Fox Takes Twins to Court

In the latest fight over local sports rights, Fox Sports Net North has gone to court to retain Minnesota Twins games. Fox believes that the Twins are planning to start their own regional sports network, an obvious conclusion since the team hired Kevin Cattoor, who was general manager of the sports network before Viacom sold it two months ago.

Fox contends that Cattoor, now Twins COO, has said he does not plan to let Fox exercise options that would extend its current rights deal after the 2001 season.

A lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis also contends that Cattoor knows trade secrets from his days at what was known as Midwest Sports Channel—secrets that he could use to snag TV rights for other local teams.

Tribune, Hearst sign multiyear contract

In a new multiyear arrangement, Tribune Entertainment will handle key functions for Hearst Entertainment's domestic first-run programming, including contract administration and research.

Also as part of the deal, which expands the relationship announced earlier this year, Tribune and Hearst will work together in other areas, including distribution and marketing activities.

Previously, Tribune acquired the barter sales rights to Hearst's stable of weekly half-hour series, including Ron Hazelton's HouseCalls, Famous Homes & Hideaways and the upcoming The Bravest.

Bruckheimer to make TV movies for Warner

Pearl Harbor producer Jerry Bruckheimer has signed a two-year deal to create TV projects exclusively for Warner Bros. Television. A force in the film world, he has also shown promise in TV, producing CBS' CSI, one of this season's best-performing rookie series.

City Guys clears 80% of the U.S.

Tribune Entertainment has cleared the off-net episodes of teen sitcom City Guys in 80% of the U.S., representing 122 markets. Stations signed on to the show, launching next fall, include Tribune Broadcasting's WPIX-TV New York, KTLA-TV Los Angeles and WPHL-TV Philadelphia.

TNT beats Lifetime for top spot

Lifetime slipped out of the No. 1 position for ad-supported cable networks in May, losing out to TNT. Lifetime notched a 1.7 rating, while TNT harvested a 1.9, according to Turner Entertainment Research's analysis of Nielsen Media Research data. Lifetime remains one of only two networks in the top ten that have seen positive ratings growth since May 2000. Lifetime's ratings are up 6%, along with TNN's 50% rise, which is largely attributed to its wrestling programming.

Paramount Network TV names Russo SVP

Tom Russo was named senior vice president of current programs for Paramount Network Television. Previously, he served as president of long-form programming, overseeing TV movies since his appointment in 1994.

Voter News Service will continue

All six members of the Voter News Service have decided to remain in the embattled cooperative. ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and Associated Press had set a June 1 deadline for either remaining with the service or opting out. VNS, the subject of much criticism during and following the election-count debacle last year, says it has been working to modernize and improve statistical models and accounting procedures.

Too much too late

A Colorado radio station that played an edited version of rapper Eminem's obscenity-laced "The Real Slim Shady" was fined $7,000 by the FCC Friday, and it's feared that numerous rap and pop stations across the country also could face government penalties.

KKMG(FM) Pueblo aired an edited version of the song throughout spring and summer 2000, including between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., when federal rules prohibit "indecent" programming. In January, WZEE(FM) Madison, Wis., was fined $7,000 for airing an unedited version of the song.

KKMG officials argued that vulgar terms for sex and anatomy were edited out. But regulators said KKMG violated the rules by failing to purge entire passages that made Eminem's meaning clear. "The edited version of the song contains unmistakable offensive sexual references," wrote FCC enforcement chief David Solomon. Kathleen Kirby, the Wiley, Rein & Fielding attorney for KKMG parent Citadel Communications, said the edited version, released by Interscope Records, is the same used by countless radio outlets throughout the country.

McCormick becomes USTA's President, CEO

Walter McCormick is the U.S. Telecom Association's new president and CEO, taking over from interim President Gary Lytle. McCormick replaces Roy Neel, who left USTA last September to work on Al Gore's presidential campaign. McCormick, a former Republican counsel for the Senate Commerce Committee, had been president and CEO of the American Trucking Association.

Barzilay to oversee Toon Disney

Jonathan Barzilay has been named senior vice president and general manager of Toon Disney, ABC Cable Network Group's all-animation channel. Formerly ABC's general manager for children's programming, he will oversee daily operations at Toon Disney, while retaining his previous responsibilities for managing ABC Kids.

NBC tops with 18-49 demo, Fox 28% behind

NBC won the adults 18-49 ratings crown for the sixth straight week, edging out its closest rival, Fox, by 28%. For the week ended May 27, NBC landed a 4.6 Nielsen rating/14 share in that bracket, powered by strong showings by Weakest Link and the season finale of Third Watch. Fox logged a 3.6/11, ABC a 3.2/10 and CBS a 3.0/09. In total viewers, NBC could also claim victory, but just by an inch, scoring 10.8 million viewers to CBS' 10.3 million. CBS challenged NBC with season finales of Everybody Loves Raymond and JAG. Following NBC and CBS in total viewers were ABC with 9.1 million and Fox with 8.0 million.