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Fast Track - Broadcasting & Cable

Fast Track

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Liberty's Done Deal

The FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION signed off on LIBERTY MEDIA's planned buyback of 120.3 million shares from COMCAST CORP. Liberty won early termination of an antitrust review of the deal, which is the final stage of the company's buyout of Comcast's 57% stake in QVC. The latest move calls for Liberty to fork over $545 million in cash, plus some programming assets. Those include a 10% stake in E! ENTERTAINMENT TELEVISION and STYLE (which Comcast already manages) and 100% of Liberty's INTERNATIONAL CHANNEL NETWORKS.

Lit Fuse: Get Out and Vote

FUSE kicked off its "Electile Dysfunction 2004" campaign to conquer voter apathy and give young voters a forum to voice their issues for the 2004 election. From the Democratic National Convention (DNC) through Election Day, Fuse is airing PSAs and programming starring musicians such as BLACK EYED PEAS, CHINGY and JADAKISS. The goal is the get 18- to 34-year-old viewers to respond to daily online polls and encourage them to vote. Fuse VJs brought viewer issues to politicians and delegates in special reports from the DNC, which appeared on the network's flagship live daily telecast, Daily Download. During the Republican Convention, Fuse will air expanded two-hour live coverage from its streetfront New York City studio. Fuse has also teamed up with documentary filmmaker DAVID BURROWS (America Speaks Out) to co-produce behind-the-scenes political stories.

Amish Scores Big for UPN

Proving the axiom that no publicity is bad publicity, the premiere of UPN's Amish in the City was huge for the smallest of the six broadcast networks. The two-episode premiere at 8-10 p.m. on July 28 gave UPN second place behind only Fox in adults 18-34 and adults 18-49, according to NIELSEN's preliminary affiliate ratings. The show took third in total viewers with 5.2 million people. Amish in the City also outperformed UPN's season average on Wednesday nights by 120% in adults 18-34, 100% in adults 18-49 and 83% in total viewers.

Separately, WLYH Lancaster, Pa., has decided to run the reality series. The UPN affiliate initially refused to broadcast the show until it could review the premiere episode.

À la Carte on FCC Menu

The FCC has given consumer groups—and the public—till Aug. 13 to file comments regarding à la carte cable service. Led by SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-Ariz.), Congress has been pressuring the FCC to require cable to offer unbundled services. McCain argues that à la carte could lower cable bills. Others concerned about cable indecency say it would help viewers control content by exclude channels they consider inappropriate. The cable industry counters says it will lead to higher prices and push niche channels off lineups.

Family Makeover on Fox

Makeovers gone crazy is the theme of a new reality show coming to Fox. Family Time (working title) plans remakes of families' looks, bodies, homes, cars and even pets. The show is from ROCKET SCIENCE PRODUCTIONS, which also brought Fox reality programs such as Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy and Joe Millionaire. JAY MCGRAW, son of DR. PHIL MCGRAW, will host Family Time, drawing on his experience guest-hosting on his father's hit daytime syndicated show.

TNT: Drama Queen

TNT is ordering pilots for a legal drama and a crime drama as it hunts for a recurring series to put on next year. The Closer is a cop drama about a female deputy chief who heads the LAPD's high-profile murder-investigation unit. The second pilot is The Line, about a ruthless Miami federal prosecutor.

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