Promoters from the American Forces Television Service, part of the U.S. Armed Forces Radio and Television Network, paid a visit to Fox last Friday for some basic training in edgy promotion from the folks at that network's marketing department. The service wants to "improve the visual make-up of the Army's on-air promos," according to a letter to the network, and hopes to learn from Fox's example.
Last fall, under new promo chief Roberta Mell, Fox launched a marketing and branding campaign that drew industry accolades. Eric Tassill, chief of the U.S. Armed Forces Radio and TV Network, says his organization tries to pay occasional visits to the broadcast nets to help educate the employees at the service's far-flung broadcast outposts.—P.A.
A Rainbow of Accolades for Bravo
While NBC execs toast the success of Bravo's makeover show, the folks over at the nets former parent, Cablevision's Rainbow Media Holdings, may be shaking their heads a bit. Queer Eye
(right) was in the works when NBC acquired Bravo last fall. But would the show have been as big on the old Bravo, where the highest-rated program was the venerable Inside the Actors Studio?
At NBC, the company and new Bravo President Jeff Gaspin, who also heads NBC's alternative programming, provided it with more production and promotional muscle than Rainbow likely could have. Case in point: the Queer Eye
guys, affectionately known as the "Fab Five," aired on NBC after Will & Grace
two weeks ago and currently grace the cover of Entertainment Weekly.
Good sport Rainbow Media CEO Joshua Sapan congratulated NBC last week, saying: "We are delighted to see their success and happy to have been a part of creating it."—A.R.
FCC Eyes 70/70
AOL Time Warner and other cable giants could face new battles over their ability to own both programming and cable systems or over other restrictions floated by opponents of media concentration.
The FCC raised the prospect quietly in last week's inquiry into video programming competition. For its 2003 report, the commission wants to know if cable subscribership has passed the "70/70" trigger giving the FCC the right to impose "any additional rules necessary to promote diversity of information sources." The Communications Act gives the FCC that power when 70% of U.S. homes are passed by cable systems offering at least 36 channels and 70% of those homes subscribe. "There's plenty of room for mischief here," said Washington cable attorney Frank Lloyd. The trigger had not been met in 2000, the last time the FCC weighed in on the 70/70 test. Data culled from the 2002 competition report found nearly 98% of homes were passed by cable but only 67% of them had subscribed.—B.M.
Unless our ears deceived us last week during the Senate Commerce Committee hearing on broadcasters' public service obligations—we were tapped into the Webcast—the rambling radio history from one senator put the Wanamaker building in Philadelphia and David Sarnoff listening attentively for news of the survivors of the Lusitania sinking in 1912. The ship was, of course, the Titanic, and Wanamaker's, at least the one that Sarnoff was atop, was in New York.—J.E.
Veteran New York broadcaster and wordsmith Bill O'Shaughnessy issued an edict last week levying fines for on-air guests and show hosts on his WVOX(AM)/WRTN(FM) New Rochelle, N.Y., stations who used the exclamation "absolutely!" as well as business-speak phrases "make it happen," "gettin' it done," "doing what it takes," "win-win situation," and "24/7."
Enter former New York governor and present O'Shaughnessy friend Mario Cuomo, who applauded the intent, but not the "right-wing draconian punishment." His reponse in a letter: "[T]his is to state to you absolutely ($5) that I will do nothing to help you make it happen ($25) and will do what it takes ($35) to create a win-win situation ($85) by defying your mandate while on-air and am requesting that you contribute the fines I will pay to the Catholic education of poor children. I'm never sure when I will be on your air, so that you may take this to be a 24/7 ($75) commitment. The letter was signed "absolutely ($165) yours," and included a check for that amount.—J.E.