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Fast Track - Broadcasting & Cable

Fast Track

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The Big-Media Squeeze

A trio of moderate Republican senators, including Communications Subcommittee member Olympia Snowe
(R-Maine), is asking FCC Chairman Michael Powell
not to change any media-ownership rules without first checking with Congress and the public. In a letter to the chairman, Sen. Wayne Allard
(R-Colo.), Snowe and Susan Collins
(R-Maine) said that independent ownership of media outlets "results in more diverse media voices, greater competition among owners, and the production of more local content." They also said justifying the changes required getting further public comment on the proceeding.

The next informal forum on the FCC's media-ownership review has been set for April 7 in Phoenix at the studios of Arizona State University-owned noncommercial KAET-TV. The forum will be conducted by the Benton Foundation in association with the university's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Maricopa Community College district's Center for Civic Participation. Of the five commissioners, only Michael Copps is currently scheduled to attend.

Shifting Sands of TV

Keeping its promise to premiere more shows in the summer, Fox
will launch hour drama Keen Eddie Tuesday, June 3 at 9 p.m. ET. The show takes the spot of 24, which will have its season finale May 20. ...

NBC
is pulling the plug early on its run of revived game show Let's Make a Deal, replacing it with specials. In its place this Tuesday at 8 p.m. will be Child Stars, Then and Now,
narrated by Malcolm Jamal-Warner
of Cosby Show fame. Had the game show been successful, it would have been a candidate for syndication. ...

TBS Superstation
fended off competition from WE: Women's Entertainment
and ABC Family
to buy cable rights to The WB's youthful drama Dawson's Creek. TBS will pay Sony around $200,000 per episode to air the drama in daytime. Sony can still sell the show into broadcast syndication.

The Sopranos' star James Gandolfini will be back for season five on HBO. Gandolfini, who reportedly wanted HBO to double his pay, dropped his suit against HBO and reaffirmed his existing deal. HBO notified the cast and crew Wednesday to report for work the first week in April. Production had originally been set for March 24 but was delayed because of the contract fight. Gandolfini, who plays New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano, is returning to work under his original contract. That deal, which covers a fifth and possibly a sixth season, earns between $275,000 and $400,000 per episode.

Tipping Points?

Teenagers now spend more time with digital media than they do watching TV, according to a new study by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Time spent with digital media—the computer, the Internet, and videogames—now totals 3.5 hours per day, vs. 3.1 hours in front of the television. For all kids (ages 2-17), the time is about evenly divided, with TV still in the lead at 3.1 hours a day vs. 2.9 with digital media. ...

Stu Olds, CEO, Katz Media Group, says "superb" feedback from its first sold-out (300-plus) Women's Career Summit (held in New York last Wednesday) means that it is likely to be an annual event. "While the advertising industry and Katz Media are widely populated by women, the majority remain at the middle-management level, unable to break through into running a division with true bottom-line accountability or board-of-director visibility," Olds says.

A Little Bit of Monica on TV

Infamous White House intern Monica Lewinsky (right) is coming to Fox as host of the upcoming Mr. Personality, produced by Nash Entertainment. The show premieres Monday, April 21 at 9 p.m. ET, in the time period Fox has dubbed its "reality wheel." In the show, a young, beautiful single woman will court several eligible but masked men who compete to win her over. Bruce Nash and Brian Gadinsky are executive producers.

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