ABC Merges This Week With Nightline

New York— ABC News is giving limping This Week With George Stephanopoulos an extreme makeover. In mid August, its staff will merge with that of Nightline. No layoffs are planned. Nightline executive producer Tom Bettag will head the merged unit. He said last week the new This Week will be a much more highly produced program, with more packaged pieces tailored to Stephanopoulos's strengths, much the same way the broadcast was originally tailored to the unique talents of David Brinkley 20 years ago.

Askin To Head ATAS

Los Angeles— Tribune's Dick Askin is ready to assume the chairmanship of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences after the deadline to run for the office came and went last week. He replaces Bryce Zabel, who guided the academy through the aftermath of 9/11 and a rocky but ultimately lucrative license-fee renegotiation with the broadcast networks. The vote for new elected officials will be August 20.

AOL Time Warner Sells CD/DVD Unit

New York— AOL Time Warner agreed Friday to sell its Warner Music Group's DVD- and CD-manufacturing business to Canadian company Cinram International for $1.05 billion in cash. AOL is aiming to reduce its $25 billion debt. Recent dealings, including the $1.2 billion sale of AOL's stake in Comedy Central to Viacom, have generated about $3.8 billion toward that goal.

Senate Panel To Study Public Interest

Washington— The Senate Commerce Committee this Wednesday will hold a hearing examining how broadcasters are fulfilling their obligations to provide public interest and local programming. Among the witnesses: Sinclair Broadcasting General Counsel Barry Faber and Brent Bozell, president of the Parents Television Council.