Fast Track

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Kerry, Bush Split Ohio

In the syndicated-TV talk race between the First Couple and their Democratic challengers, John Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry, the results were as even as the political race. In Ohio (which no Republican has lost and still captured the White House), the two split the state's four metered markets. Each couple made an appearance on King World's Dr. Phil
to talk about parenting. The Kerrys won Cleveland and Dayton; the Bushes took Cincinnati and Columbus. Overall, the Bushes scored the highest numbers in the 56 metered markets, with a 5.2 rating/13 share average, compared with a 5.0/13 for the Kerrys' appearance Oct. 6. But the Kerrys won in four of the top six markets: New York. L.A., San Francisco and Boston.

MTV Management Shuffle

The expected management shuffle at MTV Networks
included a surprise revival, the return of ex-Comedy Central
President Larry Divney
to active duty. He supposedly "retired" last spring, but new MTV Networks Chairman Judy McGrath
has tapped him as COO of MTV Networks' advertising-sales unit. Divney replaces Bob Bakish, who moved into a slot at MTVN parent Viacom
when ex-MTVN Chairman Tom Freston
became co-president of the company.

Powell Promotes HDTV

Federal Communications Commission
Chairman Michael Powell
unveiled an online effort ( to encourage viewers to upgrade to digital. He even appeared on Monday Night Football to plug the campaign. The site includes a shopper's guide, FAQs and link to another online HDTV education effort (, the industry-backed portal created by Decisionmark. Not everyone was pleased. Activist group Commercial Alert
has asked Congress not to fund the FCC campaign, complaining the government shouldn't encourage the purchase of expensive new sets to create couch potatoes.

Kill Bill

The amendment that would have increased FCC
fines to $500,000 was stripped in a House/Senate conference from a Department of Defense Authorization bill that legislators are trying to pass before the session closes Oct. 9. Sen. Sam Brownback
(R-Kan.) wanted to reintroduce a bare-bones version as a separate bill at press time and will probably do so in the next Congress. But boosting the FCC's indecency fines and applying them to performers seems dead for now.

Race to Air

Expect CBS
to unleash season six of Emmy-winner The Amazing Race soon to shore up a sagging time slot or ratchet up competition on hotly contested nights like Tuesday. The network had planned to air it on Saturday nights later this fall, but Amazing
may be too good to waste on the weekend. The reality show's season five finale, Sept. 21, snagged a strong 12.2 million viewers and a 5.6 rating in 18-49s. Where CBS places it could sway the neck-and-neck 18-49 race.

Murdoch To Expand TV Empire

Already the major player in regional sports nets, News Corp.
Chairman Rupert Murdoch
wants to start a new national sports network to tackle ESPN. That's what he told investors at Goldman Sachs' Communicopia conference in New York last week. Murdoch also acknowledged that Fox News
will start two networks in relatively short order: one business news network, one focused on entertainment news.


The biggest employer in the Grand Rapids, Mich., area is Spectrum Health (Market Focus, 9/27, page 29).