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Super Bowl runneth over

Spots in next January's Super Bowl are selling out at a record pace, and for record dollars. Roughly three-quarters of the ads in the ABC game are spoken for. Sources say it will be 80% sold by July 4, leaving 15 units for the scatter market.

The average price? About $2.25 million per 30-second spot, or about 15% more than the $1.95 million Fox got last year. There are several reasons for the quick sales this year, including a general economic upturn. In addition, ABC Sports and ESPN are sold together, so the Super Bowl is packaged with two other hot commodities: Monday Night Football
and ESPN's Sunday-night game, one of the highest-rated offerings on cable. MNF
is close to 80% sold, at CPM rates 10% higher than last year's. Ed Erhardt, head of sales for ESPN/ABC Sports, wouldn't comment on the numbers but said the networks' ability to leverage their top product "is having a very strong positive impact."—S.M.

Miffed over diss

Fox News Channel anchor Neil Cavuto (below) went on a bit of a tear last Thursday after failing to get an interview with Microsoft and Verizon brass (the two are teaming on Internet access via DSL). Cavuto says a Microsoft rep claimed there wasn't time for the interview, although time was found for CNBC and CNN.

Twice during his show, Cavuto flashed numbers and e-mail addresses for Microsoft on the screen, telling viewers to protest the diss. "If you don't like me, you hate the show or Fox, just tell me," he told B&C, referring to the perceived snub. In top-rated Fox's newsroom, some staffers were shaking their heads. "It's Neil being Neil," said one, "but people here feel it's unprofessional."—A.R.

Star power

Kevin Costner, NYPD Blue's Dennis Franz and Will Smith are among stars narrating pieces for the pilot of Universal Domestic Television proposed magazine series Good News
(for fall 2003). Smith is also one of the show's executive producers. Charity work by supermodel Tyra Banks (left) will be highlighted in the segment narrated by Smith. Producers say the strip will tell uplifting stories about the unique struggles and triumphs of inspirational individuals, including celebrities, public figures and everyday heroes.—S.M.

Hope for Adelstein

The logjam may be breaking on Democratic FCC nominee Jonathan Adelstein. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), for whom Adelstein works, said that his staff is in talks with the staff of Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and that Daschle hopes an agreement can be reached "before the end of next week." Upset with Democrats for voting down his choice for a federal judgeship, Charles Pickering, Lott has been blocking Adelstein's confirmation. Sources say Adelstein recently has seemed more confident about getting the fifth commissioner slot but it all depends on whether Daschle and Lott can cut a deal.
—P.A.

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