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Fast Track - Broadcasting & Cable

Fast Track

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Programming Notes

NBC Cable is exploring creating Hispanic-targeted digital services. The company is looking at both digital networks and video-on-demand offerings, possibly using some Telemundo product. ...

Section Eight Television, headed by George Clooney
and Steven Soderbergh, has signed a two-year first-look deal with Warner Bros. Television. Grant Heslove
has been appointed president of the television division, a bump up from his former job as VP of the

production company's film division. Section Eight Television plans to develop a TV movie about Edward R. Murrow, which will be written by Jon Robin Baitz
and directed by Clooney. Section Eight also is producing K Street, a show for HBO in which a fictitious political consulting firm works with actual Washington power brokers. The program predates the company's deal with Warner Bros. ...

UPN
is beefing up its development departments, promoting Steve Veisel
to VP of comedy development and adding Rebecca Stay
as VP of drama development and Beth Miyares
as director of current programs. Veisel has been at UPN since 1999, when he joined as manager of current programs. Stay had been at The Shephard/Robin Co. since 1998. Miyares had been a development associate at First Move Entertainment since 2001. ...

FX
has picked up the cable rights to co-owned Fox's The Bernie Mac Show, starting in 2008. Bernie Mac
will appear on FX after a three-year run in off-net broadcast syndication. FX is paying $235,000 per half-hour, according to reports.

McCain Unveils Election-Coverage Bill

As promised, Sen. John McCain
last week introduced a bill that would place new election-season obligations on TV and radio stations. His plan, similar to one he introduced last year, would require broadcasters to air at least two hours a week of "candidate-centered" or "issue-centered" programming before a primary or general federal election, pay spectrum fees that would fund vouchers candidates and political parties could use to buy political ads, and provide non-preemptible ad time at stations' lowest unit rate.

On the News

Viacom's WCBS-TV
New York is partnering with Gannett's Journal News to share news resources, cross-promote and explore other programming opportunities. WCBS-TV will locate its Westchester County bureau, including a studio, at the paper's White Plains, N.Y., offices. Heading the bureau will be Adam Shapiro, who has been a news producer at the station. WCBS-TV reporters Tony Aiello
and Jennifer Jordan
will collaborate with Journal
staffers on news stories and investigative reports. ...

The minority workforce as a percentage of all TV and radio news staffers was down in 2003 for the second year in a row. That's according to the latest RTNDA/Ball State
survey. In addition, concludes the survey, "over the last nine years, there has been no consistent, meaningful change in the percentage of minorities in TV news." We are very disappointed that the percentage of minorities fell this year in the nation's local broadcast newsrooms," said RTNDA President Barbara Cochran. "We will redouble our efforts to increase diversity in the workforce." On the upside, the percentage of women in the TV news workforce increased in the most recent survey, as did the number of women news directors in TV.

Hallmark Slates Off-Nets

Hallmark Channel is bulking up its acquired-series lineup. Four will arrive in September: newly acquired off-nets of Matlock, Little House on the Prairie
and The Lone Ranger, as well as M*A*S*H, which Hallmark picked up from FX. The cable channel will add JAG to its prime time lineup in January 2005. USA Network currently airs JAG
in prime, where it earns consistently solid ratings, and will keep rights to non-prime airings.

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