Call it LPDTV
NAB President Eddie Fritts claims that more than 86% of all U.S. homes are in markets with at least one DTV signal. But that doesn't mean they can receive it. One source estimates that nearly 30% of the more than 400 DTV stations are broadcasting at low power, making it difficult (or impossible) to reach many homes. Just how many homes? Don't expect an answer soon. That would require calculating the coverage of the low-power DTV broadcasters. The NAB isn't planning on that exercise anytime soon. The fuzzy math will remain.—K.K.
Peggy Binzel, EVP of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, is resigning. Washington cable circles have long buzzed that she was unhappy working for President Robert Sachs and felt that her freedom to operate on the Hill was limited. Binzel came to NCTA with the understanding she would succeed Sachs. But last fall, Sachs renewed his contract for another three years. Binzel will head an Atlanta-based trade association, sources say. Sachs has been said to be trying to woo back former EVP David Krone, who works for mentor Leo Hindery and the YES Network. But Krone says he has no interest in the job.—P.A.
9/11: You are there
As part of its Sept. 11 anniversary programming, ABC News, in a joint project with USA Today, will re-create the disaster from various vantage points inside the World Trade Center immediately after the planes hit. The documentary will build on a USA Today
special report in December, which used floor plans, photos, architectural designs and testimony to tell the story of those who were in the buildings and survived.
"We can show through animation what it looked like to the people inside," says ABC Executive Vice President Paul Friedman. "We've come up with hundreds of individual stories, and we will be able to demonstrate many scenarios."
ABC, apparently out front in development of its 9/11 plans, also plans a detailed look at the reactions of government.—D.T.
Vet pub tests tube
Variety, the showbiz bible, is looking to pen its own chapter. Execs say the Hollywood mag is fronting a weekend news chatter—Meet the Press for the entertainment set—to cable news nets. The pitch from the magazine's brass, including Peter Bart and Charles Koones, is that it will draw upscale eyeballs à la The Wall Street Journal. Nets pow-wowed with include MSNBC and Fox, but not CNN, although Bart appears regularly on CNN's Lou Dobbs Moneyline. For his part, Bart says Variety is not the pursuer, adding, "No deal is presently being discussed." Like B&C, Variety is owned by Reed Business Information.—A.R.
Sony's Columbia TriStar Domestic Television has shot the pilot for a new daily half-hour syndicated program in collaboration with the popular auction site eBay. Shot in Los Angeles, the pilot is now in post-production. The interactive series includes elements of entertainment, magazine and game shows and will give TV stations local revenue opportunities. The pilot includes hundreds of participants who brought collectibles to the shoot. The first cut has been screened for eBay executives, including CEO Meg Whitman. The two companies are jointly developing the marketing strategy. Launch is set for fall 2003.—S.M.
Speculation is growing that the FCC won't fill its fifth seat until after the 2002 elections, possibly not until 2003. Nominee-in-waiting Jonathan Adelstein (above) remains hostage to the battle between Republicans and Democrats over other nominations and appointments, particularly judgeships.—B.M.