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Fast Track - Broadcasting & Cable

Fast Track

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Beyond Media Ownership

Expect a digital television bill from to emerge from the House Energy and Commerce Committee
either shortly before Congress breaks for the month of August or soon after it returns in early September, panel Chairman Billy Tauzin
(R-La.) said Tuesday. With committee ranking Democrat John Dingell (Mich.), Tauzin is working on legislation aimed at moving the DTV transition along. The bill will deal with DTV copy-protection, broadcasters' cable carriage rights/privileges, cable set-top–box requirements, TV stations' obligation to protect network picture quality and other issues.

Those Wacky Clintons

With Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's memoirs hitting bookstores next week, A&E
is fast-tracking its own on-screen version of her years in Washington. Hillary's Choice, based on Gail Sheehy's best-selling book of the same name, will be a two-hour original movie slated to air in early 2004. ...

A new cable net for women is aimed at the younger set. INetwork
wants to target women 18-24 with a mix of original programming and movies. Aiming to launch in early 2004, INetwork is headed by David Armstrong, most recently SVP of international TV distribution for MGM Worldwide Television Group.

A Fair Share

While the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau
has been touting its share gains, the Television Bureau of Advertising
is revved up about ratings. Comparing the ad-supported cable nets to ad-supported stations including Hispanic stations and independents (CAB only counts the Big Four, UPN, WB and Pax), TVB's massaging of Nielsen
numbers found that local broadcasting came out on top. Broadcasters recorded a 35.32 prime time rating for the just-completed season, compared with a 29.08 for ad-supported cable nets.

HD From Space

DirecTV
is rolling out a high-definition tier that will be anchored by ESPN HD, Discovery's HD Theater, HDNet
and HDNet Movies. The package, which launches July 1, will sell for $10.99 per month. Other HD program offerings, including NBA TV, USA Network
golf and NBA coverage, will also be available in the package. DirecTV already offers Showtime
and HBO
's high-def services as part of its premium service. Under a new out-of-market deal with the NFL, the DBS company will offer pro football in HD beginning next season.

Just Saying No to Olympics

CBS
did not bid on the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and 2012 Summer Olympic Games. "CBS is the best-positioned network in terms of overall programming and sports lineup," CBS said in a statement. "With all of the uncertainties surrounding two events that don't conclude for another nine years, committing significant rights and production expenses to the 2010 and 2012 Olympic Games is not the best use for our resources." Other networks submitted bids late last week.

Deaths

Veteran TV and film producer Jules Levy, 80, died May 24 in Los Angeles. With partners Arthur Gardner and Arnold Laven, he produced such TV hits as The Rifleman, The Big Valley and The Detectives. ...

Charles Barile, a publicist at UPN, died suddenly while on vacation in San Felipe, Mexico, the network said last week. Barile, 49, had been at UPN for four years and worked on WWE Smackdown!
and the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

More Days

NBC has renewed veteran daytime soap Days of Our Lives
through May 2009. The deal is reported to be worth $500 million. With the renewal comes the return of head writer James Reilly, who also created and serves as head writer on Passions, NBC's other daytime drama. Days
has been on NBC for 37 years.

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