Journalists Pledge To Keep Probing War

Washington— With a probable war in Iraq, and accompanying dissent the theme of Thursday night's Radio and Television News Directors Foundation First Amendment dinner here was summed up by host Lesley Stahl of CBS News: "This seems an appropriate time for all of us to reaffirm our commitment to publish and broadcast a wide-open, no-holds-barred debate on the big problems of the day. ... There may be no more important expression of patriotism and our commitment to the First Amendment than to do our best possible work to educate and inform the American people of all sides of the debate."

Disney, DirecTV Fight Over ABC Family

Los Angeles— Walt Disney Co. and DirecTV are haggling over subscriber fees for ABC Family, and DirecTV is threatening to pull the channel off its system March 31, when the current carriage deal expires. Disney is looking for a 35% increase over last year's license fee, DirecTV said. Kagan World Media said, on average, operators paid 17 cents per sub in 2002. A Disney spokesperson said the company was "surprised and disappointed" by DirecTV's threats "at this early stage of our negotiations" and negotiations will continue.

DirecTV Offers Deal to Yankee Fans

New York— DirecTV is seizing on Cablevision Systems' refusal to air Yankees Entertainment & Sports, aiming a special campaign at Cablevision customers. In New York print and sports-radio ads starting today, DirecTV offers a free dish and two receivers to Cablevision subscribers who sign up between March 10 and April 30.

TV Ad Revenues Rise 9% in '02

New York— The Television Bureau of Advertising reports that total TV broadcast revenues were up 9.4% in 2002, to $41.35 billion. Local TV ad spending was up 14%, to $16.4 billion. Network TV was up 9% to $22 billion (including WB, UPN and Pax).