B&C Eye


Whither NATPE?

Plans for the future of NATPE will be unveiled this week, and insiders see a number of potential scenarios, including a merger with the international and domestic conferences of marketing group PROMAX. NATPE is also said to be considering several mini-conventions.

Some Hollywood syndication executives would like to see NATPE split into two annual shows, a fall conference in Los Angeles, where local stations scope out new shows, and a spring "upfront" show in New York, where advertisers do the same. NATPE's annual conference has been in January for many years. Sources say the association is looking into new dates but international companies favor January.—J.S.

Few takers?

TV stations on ch. 52-59 are expected to get FCC permission to negotiate lucrative early-exit buyouts from wireless companies this week; broadcasters don't have to vacate until 2006 at the earliest. Trouble is, few broadcasters are expected to take the offers.

Many stations are in crowded markets with few options for relocating. Uncertain prospects for advanced wireless services also make it unlikely that potential bidders can offer enough to entice companies like Viacom, ABC and Hearst-Argyle, which control many big-market stations.—B.M.

Revving up

It's shaping up to be a major gathering of broadcasters. No, not the NAB convention. The Television Bureau of Advertising annual marketing conference next year, being held March 26 at New York's Jacob Javits Convention Center in connection with the New York Auto Show. TVB has lined up at least 10 TV-station groups to hold management meetings with their GMs and top salespeople in New York that same week. It gives everybody a chance to schmooze with the automakers and dealers, TV's most important advertisers. Among the participating groups: NBC and LIN.—H.A.J.

CNN drops shows

With franchise players Paula Zahn and Aaron Brown firmly installed, CNN is dumping two midday shows: Burden of Proof
and New Site, both off the air since Sept. 11. News Site
host Joie Chen and Burden of Proof
co-host Roger Cossack are leaving the cable news net, according to Executive VP Sid Bedingfield. Cossack's counterpart, Greta Van Susteren, remains host of The Point. Also being canceled are weekend shows Travel Now
and Showbiz This Weekend, whose host, Bill Tush, is leaving. CNN may be developing a new entertainment-news show to air in the afternoon block.—A.R.

Stern admonition

Ad agencies are worried about Fox TV's plans to combine ad staffs in duopoly markets. "Our biggest concern lies in your ability to manipulate the market and unfairly take advantage of smaller advertisers and their agencies," wrote Allen Banks, Saatchi & Saatchi's North American media director and chair of the media policy committee for the American Association of Advertising Agencies, to Fox TV Stations chief Mitch Stern.

The biggest worry, Banks said, is that Fox might pressure ad buyers to buy package deals for both stations. They also fear that Fox may demand that make-good spots be aired on the lower-rated of the two stations. The worry arose when Fox, as part of plans to eliminate weekday kids programming, moved most children's shows and their advertising to weaker stations acquired from Chris-Craft. Fox had no response at press time.—B.M.


Excite@Home lost more than its game of chicken with AT&T last week; it lost its e-mail. AT&T balked when Excite@Home successfully squeezed cash out of some operators by threatening to sever their high-speed Internet customers. AT&T quickly cut in a replacement network, but its customers could no longer access their "home.net" e-mail. Excite@Home executives and staffers were surprised to realize that included them, since AT&T's local cable system supplied Internet access to Excite@Home's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters. "I love that more than anything," said one AT&T executive. Excite@Home rerouted its offices and restored access.—J.M.H.