B&C Eye


iBlast-ing staff

With live field trials of its datacasting service in five cities having concluded in March and no customers in sight, iBlast Networks has terminated about 40 operations people involved in its alpha test. That leaves about 40 to carry on.

In light of this and other technical challenges, the company, which has already invested about $30 million, is working hard to maintain "emotional momentum" among its broadcast-station partners as it aims for a spring launch. Says iBlast CEO Michael Lambert (a station owner himself): "It's part of the ebb and flow of the business. We took advantage of the opportunity of the downsizing of America to trim a little bit."

Programming pow-wow

With top Hollywood syndication studios pulling out of NATPE or threatening to, the organization's board meeting in Los Angeles this week ought to be lively. The disaffected syndicators say NATPE is no longer worth the cost of exhibiting. NATPE has been listening.

"We are certainly not locked into the way we do business, and we are going to evaluate whether there are incentives we can offer to make it a more efficient and viable floor," says NATPE President Bruce Johansen.

"We are going to explore ways we can encourage the exhibitors to save money," he adds. "Unfortunately, most of the money they spend doesn't go to us. It goes to their booths and other stuff."

Headline nudes

Who is it that lurks behind tedsturnovers.com? The site made a splash last week by posting nude photos of actress-turned-newscaster Andrea Thompson. The former NYPD Blue-JAG-Baywatch actress was tapped as an anchor for CNN Headline News after a stint at an Albuquerque station. CNN said Friday it would stand behind its hire.

"I did pose for Black and White Magazine, a prestigious artistic publication, several years ago," Thompson acknowledged. "I did this as a piece of art and make no apologies for the creative decisions I've made." Tedsturnovers.com is a lively chronicle of CNN, told from the perspective of people with an ax to grind.

The powers behind the site aren't interested in going public. "All of us involved are still getting our severance checks in the mail, so that tends to make us a bit gun-shy," said a site manager in an e-mail return-addressed TedTurner@Yahoo.com.

One for the books. Rupert Murdoch's Books, that is

Mortimer Zuckerman's offer to buy his toughest competitor is no joke, says the New York Daily News publisher. Two weeks ago News Corp. executives scoffed when Zuckerman said he wanted to buy the New York Post. It could be that the owner of the financially troubled Daily News simply wants to see his competitor's books, suggest News Corp. officials. Zuckerman told the FCC last week he'll seriously consider making an offer for the equally shaky Post, but won't make a bid unless he can see the paper's balance sheet. "Without access to the Post's
liabilities ... it is impossible for me to describe a specific price I would be willing to pay," he said.

The FCC is examining the Post's finances as part of a review of News Corp.'s acquisition of WWOR-TV New York and nine other Chris-Craft stations. News Corp. officials continue to dismiss Zuckerman's overtures. "If Mr. Zuckerman continues to insist he's serious about buying the Post, maybe one day someone will take him seriously, but that hasn't happened yet," said a spokesman.