Fast Track

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NBC Plays Outdoors

NBC Universal has made its first foray into the
lucrative outdoor-ad market, which already features major broadcast media
players Viacom and Clear Channel. NBC has
teamed with "street-furniture" company JCDecaux on a New
York City request for proposal for 3,500 bus shelters and 330 newsstands. The
new partnership, NBCDecaux, was created to win the New York
bid, but it could extend to other cities. Viacom has also bid for the

Will Networks Air Debates?

Media For Democracy ( is
collecting online signatures for a petition to be sent to top executives at
ABC, CBS, Fox and
NBC asking them to commit to "comprehensive coverage" of the
presidential debates. The move came a week after the group, joined by the
Public Interest, Public Airwaves coalition and others, asked
the networks for a commitment. Media For Democracy complained that Fox didn't
air the first presidential debates last year in order to show the premiere of
Dark Angel, while NBC
gave stations the option of carrying baseball playoffs.

Journalist Threat Level Raised

According to reporters with Committee for Freedom of the Press, the
trend toward limiting journalists' access to information since 9/11 continues
to grow. "Citizens don't seem to realize how drastically their right to know
has been limited in the last three years," says Lucy Dalglish, RCFP director,
in a statement on the release of its annual update, Homefront

The committee has been keeping a running journalistic "threat level"
that mirrors the government's own color-coded terrorist-threat warnings. The
two categories that remain at red alert are Freedom of Information Act
restrictions and Access to Terrorism and Immigration Proceedings, but two
others have moved from elevated (yellow) to high (orange) status since last
year's report: USA Patriot Act Restrictions and Reporters Privilege.

Radio-Television News Directors Association President Barbara Cochran
testified at a Homeland Security Committee Hearing in Washington last week. She
noted that Reps. Norman Dicks (D-Wash.) and Jim Turner (D-Texas) also expressed
concern that the government had gone overboard in its effort to place records
off-limits in the name of homeland security.

Jake Pumps Reality

Lions Gate Television and Body by Jake's Jake Steinfeld are
teaming on a new reality show, Be the
. Lions Gate, which got a 13-episode order
from CBS for its reality series The Cut, is looking for an outlet
to launch the show next spring, timed to the publication of Steinfeld's book,
I've Seen a Lot of Famous People Naked and
They've Got Nothing on You! The weekly series, based on
the book, will tap aspiring entrepreneurs who compete for money to start their

CBS's Prime Time Players

Newly minted CBS Entertainment President
Nina Tassler has assembled a new group to head up
prime time series. Laverne McKinnon, formerly senior
vice president of drama development, will replace Tassler as head of drama
development. Wendi Trilling is being bumped up to
executive vice president, comedy development, from senior vice president, and
David Brownfield, vice president, current programs,
has been named senior vice president. He replaces David
, who was named president, Paramount Network

2 Friends Earmarks Kids

Two top TV execs formed a new company called, appropriately enough,
2 Friends Entertainment. Wendy
, formerly a driving force behind Sony
, and Nancy Steingard, most recently
senior vice president, creative development, for Sesame
, have a number of TV projects lined up, including one based
on the Harriet the Spy children's book series.

Parting Shot

Tony Esparza, who joined
CBS in 1959 as a publicity photographer, is retiring Oct. 1
after 45 years and countless photo shoots for successful CBS series from
The Sonny and Cher Show
to The Amazing Race. He
also snapped The Beatles, Frank
, Gene Kelly, Queen
and thousands more in a distinguished career.