Fast Track


Court Orders FCC Decision

The Washington, D.C., Circuit Court has given the FCC 30 days to explain why it has not issued a decision on digital cable must-carry requirements for cable operators.

The court was responding to a request by Paxson Communications Corp., whose stations could become more valuable as either ongoing operations or saleable assets if cable operators are forced to carry digital versions of broadcasters' signals. The FCC doesn't have to produce a decision before the end of December, but it must explain to the court's satisfaction why deliberations have taken six years.

Bettag Returns To 'Nightline'

This Week With George Stephanopoulos executive producer Tom Bettag will return to Nightlineas executive producer—at least for now. The move follows the announced exit of executive producer Leroy Sievers, who was unable to come to terms with ABC on a new contract after taking issue with format and direction changes planned for the show.

Richard Harris, a senior producer at This Week, is expected to be first in line to take the reins from Bettag in the interim, although ABC has made no formal announcement. Harris is a former Nightline senior producer. Bettag ran Nightline before moving over to helm the Sunday-morning This Week program. Sievers was the brains behind Nightline's moving honor roll of American soldiers killed in Iraq.

DirecTV Dropping Trio

In one swoop, pop-culture digital network Trio is losing its place on DirecTV and half its available audience. As expected, the satellite company plans to pull the NBC Universal-owned channel Dec. 31. Starting Dec. 1, DirecTV will run a crawl on the channel informing viewers of Trio's fate. Trio says it is “committed to programming the network for its loyal viewers and cable distribution partners.” A Trio rep adds NBC U “continues to evaluate the future of the network in relation to its overall strategy.” Translation: The future is grim. DirecTV accounted for more than half of Trio's 20 million subscribers.

CNN Taps Klein

For the second time in 14 months, Cable News Network has reached outside for a new president, tapping former CBS News executive Jonathan Klein to oversee programming. As president of CNN's U.S. operations, Klein replaces Princell Hair, a former TV-station news executive who was named general manager about a year ago. He remains at the network as a program- and talent-development executive.

Klein was most recently founder and CEO of The FeedRoom Inc., a broadband news and streaming site. He will report to CNN News Group President Jim Walton but will be based in New York.

“I'm not kidding when I say the place is having a record year financially,” Walton says. “This place isn't broken.” But he acknowledges that Klein was tapped to focus on prime time.

Klein's strongest background is in newsmagazines. Toward the end of his 16 years at CBS, he was executive VP for prime time programming at the news division, overseeing 60 Minutes and 48 Hours.

Fox Scores Big Bowls

After years as a lesser player in college football, Fox Broadcasting Co. secured rights to key games of the Bowl Championship Series, including the new bowl for a national title. Fox snagged rights for all TV, Internet and sponsorship rights for the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar Bowls from 2007 through 2010. ABC recently renewed a deal for the fourth game in the series, the Rose Bowl.

Syndication Shows Soar in Sweeps

National syndicated ratings for the week ended Nov. 14, which includes the first full week of the November sweeps, produced the highest numbers yet for The Insider, which hit its third series high in the past five weeks. Insiderscored a 2.8, up 4% from previous week. On its heels were Access Hollywood with 2.7, Extra and Celebrity Justice, unchanged at 2.4 and 1.1, respectively. The top magazine, ET, averaged a new season high of 5.5, up 4%. The other newcomer to register a new series high was Tony Danza, up 8% to 1.4.


The new weathercaster at KTLA Los Angeles will be chosen by a panel of three KTLA judges. “Lights, Camera, 'Audition'” (11/22, page 12)

Lisa Gregorisch-Dempsey is a senior executive producer at Extra and Celebrity Justice. “Inside the Fluff Factory” (11/22, page 1)