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IN BRIEF - Broadcasting & Cable

IN BRIEF

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AMST: Industry should fund tech center

The Association of Maximum Service Television is asking the TV industry to pay for a technology-development center similar to CableLabs, in order to keep the pace of innovation needed in the digital era.

"Without this investment, there will be no broadcast industry," MSTV Chairman and LIN Television Corp. President Gary Chapman told the Media Institute in Washington last week. Because there have been a few technological changes since the invention of TV, broadcasters have grown complacent about supporting research, he said.

Odie out at DirecTV

In the wake of DirecTV's surprisingly weak subscriber growth, President Odie Donald is heading for the exit. Odie is "leaving for personal and professional reasons," being replaced by Roxanne Austin, CFO of parent Hughes Electronics since June 1997.

As Hughes Electronics negotiates a sale to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., DirecTV has had troubles adding subscribers. Donald's main charge was to get DirecTV's churn and subscriber-acquisition costs under control. Neither happened. DirecTV said it added 175,000 subscribers in the second quarter ended June 30, well short of the 275,000 to 325,000 the company had been predicting.

AOL's Vradenburg is recovering

AOL Time Warner lobbyist and former CBS executive George Vradenburg remained hospitalized in northern Virginia last Monday after suffering a heart attack. Vradenburg was stricken June 23 after a preview performance of his wife's play, Surviving Grace, at Washington's Kennedy Center.

ESPNews going dark on Charter

About 850,000 Charter Communications subscribers will lose ESPNews in an escalation of the companies' dispute over streaming of the network. A month ago, ESPN told Charter to take the network off at midnight Friday, and Charter made plans to substitute channels. ESPN backtracked in a letter delivered Thursday, but Charter Chairman Jerry Kent said that, since he given the required 30-day warnings, he was going through with contingency plans on most systems.

Stossel blames 'left' for interview cuts

John Stossel isn't happy that ABC had interviews with children cut from an upcoming special following complaints from their parents, he told Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly.

Stossel had wanted to demonstrate that children get a one-sided and often inaccurate message about environmental problems. Although there was no initial objection, he said, parents changed their minds after being "brainwashed" by "the totalitarian left."

Strong ratings win for NBC, CBS

Summer reality programming helped keep NBC in first place in the adults 18-49 demo for the week of June 18-24, but reruns and newsmagazines were strong enough to give CBS a victory in both total viewers and households.

NBC averaged a network-best 3.1 rating in adults 18-49, while CBS averaged a 5.9 rating/11 share in households, according to Nielsen. NBC was led by Spy TV, with a 6.6/21 in adults 18-49 and 13.2 million viewers.

Romano set to sign $40 Million deal

Following in Kelsey Grammer's and Drew Carey's footsteps, Ray Romano is about to get a big raise to keep him on CBS' comedy hit Everybody Loves Raymond for two more seasons. Sources say he is close to signing a $40 million deal, which will pay the actor nearly $800,000 per episode. The series, produced by HBO Independent Productions and David Letterman's Worldwide Pants, is already renewed at CBS through the 2002-03 season. Grammer recently re-signed for $1.6 million per episode on NBC's Frasier;Carey will get $750,000 per episode on ABC's The Drew Carey Show.

Tristani: FCC is too lax on indecency

The FCC too casually dismissed an indecency complaint filed against WTXF-TV Philadelphia for a Jan. 23 broadcast of frontal nudity during the station's morning show, Good Day Philadelphia, Commissioner Gloria Tristani said last week. The complaint was tossed out simply because no tape documenting the broadcast accompanied the complaint, Tristani said. "People do not normally tape or transcribe programs."

Cincinnati anchor to run for mayor

Cincinnati's history of mixing TV and politics continues. WLWT-TV anchor Courtis Fuller announced on the air last week that he will be leaving the station to run for mayor against incumbent—and former WLWT-TV anchor—Charles Luken. Another former news anchor, Jerry Springer, had already been Cincinnati mayor when he worked for the station.

Ratings drop dooms WTXF-TV News Director

John Mussoni, longtime news director at Fox's WTXF-TV Philadelphia, lost his job due to low ratings. He is only the second news director in the station's 15-year history.

Poundstone busted for 'lewd acts'

Comedienne/actress Paula Poundstone was arrested in Malibu, Calif., and booked on charges of lewd acts and child endangerment. Poundstone's arrest came after a "lengthy" investigation by the Santa Monica Police, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Poundstone was a panelist on Pearson Television's syndicated game show To Tell the Truthduring the 2000-01 season but is not expected to be returning this fall.

Sex interferes with memory

Sex and violence on TV shows may actually dull viewers' ability to recall the content of commercial spots. More than 300 TV viewers in an Iowa State University study demonstrated consistently lower recall rates for TV spots in programs with sexual or violent content.

Correction

The article "Triple threat" in the April 23 issue incorrectly described NxtWave Communications as a bankrupt company. The company that should have been so described was NextWave Telecom Inc.

AOL brings in ex-ABC President Fili-Krushel

From president of ABC Network to CEO at WebMD to an HR job at AOL Time Warner—that's the path of former ABC Television Network President Patricia Fili-Krushel, whom AOL Time Warner is putting in charge of diversity and employment issues. Fili-Krushel, 47, becomes executive vice president of administration July 30.

MTV, VH1 appointments

MTV Networks has promoted Alex Ferrari to executive vice president and CFO. He most recently served as senior vice president and CFO. At VH1, Steven Tao was named senior vice president of programming and production, overseeing original series and movies. He was senior vice president of New Line Television.

Retired Group W lobbyist dies

Wallace Dunlap, former senior vice president of government relations for Westinghouse Broadcasting, died in Bradenton, Fla., at 80. He represented the company at the FCC, Congress and other regulatory bodies and retired in 1986.

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