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Fast Track - Broadcasting & Cable

Fast Track

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New NBC Stations Boss Stresses Local Focus

John Wallace, the new president of NBC's owned-and-operated stations, is urging his general managers to put as much of a local stamp on their product as possible.

“You'll see a big change in the focus on local in our digital strategy,” he says. “It's our intent to have a bigger presence in niche communities and get away from general news.”

Wallace emphasized “local portals” on the Web that cover topics such as health, entertainment and sports on an ultra-local level, citing WCAU Philadelphia's social-networking site, Digphilly.com, as the model. The goal is for each station's on-air and online products to look and feel unique to its market. He also vowed to make mobile distribution more of a priority.

A 19-year veteran of NBC, Wallace steps in for Jay Ireland, who returned to the parent corporation as president/CEO of GE Asset Management. —Michael Malone

Senate Panel OKs Tougher Indecency Authority for FCC

The Senate Commerce Committe approved a bill last Thursday that would give the commission the authority to regulate “fleeting profanities.”

The bill, sponsored by Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), is intended to reverse a recent federal appeals court ruling that challenged the FCC's indecency regime.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last month that the FCC had not justified why it had changed long-standing policy in ruling that a fleeting profanity was indecent. The ruling was a victory for broadcasters, who had challenged the commission's March 2006 indecency fines.

Rockefeller has long been critical of broadcasters on the issue of indecency. His Protecting Children From Indecent Programming Act would “require the FCC, in enforcing its regulations concerning the broadcast of indecent programming, to maintain a policy that a single word or image may be considered indecent.”

In a statement Thursday, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin praised the vote, which he said “affirmed the commission's ability to protect our children from indecent language and images on television and radio. Significantly, members of Congress stated once again what we on the commission and every parent already knows; even a single word or image can indeed be indecent.”

59th Emmy Awards Go Green

Will green be the new black at the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards?

In the latest instance of environmental consciousness in TV programming, Fox has pledged to reduce the “carbon footprint” of the awards show, which the network will air live Sept. 16 at 8 p.m. ET.

“We were inspired by Fox's commitment to the environment and we're eager to partner with them to make this year's Emmy events more eco-friendly and carbon-neutral,” says Dick Askin, chairman/CEO of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. “We are looking at every aspect of our Emmy season—from nominations to the Governors Ball—and making changes that will reduce our impact on the environment.”

Those changes include locally grown organic food for press and event guests, using recyclable materials and hybrid and alternative-fuel vehicles, replacing production golf carts with bicycles, and reducing power requirements (for example, turning down the air-conditioning inside the Shrine Auditorium). —Marisa Guthrie

BET Names Scott Mills President/COO

BET promoted CFO, Digital Media/President Scott Mills to president/COO.

The COO role was last held by BET's current Chairman/CEO Debra Lee, to whom he will report. Mills' role, however, is limited to overseeing business operations, whereas Lee had broader network responsibilities.

Mills, who has been president of digital media since January 2007 and CFO since 2003, will now oversee all of BET's business operations, including ad sales, marketing, legal, finance, digital and research. He remains based in Washington, D.C.

He joined BET in 1997 as senior VP of business strategy & business development. Prior to that, he was a VP of Lehman Brothers and deputy treasurer of the City of Philadelphia.

Filling the CFO slot is Michael Pickrum, and stepping up as president of digital media is MTV Networks executive Denmark West.

Pickrum, executive VP/COO of BET Interactive since 2003, will now manage financial operations for BET Networks and contribute to overall company strategy. West, executive VP/chief of operations, global digital media, for MTV Networks since January 2007, will oversee BET's digital products, including online, mobile and video-on-demand.

“It's an exciting time at BET Networks,” said Lee in a memo, “and with these three key executive appointments, our company is in an even better position to continue extending our leadership position, expanding our digital dominance across all platforms and building the BET brand internationally.—Anne Becker

WCSN on Yahoo!

World Championship Sports Network (WCSN) and Yahoo! Sports are partnering to make WCSN content available via Yahoo! in the run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

WCSN carries world championships in Olympic sports such as track & field, gymnastics, volleyball, and cycling. The network's content is also available on WCSN.com via a $4.95 monthly subscription.—Ben Grossman

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