Fast Track


Another Adelphia Guilty Plea

A second former Adelphia Communications
executive has pleaded guilty to fraud and agreed to testify against the Rigas family. Former Director of Accounting Timothy Werth
took a plea Friday in connection with the $2.5 billion accounting scandal at the now bankrupt company. Werth reported to former Treasurer James Brown, who pleaded guilty last November. "I knew at that time that what I was doing was wrong and that I should have walked out rather than agree to participate," Werth told U.S. District Judge Gerard Lynch. No sentencing date was announced.

NAB Pushes for Triopolies

In case you missed footnote 150 on page 81 of the NAB's recent pitch for relaxing duopoly rules, (see story, page 45), the trade group also is making the case for "triopolies," which would allow one owner to control three stations in a market. NAB suggests triopolies might be a good idea in large markets with 10 or 12 stations.

Shows and Business

Buena Vista Television's advertising sales division will handle all national advertising for Litton Syndications' new comedy strip, Ask Rita, starring comedienne Rita Rudner. In the show, Rudner and a panel of "equally unqualified" Hollywood friends dole out advice. "You ask your friends for advice and they don't know anything," said Rudner. "Why not ask me? I have a TV show." …

scored the highest ratings in its history—a 3.0—for its unique live coverage of the Rose Bowl Parade. …

After pushing itself as a discount video service, DBSer EchoStar
has raised its basic rates $2 a month, which is a hike of as much as 9% for many of its customers. The lowest package, America's Top 50 networks, will rise 8.7%, to $24.99. The company said that, on average, customers will see their bills rise 4%.

is revamping and renaming its history diginet. Discovery Civilization will become the Discovery Times Channel March 25, with a new focus on current events and recent history and a reliance on the expertise of its co-parent, The New York Times Co.
In April 2002, Times Co. paid $100 million for a 50% stake in the channel, which reaches about 25 million homes.


Kansas Republican Sam Brownback
was reappointed chairman of the Commerce Committee's Science, Technology and Space
subcommittee. Brownback pledged to continue examining the impact of media on public health, particularly in the areas of violent programming and tobacco advertising. …

Gannett Co.
Chairman and CEO Douglas H. McCorkindale
sold 50,000 shares of the company's stock last week, raising $3.6 million. The sales accounted for 9% of his direct holdings in Gannett, leaving him with 512,000 shares, currently worth $38.4 million. …

In a title saved for Chuck Dolan's dealmaking consiglieri, Cablevision Systems
named Hank Ratner
vice chairman of the company. Ratner had been vice chairman of Cablevision's Rainbow programming unit, most recently handling the sale of Bravo to NBC.

Nielsen Gets Another Boston Client

Hearst-Argyle and Nielsen signed an agreement providing the group broadcaster's two Boston-market stations—WCVB-TV and WMUR-TV Manchester, N.H.—with Local People Meter service. It's the first deal Nielsen has completed with any of the major broadcast-net affiliates in the market. It is just one part of a broader deal between the companies that will provide all 27 of Hearst-Argyle's TV stations with audience-ratings services for what sources say is a five-year hitch.

FX's Shield Still Kills

FX's bad-boy cop drama The Shield
stormed back for its second season Jan. 7 with a stellar 3.6 household rating and 4.4 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. Also last week, USA Network's The Dead Zone
showed it's still alive in its second season, premiering Jan. 5 to a robust 3.2 rating with 4.1 million viewers.