Deliver Us

Discovery Health's warm-and-fuzzy baby programming is getting up close and personal: a 10-hour marathon of live births, with camera crews set up in delivery rooms in at least three different hospitals waiting to take baby's first picture.

Showing births live on TV is not new (though a live maternity marathon probably is). America's Health Network did it back in 1998; Good Morning America
has done it as well.

Discovery Health has been working with obstetricians, patients and hospitals for months to manage the process. Mary Alice Williams will anchor the Feb. 17 4 p.m.-2 a.m. ET show.

The network's Senior VP Bob Reid said Birth Day was not a programming stunt. "Anything that educates women more about pregnancy and the health of their babies is valuable," Reid said.—J.M.H.

Like Mother…

The news that Liza Minelli and husband David Gest were suing Viacom-owned VH1 over a remark in a New York paper (New York Post) by an unnamed network executive regarding difficulties with their TV show (now cancelled) set off déjà vu alarms with PR pro Ted Faraone.

Back in the late 1950s, Minelli's mother, Judy Garland, and her husband and agent, Sid Luft, sued CBS (now Viacom-owned) for a remark made by an unnamed network source to a New York paper (the Herald Tribune) regarding difficulties with her TV show. In that case, columnist Marie Torre went to jail to protect her source in what is generally considered the first imprisonment of a journalist for refusing to testify.—J.E.

Friend of the Family

William Duhamel, president of the Rapid City, S.D.-based Duhamel Broadcasting, hopes new FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein learned something about the needs of stations in small and rural markets during his formative years in South Dakota.

The Adelstein and Duhamel families have been close ever since the commissioner's grandparents moved to the state 80 years ago. The friendship was close enough, Duhamel says, that his kids convinced Adelstein to go to Stanford University for undergraduate and master's degrees. Duhamel received his doctorate from the school.

Adelstein has not confided his views on media ownership to Duhamel, but his family friend hopes the FCC Democrat learned something from his father Stan, a Republican businessman twice elected to the state's House of Representatives. "I suspect over the dinner table Jonathan heard the business viewpoint," Duhamel says. Duhamel says TV duopolies will help shore up the finances of stations in small market with scarce ad revenues.—B.M.

It's a Guy Thing

The National Football League games on the broadcast nets drew a lot more men to the set this year than last. Fox had a 13% gain in men 18-34, and a 7% gain in men 18-49. Fox had an overall gain of 5%, with total viewership climbing to an average 16.2 million viewers. CBS didn't have a full-season tally at deadline, but through 16 weeks, the network's coverage was up 15% among men 18-34, and 8% among men 18-49. ABC's Monday Night Football
was up 16% with men 18-34 and up 11% with men 18-49, while total viewership was up 4% to an average 17 million.—S.M.

May May Exit NAB

Before this week is out, NAB may have to start thinking about a new No. 2 executive behind Eddie Fritts. Jim May, NAB's executive VP, government relations, for almost 15 years, is on the short list (two or three candidates) to replace Carol Hallett as CEO of the Air Transport Association. Hallett is retiring in April. May has run NAB's government-affairs department since joining NAB in 1988. A decision on whether he is their pick—and whether he will take the post if offered—could come as early as today (Jan. 6).—H.A.J.