Fast Track - Broadcasting & Cable

Fast Track

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The Good, The Bland, And the Ugly

FX chief Peter Liguori says TV networks need to do a better job of creating strong identities for themselves with programming that viewers are passionate about.

"There's a tyranny of sameness on TV," Liguori told a crowd at a Museum of Television & Radio luncheon in Los Angeles. "There's a homogenity across the television landscape of lemmings racing to the middle." He cited the proliferation of CBS's CSI, NBC's Law & Order, and their spawn as an example.

While the cry from Washington has been "clean up TV!", Liguori said that FX remains committed to edgy programming, pointing out that The Shield airs after 10 p.m. to keep it from young eyes.

Two Nicks for Nielsen

Nick at Nite is leaving the nest, sort of. Nielsen Media Research has agreed to treat Nickelodeon and Nick at Nite as separate cable networks starting March 29. MTV Networks Executive Vice President of Research and Planning Betsy Frank says she petitioned Nielsen after advertisers said they wanted to track Nick at Nite's performance separately.

The split should leave Nick as the persons 2-11 ratings leader, she says, and give Nick at Nite credit for its strength in the 18-49 demo.

Yanks Top Cablevision

It may not be as exciting as the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, but the Yankees-Cablevision battle may be just as ugly. Last week, the New York Yankees won an important round in their carriage dispute with Cablevision when an arbitration panel ruled that the MSO must carry the team's YES Network on a basic tier. Cablevision had sought to sell YES as a pay network.

But Cablevision does get a price break: The operator will pay around $1.80 per subscriber rather than $2. That may have a domino effect for the regional sports network, which will probably have to cut the price for every MSO.

Fully Programmable

Mentalist Gerry McCambridge is already trying to read NBC's mind. McCambridge announced the network planned to air his special May 12 at 8 p.m. That was news to some at NBC. The special has not yet been booked, and no announcement has been made, but yes, as a matter of fact, May 12 is said to be a tentative but likely airdate. …

Oxygen has bought 65 episodes of Australian soap Neighbours from FremantleMedia. Its six-week run will start April 19, with two half-hour episodes running back-to-back daily at 1-2 p.m. …

Mo'Nique (The Parkers, Showtime at the Apollo) will host Lifetime's Queen for a Day special, which airs May 24. The show is based on the classic '50s TV show, one of the medium's first stabs at reality. …

In an effort to broaden its definition of history beyond war, The History Channel is ramping up its original slate. History's additions include technology shows Wild West Tech and The Tech Effect and archeology series Digging for the Truth, which will be shot in HD.

Corrections

NBC's Brian Williams wasn't strip-searched or subjected to a full body-cavity check at a San Diego airport, as a brief item in the March 22 edition reported. Williams, speaking in Orlando, told his audience he was aggressively searched by airport security and jokingly alluded to a more invasive search. Our source didn't understand he was joking. He was.

WCAU Philadelphia, is owned by NBC. A page 14 story in the March 22 edition about TV news stations that carried out pedophile sting operations misidentified the station group that owns the station.

Urban Latino TV, a syndicated show from AIM Tell-A-Vision, is sold on a straight barter basis. A story on page 32 in the March 22 edition incorrectly said the syndicator bought time on stations.

Sony's XDCAM format, at this point, is capable of transferring only high-resolution, standard-definition content into Avid editing systems. A story on page 38 in the March 22 edition incorrectly stated that XDCAM can transfer HD files.

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