Fast Track

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Comcast Looks at Vivendi

Just to make Vivendi Universal Entertainment's odd, lengthy auction just a little odder, parent company Vivendi has coaxed Comcast
to take a look. It was just three weeks ago that the cable giant was being praised for maintaining financial discipline by agreeing to sell its half of QVC
to partner Liberty Media
for $7 billion, rather than buying Liberty out. But, with the QVC deal pending and the turnaround of AT&T Broadband
progressing, Comcast executives have become emboldened to start sniffing around. Meanwhile, MGM's temper tantrum seemed to work. After protesting that Vivendi was providing too little information too slowly, the company had meetings and information exchanges with Vivendi last week.

Minority Reports

A carve-out aimed at helping minorities, women and small businesses get into radio does little to offset the damage caused by the FCC's broadcast-ownership deregulation, agency Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein
told minority media executives last week.. The commissioner expressed concern to the Minority Media Telecommunications Council
about a provision of the new rules intended to increase chances that some local radio clusters would be sold to minorities. Trouble is, Adelstein said, he doubts that minority buyers will be able get the capital to afford to buy. ...

Meanwhile, Adelstein and fellow commissioner Michael Copps
are scheduled to join some Democratic legislators, PBS
President Pat Mitchell
and anti-deregulation activists at the University of Wisconsin in Madison for a Nov. 7-9 media conference organized by Mediareform.org. ...

Radio One
and Comcast
made their partnership on a new, black-oriented cable network official last week. The two companies, Constellation Ventures, Opportunity Capital Partners, Pacesetter Capital Group
and Syndicated Communications
are new investors. The channel debuts in January. The six companies will pony up $130 million over the first four years. ...

TV Guide Channel
will promote Spanish-language programming in its digital cable listings. Beginning in August, it will add a tier, in Spanish, promoting listings and descriptions as well as offering operators their own opportunities to run Spanish-language promotions.

Private Stories

CBS News
President Andrew Heyward
said CBS News mishandled its attempt to get an interview with Pvt. Jessica Lynch, in suggesting via a letter that other units of CBS and its corporate owner, Viacom, would probably also be interested in making contractual deals with her. Heyward said no quid pro quo was suggested to Lynch, but, he admitted to critics on the press tour, "the letter was misconstrued, and a perception of such a link was created. ... So, to the degree that people misunderstood or thought it was inappropriate, that's not good. And we're obviously going to handle it differently the next time." Meanwhile, NBC Entertainment chief Jeff Zucker said NBC is about to start filming its Jessica Lynch biopic, which he said is in its fifth rewrite and is being "constantly" revised. NBC's version is based in part on the account of an Iraqi attorney who Zucker said helped save her life. But he also acknowledged that the film is also being based on information as it is being made public.

Clarification

A Breaking item in the July 21 edition correctly reported that Dick Askin would replace Bryce Zabel as the new head of Academy of Television Arts and Sciences but neglected to note Zabel will stay on until Oct. 1.

Joey Gets Own Show

NBC will spin off a sitcom titled Joey
and starring Friends
star Matt LeBlanc (above) in fall 2004, NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker announced last week at the television critics press tour in Los Angeles. Friends ends after this season, as the whole world knows.

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