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Fast Track - Broadcasting & Cable

Fast Track

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On the Media-Ownership Front

The FCC
set its hearing on media ownership for Thursday, Feb. 27, in Richmond, Va., at a site still to be decided. The announcement follows University of Southern California Annenberg School of Communication's confirmation of Tuesday, Feb. 18, as the date for its forum. That and the forum two weeks ago at Columbia University in New York have been sponsored by private parties. More privately sponsored hearings are being considered for Seattle, San Francisco and Chicago.

Meanwhile, House Energy and Commerce Committee
Chairman Billy Tauzin
(R-La.) wasn't predicting success for an effort by independent producers to get the FCC to cap at 75% the amount of self-owned programming the networks air in prime time. "I don't hear of anybody discussing anything right now," he said in a speech at the NATPE confab.

Well, former FCC Chairman James Quello
is talking about the proposed cap but is not saying anything nice about it. With "seven networks, more group broadcasters, hundreds of cable channels, more oncoming satellite channels and Internet outlets ... the independent program producers' [proposal] is far more unjustified and untimely. ... Today's multiplicity of program choices provides more than adequate diversification and individual choice."

Block That Mandate

An alliance of technology firms, consumer groups, think tanks and taxpayer rights groups yesterday called on the government to resist Hollywood's fight for federal copy-protection mandates for TV broadcasts, CDs and movies. "A mandate will raise the price of everything from CD players and DVD players to personal computers," said Fred McClure, president of the Alliance for Digital Progress. "It will make the devices consumers own today obsolete."

A warrior in the copy-protection fight, Hilary Rosen, last week called it quits as of the end of 2003. As chairman of the Recording Industry Association of America, Rosen led the music industry's fight against Internet piracy.

No. 1 Reason To Buy an HDTV...

Starting next September, David Letterman
will air in HDTV, CBS
told its affiliates at NATPE last week. He will be years behind his NBC
rival, Jay Leno. "Welcome to the 21st Century, Dave," quipped NBC Hollywood chief Jeff Zucker
when he heard of the Letterman initiative.

CBS also said that it is working hard to produce some of its NFL
coverage in HD next season. CBS operations and engineering executive Bob Ross
said it would be unrealistic to produce all the games in HD, but the network wants to do one game per week. CBS already generates more HDTV than any other, with most of its prime time, a daily soap opera (Young and the Restless) and college football produced in the format.

Viacom
executives briefed members of the UPN
affiliate board Monday and promised stations a significantly expanded effort to cross-promote UPN on an array of Viacom-owned properties, including cable, radio and broadcast TV. Network programmers also filled the stations in on more than a dozen shows that are in development for midseason and beyond, a slate one station exec praised as "A-level."

As one example of increased UPN cross-platform promotion, CBS Television
President and CEO Leslie Moonves
cited UPN's hip hop music show, Platinum, which will get promo time on both MTV
and BET, two Viacom owned cable networks. In addition, he said, Viacom-owned Infinity Broadcasting
radio stations will promote the network.

Correction

In the Jan. 20 story "Dotcom Scores With TV Web Sites," Cox Television should have been identified as the owner of 15 TV stations, not Cox Communications.

Sajak Tries New Spin

Wheel of Fortune
host Pat Sajak (above) will try his hand at a weekend talk show on Fox News Channel in addition to his Wheel
duties. Pat Sajak Weekend will be an hour Sunday-night show, with Sajak interviewing newsmakers. Come spring, the show will air at 9 p.m. ET, with At Large With Geraldo Rivera
moving to 10 p.m. Sajak had a short-lived late-night talk show on CBS in 1988.

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