Fast Track

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Cox Opts for TNT Plus

As part of a new multinetwork distribution pact, Cox Communications
has signed on for the fully loaded version of TNT, now dubbed TNT Plus. Turner
is offering MSOs two versions of TNT: a pricier option with NASCAR and NBA events or a stripped-down, sports-free version. Corporate cousin Time Warner Cable
has already signed on for TNT Plus. Turner is said to be seeking a 10% increase for TNT Plus over its average 70 cents license fee. Terms of the Cox deal, though, were not available. The Cox deal also secured multiyear carriage for Turner nets CNN, Headline News, TBS Superstation, Cartoon Network, TCM, Turner South, Boomerang, CNNfn,
CNN en Español.

Will Mel Stay?

Viacom
COO Mel Karmazin
wouldn't tip his hand about whether he'll stay at Viacom or go, but he did say he wants the issue resolved in short order.

When asked at the CS First Boston
annual media conference last week whether an announcement would be made this year, he said that "it would be my hope to do something sooner rather than later." He wants to stay at the company with Chairman and CEO Sumner Redstone
only if "I can add more value to Viacom and have a lot of fun." He and Redstone have clashed, and Karmazin's contract is up at the end of next year.

Karmazin also said that, of Vivendi Universal
properties that might come available, Viacom is keenly interested in Sci Fi Channel
but not the company's music or movie divisions or even USA Network, which he considers too broadbased.

Media Monitor

Lifetime
is dumping one of its Sunday-night original dramas and renewing another for a fourth season. Freshman legal series For the People won't be back for a second season. The show has been averaging a 1.9 rating and will end Feb. 16. Strong Medicine, Lifetime's medical drama, will return for a fourth season next July. The show is currently averaging a 2.5 rating in its third season. Lifetime's third original show, The Division, returns for season three with new episodes in January. ...

Hearst Entertainment
is turning co-owned CosmoGIRL! magazine into a syndicated half-hour lifestyle series of the same name for fall 2003. The show is being billed as FCC-friendly, which means it is expected to meet the educational requirements that count toward fulfilling a TV station's mandated three hours a week of educational children's programming. CosmoGIRL!
is being offered on a 31/2-minute barter split. ...

Nielsen Media Research
will add Austin, Texas, and Tucson, Ariz., to its list of markets participating in the local Hispanic Station Index, beginning in February. The additions bring the total to 18. Nielsen will measure Spanish-language viewing through samples from both Spanish-speaking and bilingual homes, separate from its general market samples. ...

In an effort to bridge any ITV gaps, the Advanced Television Systems Committee
(ATSC) and CableLabs
have agreed to "harmonize" their technical specifications for interactive television. Under terms of the agreement, an architectural framework combining a number of elements from the DASE standard (ATSC's ) and the OCAP standard (CableLabs') will be outlined.

Corrections

Fred Reynolds is president and CEO of Viacom's station group. He was incorrectly identified on page 42 of the Dec. 9 issue.

AOL Time Warner owns 11% of the National Basketball Association's new NBA TV channel. Its ownership stake was incorrectly reported in a Dec. 9 In the Loop item on page 8.

Super Alias Action

ABC will give the prized post-Super Bowl time slot to action hour Alias, starring Jennifer Garner (above). "The episode that J.J. Abrams has written to air post-Super Bowl ... may be the best hour of pure entertainment we've seen," says ABC Entertainment President Susan Lyne. The post-Super Bowl spot guarantees that millions of viewers will sample the show.

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