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Fast Track - Broadcasting & Cable

Fast Track

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HDNet Makes a Deal

HDNet
last week signed a long-term carriage deal with the National Cable Television Cooperative
that will bring HDNet and HDNet movies to RCN, Midcontinent Communications
and Blue Ridge Communications
subscribers as well as to those of more than 1,000 other independent cable operators. The deal marks a more aggressive approach not only by the NCTC but also by HDNet, which will now conceivably reach an additional 14 million subscribers. The network continues to talk with larger MSOs. It currently has deals also with Charter Communications, DirecTV
and Dish Network.

The Biz

In its latest report, media buyer Magna Global USA
blames some of the broadcast networks' viewer erosion on a decline in family programming. Magna traced that decline to 2000 or so, when, it said, the broadcast industry came to believe that families no longer watched TV together. At that point, 41% of TV homes had three or more TV sets, more than double the 19% estimated in 1986, Magna noted. So networks narrowed their focus and, Magna concludes, lost viewers. ...

Pop-culture cable net Trio
is pushing for a posthumous pardon of comedian Lenny Bruce, who was convicted on obscenity charges for a 1964 performance. The plea coincides with the June 2 premiere on Trio of
Lenny Bruce: Uncensored. To sign the petition, visit www.triotv.com.

Lifetime
has committed to Viacom
to produce 22 more episodes of original drama The Division, bringing it back for a fourth season. The Sunday-night police drama is pulling in an average 2.5 rating.

Comedy Central
is committing to 13 episodes of animated House Arrest,
about two twentysomething slackers living under house arrest who spend their time watching animated shorts. The half-hour show, from Denis Leary
and Jim Serpico, is slated to debut in 2004.

The People Meeter

Veteran programmer Brooke Bailey Johnson
is returning to the cable industry as senior VP and GM of the Food Network. She is charged with its daily operations and will report to Food President Judy Girard. Previously, Johnson was EVP/GM for A&E. ...

Not unexpectedly, Brad Turell
has returned to The WB
in Burbank, Calif., as executive VP of network communications. Turell is following his boss, Jamie Kellner. In a management shakeup at AOL Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting System, Kellner resigned as chairman of TBS in Atlanta to return to the West Coast. Turell had been Kellner's executive VP at TBS. The WB's Paul McGuire
will continue as SVP of network communications; Turell will be charged with overall communications strategy and talent relations.

ABC News' John McWethy
is leaving his Pentagon post to become a special correspondent. He has been ABC's chief national security correspondent since 1984. State Department correspondent Martha Raddatz is said to be the leading contender to take McWethy's place.

Corrections

The rollout of a digital affiliate transmission system by ABC will begin in fall 2004 and be completed in 2005. A story in the May 26 edition on page 20 said it would be completed by fall 2004. Also the amount of money stations will be reimbursed will vary, ranging up to $80,000 for stations that have not converted to DTV and up to $50,000 for those that already have.

ABC Radio News correspondent Bob Schmidt has been with the network since 1977. A postscript to his Airtime commentary on page 28 of the May 26 edition misstated his tenure at the network.

Bernie Gets Going

Twentieth Television has cleared off-net deals for The Bernie Mac Show
in 30% of the country, readying it for a fall 2005 rollout. Fox stations in New York, Los Angeles, Detroit and Houston signed on. So did WCIU-TV Chicago, WPSG-TV Philadelphia, KTXA(TV) Dallas, WNDY(TV) Indianapolis, and WBFF-TV and WNUV-TV, both Baltimore.

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