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Lab lowdown

The Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV) hopes to announce in the next two or three weeks plans for a broadcast-technology laboratory, says Gary Chapman, president/CEO of LIN Television and member of the MSTV board. "It's in the process of coming together," Chapman says. MSTV will pitch it to NAB, some of whose board members have been amenable to the idea. Funding a lab would require contributions from members of each association, TV manufacturers and the associations themselves, Chapman said. So far, says an NAB source, it has heard no formal proposal and has agreed to no funding.—P.A.

D.C. line

With former WRC-TV Washington GM Linda Sullivan starting today at new NBC station KNTV(TV) San Francisco, NBC's station group has a big job to fill in D.C. Observers note that NBC has a good bench and even staying in-house doesn't present a narrow field. Sources tell us strong candidates are three well-regarded NBC GMs: Michael Jack, from WCMH-TV Columbus, Ohio; Lisa Churchville, from WJAR(TV) Providence, R.I., where Sullivan worked before going to Washington; and Mike Ward, WNCN(TV) Raleigh, N.C.—D.T
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Remembering Munich

ESPN is planning an original movie on the 1972 Munich Olympics, where Israeli athletes were taken hostage and killed. According to ESPN SVP of Programming Mark Shapiro, the movie is being contemplated for summer 2004, in time for the Summer Olympics in Athens. ESPN may try to time its originals to other big events. The channel's first original movie, A Season on the Brink,
about basketball coach Bobby Knight, debuted March 10, right after the NCAA men's basketball tournament selection show. Shapiro says he'd like to air four originals per year.—A.R.

Penalty phase

At its meeting this week, the FCC will propose a plan for sanctioning TV stations that can't justify missing the May 1 DTV deadline. Those sanctions could include fines or even license revocation. More than two-thirds of the country's 1,300 commercial stations failed to meet the target. Of those, 525 have been granted a six-month waiver. Another 324 have been asked for more info, and most are expected to get waivers once they spell out their efforts and provide timetables for service. The commission also is expected to extend waivers to the handful of stations in top-30 markets that haven't launched DTV due to zoning disputes, interference and other problems. Those were supposed to have gone digital Nov. 1, 1999.—B.M.

No sale

Now that crossownership rules are loosening, investors have been pumping up the stock of Tribune. The bet was that, in the wake of a court decision allowing cable companies to own systems and TV stations in the same market, AOL Time Warner would buy some stations for its WB network. Tribune owns 25% of the net and some big-market WB affiliates. But WB and TBS Chairman Jamie Kellner (above) says no. Investors at a meeting with Kellner at the NCTA show last week said he privately told them the company has ruled out buying stations.—J.M.H.

Crime free

USA Networks has scrapped plans to launch a crime channel, executives confirmed last week. That leaves the Vivendi Universal unit with just two digital channels, Trio and New World International. There has been some talk that USA is now planning an action channel, filled with off-network series and movies from the Universal library. USA dismisses the talk. But everyone expects it to roll out some new channels soon. Last December, it paid EchoStar $1.5 billion for a 10% stake and space for five new channels.—A.R.

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