to Buffalo in advance of the storm. NewsOne Chief Don Dunphy said the service has moved footage from the station, but it tries not to burden stations during crises.

"In a way it helps us because it takes off a little of the pressure," acknowledges WKBW-TV News Director Bob Yuna, "But we were a little dismayed to see someone from the Weather Channel on World News
instead of one of our own reporters and anchors." But before CNN got its own correspondent, Holly Firfer, in the area, WKBW-TV was getting broad exposure on the CNN networks and on its news service, CNN Newsource. "Wolf Blitzer is a Buffalo native," says Yuna, "and he's been plugging the hell out of the station."—D.T.