Fast Track - Broadcasting & Cable

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Mrs. Kroc's Fat Bequest to NPR

Joan B. Kroc, the widow of the founder of McDonald's, left National Public Radio
a whopping $200 million gift in her will, more than double the network's annual budget. She was a huge fan of public radio; she separately gave $5 million to KPBS-FM San Diego, and that's on top of $3 million she gave in 1996 to build the Kroc Production Center.

"We are inspired and humbled by this gift," said NPR President Kevin Klose. The non-commercial network broke even last year after losing $4 million in 2001. Long-time NPR correspondent Susan Stamberg
jokingly told the Associated Press last week that she would change her name to "McStamberg." Mrs. Kroc died Oct. 12. In her lifetime, she gave millions in support of the arts, health care and world peace.

Now, the News

Pay taxes and go directly to the Television Bureau of Advertising
annual conference. The TVB said last week it will hold its annual conference in New York on April 15, in conjunction with the New York Auto Show at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. And NBC
will again hold its annual affiliates meeting in New York the day before the conference. The TVB expects that about 10 station groups will take advantage of the venue to hold group meetings of their own. ...

The National Association of Broadcasters
launched a nationwide public service announcement campaign encouraging donations to the Armed Forces Relief Trust, a new non-profit fund created to collect contributions for military families in need. ...

Former WBBM-TV
Chicago Assistant Controller Deborah Fogarty
and husband Tim
pleaded guilty to stealing almost $2 million in station money. Deborah Fogarty had been charged with diverting funds from company American Express accounts, with the couple spending the money on trips, jewelry and toys for their two children. According to a report on WMAQ-TV
Chicago's Web site, she will serve 71/2 years in prison, and her husband will serve four. ...

ABC
has committed to produce a sitcom pilot to be executive-produced by Oscar-winning director/producer/actor Mel Gibson
and his producing partner, Bruce Davey, about a blue-collar dad with five teen-age boys. Universal Television
and Icon Productions
will produce.

Good, Bad at Fox

Fox's film- and TV-production unit drove the company's 57% profit growth, to $611 million, on an 18% revenue gain to almost $2.8 billion in its first quarter 2004 (ended Sept. 30). The production unit almost tripled its profits to $345 million on a 41% revenue gain to almost $1.3 billion.

Operating losses at the Fox network expanded in the quarter vs. the same quarter a year ago, to $41 million this year compared with $3 million last year. Ratings declines and program-cancellation costs were cited for a 7% drop in network revenue to $394 million. TV-station revenue was flat at $518 million, while profits climbed 6% to $237 million. Cable-network revenue was up 14% to $596 million with a 12% gain in operating cash flow to $143 million.

Tony Danza, Back Again

Buena Vista hopes Tony Danza will be the boss of daytime TV. The syndicator is rolling out a talk show hosted by the former star of Who's The Boss and Taxi for fall 2004, according to BVTV President Janice Marinelli. The show is likely to replace The Wayne Brady Show, should the 0.9-rated Brady be taken off the air.

Clarification

A story about the NAACP's annual tally of minority actors in prime time (Nov. 3, page 10) said the NAACP's figures were lower than the numbers Fox claimed. In fact, the numbers were lower for directors, writers and producers, but there was virtually no difference in the number of actors reported.

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