Exchange of fire
While the FCC continues to investigate affiliate allegations of abuses by the networks, a war of words is heating up between ABC and KEZI(TV) Eugene, Ore. In August, the station charged the network with hindering the launch of a 10 p.m. newscast by rejecting the station's request to move network prime time up an hour. KEZI says ABC also wouldn't let it reschedule network programming to air the University of Oregon's appearance in the NCAA tournament or a special on the impact of the West Coast energy crisis on the state. ABC counters that KEZI wants to launch the early news at the expense of the network to pay for poor management decisions, such as losses from syndicated-program purchases. ABC says it has granted numerous schedule changes and balked only at rebroadcasts of local sporting events. The station plans to respond in the next few weeks.—B.M.
Who Dunne it?
If the pages of Vanity Fair
fail to satisfy the hunger for crimes of the rich and famous, a new Court TV series is sure to fill the bill. The network is working with Vanity Fair
columnist and author Dominick Dunne on a new 13-episode investigative series, to be hosted by Dunne.—A.R.
Carmen Electra is a hot property in syndication. The actress/model (below) is being considered for two projects for the fall as she approaches the conclusion of a first-look deal with Columbia TriStar Domestic TV. Insiders say NBC Enterprises is looking to get Electra to headline its new action series, B.A.I.T. Carsey-Werner executives also want her to co-host their new weekend magazine, Livin' Large. Currently, Kadeem Hardison is signed on to host. Neither studio can move until the end of the month, insiders say, because of the Columbia deal. That studio had been looking at a number of projects for her, including an action hour.—J.S.
A quiet beach
With CBS, Fox and NBC gone from the association, the NAB winter board meeting in West Palm Beach this week promises to be a quieter affair. Topping the agenda for the TV board will be discussions of the FCC's proposed EEO fixes, digital TV and EchoStar/DirecTV. One board member commented on the last item, "There will be a barbecue where Charlie Ergen turns around on a spit." For radio members, issues include satellite-radio repeaters, in-band on-channel digital radio and royalty fees for radio streaming. Some of the previously debated issues, such as the TV-station ownership cap, have been resolved or the opposing side is gone.—P.A.
CBS gets repurposeful
CBS and its affiliates in December quietly extended the deal under which affiliates help pay for NFL rights in exchange for certain exclusivity guarantees. But the two-year extension has some modifications. Under the old deal, CBS agreed to seek approval from affiliates on a case-by-case basis for any show it wanted to repurpose. Under the new terms, CBS can repurpose up to five hours per week of prime time—only two of which can be on UPN, the other three only on non-broadcast outlets.
The network is also allowed to reuse up to two hours of soap operas per week on non-broadcast outlets. Affiliate board Chairman Ray Deaver says CBS wanted the changes so it wouldn't be hampered in license-fee talks with program producers. He said affiliates representing 98% of CBS's household coverage (excluding O&Os) approved the deal.—S.M.