Fast Track


Funny, It's All We Ever Read About

A new survey by Project for Excellence in Journalism
and the Pew Research Center
concludes that nearly three-quarters of Americans have heard nothing about the debate over media ownership. It also suggests, citing media critics, that one reason "is that news organizations have failed to cover the debate, both because it is a technical regulatory agency matter and because there is an inherent conflict of interest for the news media in covering their own industry."

The study is the second from PEJ in only a few weeks that raises questions about changes in media ownership. A study released last month suggested that local newscasts could suffer from further concentration of media ownership.

And Now, the News

will reduce its investment stake in fellow Spanish-language broadcaster Entravision
in order to win government approval of its $3 billion acquisition of radio giant Hispanic Broadcasting Corp.
Univision said last week it has reached agreement with the Justice Department to cut its 27% stake in Entravision Communications to 10% over the next six years. Following an FCC ruling on the merger, expected shortly, the companies plan to consummate the meld March 14. …

Oprah Winfrey
is bringing her once-discontinued Book Club back to her syndicated talk show. This time around, only three to five books will be featured on the show each year. The segment, tentatively titled "Traveling With the Classics," will be shot on location (one associated with the book, such as the author's birthplace or the book's setting). …

President Eddie Fritts' speech to the Media Institute had to be canceled last week, due to the death of his father-in-law, John Pierce Richie, late Tuesday. Fritts and wife, Martha Dale, traveled to Tennessee for the funeral. ...

recruited print veteran Judith H. Dobrzynski
to be managing editor. Most recently, she has been deputy business editor of The New York Times
and editor of the paper's Sunday "Money & Business" section, positions she has held since 2000. At CNBC, she will oversee CNBC's Business Day
news desk and help steer business-news coverage.

News From the Nets

has quietly scrapped its Tuesday-night 8-9 p.m. programming and will replace it with specials from now through most of the May sweeps, sources say. The network started the season with veteran sitcom Just Shoot Me and rookie The In-Laws, but both have disappeared. Now NBC is also deciding whether new comedy A.U.S.A. will remain on the air, after a mediocre ratings performance in its first three outings. One possible replacement: Julia Louis-Dreyfus's Watching Ellie, which filled in on NBC's schedule last year at about this time. ...

got a huge sampling last Monday night for the first episode of midseason comedy My Big Fat Greek Life, which drew 22.7 million viewers and was the most-watched show of the night. CBS said that's the biggest audience for a first episode of a new comedy—on any network—since NBC's Jesse in 1998 and on CBS since Cosby in 1996. ...

The Grammy Awards hit No. 1 with a bullet on Feb. 23, scoring a 14.7 rating/23 share in households, according to Nielsen Media Research's fast national index. That's a 24% improvement over last year's telecast. The Grammys were up 31% in viewers (24.9 million) from last year, 9% in adults 18-34, 26% in adults 18-49 and 34 % in adults 25-54.

Sarah the Series Slayer

Sarah Michelle Gellar is driving a stake into Buffy the Vampire Slayer
after this, its seventh season. The show's future has been shaky all year, but Gellar finally confirmed to creator Joss Whedon that she would not return. "It's hard to believe it's over," Whedon said. "Well, it's hard to think at all, or stand, or form vowel sounds, so maybe it's time to take a break." Both Whedon and UPN are interested in a Buffy spin-off, but probably not this fall.