With the dotcom business in the tank, few TV companies are looking to start new Web sites. Too bad. There are hundreds of TV-related domain names available—some dirt cheap. A check found plenty with modest minimums and no bidders. Disney may want to consider abcnetwork.tv ($50 minimum); HBO could lock up sopranofamily.com ($100). Who knew that adjectives had different values, but you can open bidding on craving.tv for just $5 or playful.tv for $105. A site based on a TV personality? Here are two: misterrogers.tv ($50), or richardhatch.tv ($25). For $25, you can get bigbrother2000sucks.com. But forget about bigbrother2001sucks.com. It's owned by CBS and it ain't selling. Yet.—H.A.J.
Tribune eyes Acme
Tribune Broadcasting, part owner and largest affiliate group of The WB, has held talks with Acme Television about buying the TV group founded by now-Turner Broadcasting Chairman Jamie Kellner. The issue appears to be price. Tribune is said to be particularly interested in Acme's two biggest stations, KWBP(TV) Portland, Ore., and KPLR-TV St. Louis. Kellner, who founded The WB, recently got a big promotion (running all of Turner Broadcasting and The WB) and is said to be less interested in the Acme TV group. There's also been speculation that AOL Time Warner might be interested in acquiring Tribune. —S.M.
Sources say NBC West Coast President Scott Sassa has been offered a new, three-year deal to continue as the network's top West Coast executive. That came as senior-level NBC executives met with GE boss Jack Welch in Fairfield, Conn., last week and speculation about Sassa's status heated up. Sassa, who has been with NBC since September 1997, when he took over as head of the network's O&O stations, is said to be contemplating the new offer. His current contract is said to be up in December and sources say he is also mulling a number of outside opportunities. In 1998, Sassa was named NBC entertainment president and six months later, took over Don Ohlmeyer's position as NBC West Coast president. Jeff Zucker, NBC's new entertainment president,
would likely move into the top spot out West if Sassa leaves. NBC executives had no comment.—J.S.
Remember The Waterboy
The next time network executives say they don't care about Nielsen household numbers, remember The Waterboy. With the second quarter almost over, Lifetime and USA Network brass are 'angsting' over who will win the neck-and-neck race in prime time. Lifetime wants to claim its second-consecutive victory in quarterly household ratings. But USA last Thursday abruptly yanked Demi Moore flick Indecent Proposal
from its Sunday schedule and substituted its fifth run in two weeks of Adam Sandler comedy The Waterboy
(which scored a huge 5.0 in one of its airings).
Rounding the numbers could leave them tied at a 1.8. At press time Lifetime was a few hundredths ahead of that, USA a few hundredths behind. Despite the last-second lunge, USA contends strong demos will lead to bigger spoils from advertisers. "Household rating are a nice way of keeping track, but its not the way the business runs," said Ray Giacopelli, senior VP of research, USA Cable.—A.R.
Pegasus and any other TV groups operating local-marketing agreements in small markets are likely to get some relief from government restrictions. Two weeks ago, a federal appeals court ordered the FCC to stay, pending the outcome of a court challenge to ownership rules, Sinclair's Aug. 6 deadline for divesting four LMAs in markets where there are fewer than eight separately controlled TV outlets, and thus are ineligible for LMAs. Now the agency is reviewing whether to extend the delay to any other groups. No decision has been reached. —B.M.