In the Loop

Granite Chips Away at Duop Rules

Granite Broadcasting President Stuart Beck (below) is pushing state broadcast associations to take a stronger stand than the National Association of Broadcasters has on relaxing TV duopoly restrictions.

Last week, he pushed the Illinois Broadcasters Association, where Granite's WEEK-TV Peoria GM Mark DeSantis is chairman-elect, to pen a letter urging duopoly dereg, though neither opposing or proposing any particular scheme.

Beck is pushing groups in California, Minnesota and New York, where other Granite GMs hold board seats, to write letters. He says NAB's plan to permit TV pairs anywhere as long as one station has less than a 10 share won't help midsize and small markets, where there aren't enough stations for any to have a share that low.

IBA's letter didn't specify whether the NAB approach is inadequate, nor did it endorse Granite's call to do away with all restriction on TV pairs. It did, however, urge the FCC to relax sufficiently to help mid- and small-market stations that are "more at risk financially."—B.M.

Wide Bodies, Wide Pictures

NBA TV's experiments with HD production of regular-season and playoff games have been enough of a hit to have the league moving toward going full-time HD for its subscription service. Gregg Winik, NBA TV and NBA Entertainment executive VP of programming, says viewer response has been fantastic: "NBA TV is well-positioned to go full-time HD."—K.K.

Heeeeere's Johnny's House

The owner of former Tonight Show
host Johnny Carson's boyhood home in Norfolk, Neb., is auctioning the house on e-Bay, starting price $150,000 (at press time, there had been no nibbles). For those without that kind of change to plunk down on what is "sure to become one of the most beloved landmarks in America," according to the seller, also up for bid are nine lots of plaster from a renovated stairwell "which Johnny passed through many thousands of times." Starting price on those, a mere $9.99. Each chunk of plaster comes with a certificate of authenticity and a "documented" 12-digit code to ensure that no bogus plaster hunks can be passed off as Carson's own.—J.E.

KFTL's Higher-Priced Digital Switch

Spanish-language broadcaster Univision is buying KFTL(TV) Stockton, Calif., from Family Communications for $65 million, according to documents filed at the FCC. Univision would not comment on the price, but there is more to it than meets the eye.

Because KFTL is on ch. 62, the contract provides that Family would get half of any payout Univision receives if it clears off the channel early as part of the digital transition. Ch. 62 is located in spectrum the FCC plans to auction for advanced communications services when the digital transition is completed and broadcasters' second channel returned. To try to jump-start those services, the FCC is allowing broadcasters to take payments from those companies in exchange for giving up the channels early.—J.E.

Studio Name Game

Mutant Enemy, Once Upon a Frog, Persons Unknown, Deedle-Dee, Where's Lunch, Tea Gal, and Java Boy. New names for bands? No, some of the production companies filling the networks' schedules. The names were part of an appendix to an FCC filing by the Big Four networks showing just how many independent producers are represented on their airwaves, although some of these are "in association" with bigger names. The issue of whether giant studios have muscled independents off network schedules is part of the debate over whether to reinstate fin-syn rules.

We saved our favorite name for last: Dorothy Parker Drank Here. Who said long legal documents were dry?
—J.E.

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