IN BRIEF

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Budget loses fees, keeps delays

The budget compromise hammered out last week by the House, Senate and White House would not require broadcasters to pay fees for staying on their analog spectrum past 2002, sources say, but it would delay auctions of ch. 52-59 until 2004 and ch. 60-69 until 2006.

Broadcasters seek rules for ITV

In a somewhat veiled swipe at the new FCC chairman, leaders of the broadcast industry said it's not too early to bar cable companies from stripping interactive-TV triggers of unaffiliated programmers.

"It is not premature for the commission to make the fundamental public policy choice between open and closed architecture," officials of the ALTV, Disney, NAB and others said in a letter to the FCC.

Although the FCC is conducting an inquiry into the need for ITV rules, FCC Chairman Michael Powell has said repeatedly that the nascent business is too unformed and unpredictable to regulate now.

Next Big Star to be Pax series

Previously syndicated as a series of talent-competition specials, Ed McMahon's Next Big Star has been turned into a 26-episode series for Pax. Rolling out in August, it will feature contestants found through open auditions around the country and through admissions sent to NextBigStar.com.

Laugh In creator George Schlatter has been named an executive producer on Next Big Star, which will also include segments from celebrities who got their big break on McMahon's Star Search. Contestants will advance toward a final competition, where they can win cash and prizes.

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