Station Break


Supreme vindication

The Supreme Court may have finally ended the protracted litigation between a syndicator and a station group that didn't pay to rerun old TV shows.

The high court last week refused to hear the appeal by C. Elvin Feltner's Krypton International Corp. of a decision that it had aired reruns of Columbia Pictures Television's T.J. Hooker, Silver Spoons, Who's the Boss
and Hart to Hart
without paying for them. Krypton, which owned stations in Florida and Alabama, subsequently went bankrupt and no longer owns TV stations.

The case had been before the Supreme Court before, following a 1994 judge's ruling that Feltner owed Columbia $9 million. Feltner won the right to have his case heard before a jury, which proceeded to more than triple the judge's $9 million award.

The latest appeal asked the high court to consider whether a jury should have decided whether he should be penalized for each of more than 400 times the shows aired or fined once for each of the four shows. The court rejected the appeal, thereby leaving the higher award in place.

Attorneys for Feltner said they were considering their options but acknowledged that the Supreme Court decision limits those options.

Preaching to the choir

Thousands of attendees at the National Religious Broadcasters Association's annual conference in Nashville, Tenn., last week heard Attorney General John Ashcroft provide a spiritual foundation to the war on terrorism, saying that the "the guarding of freedom that God grants is the noble charge of the Justice Department." He also thanked the group, which represents more than 1,300 religious TV and radio broadcasters, for "leading our culture to prayer." Ashcroft is the son of a minister and himself a lay minister.

President Bush also provided a taped greeting, calling theirs a "noble calling" and "important mission" and taking the opportunity to put in a plug for his faith-based initiative as "one of the ways we are fighting the war against terrorism."

Unveiling Islam

Noncommercial WNET(TV) New York is offering two 90-minute tapes and study guides free to schools and community organizations—while supplies last—to promote understanding of Islam and its role in the war on terrorism.

Included in the series will be 18 stories explaining Muslim practices and beliefs. "Commercial broadcast coverage of religion," said Sarah Frank, VP/director of education, Thirteen/WNET, "almost disappeared in the 1980s when the FCC eliminated the religious-programming requirement."


Will Wright, longtime news director at WWOR-TV New York, is now executive producer at BET Nightly News. He was credited with boosting WWOR-TV's news product, winning accolades as well as ratings, but lost his job when the former Chris-Craft station joined Fox's WNYW(TV) New York in a duopoly. BET's weekday news program had been located in Washington but is moving this week to CBS headquarters in New York.

Birds get own Net

Add the Baltimore Orioles to the list of proprietors of regional sports networks. The new Orioles Television Network will produce, sell and market Orioles broadcasts. Flagship stations will be WJZ-TV and WNUV(TV) Baltimore and WBDC-TV Washington. Plans call for a network of 10 to 12 stations in six states. Orioles Television will produce 74 broadcasts this season.

Hayward celebrates 30 years at WUSA

WUSA(TV) Washington took time in a newscast last week to commemorate the 30th anniversary at the station of anchor JC Hayward. She was hired by the late, legendary WUSA News Director Jim Snyder and has been lauded for community involvement as well as for award-winning stories.

With this anniversary, Hayward joins two other 30-plus-year veterans at the station: Gordon Peterson and Mike Buchanan. Crosstown anchor, WRC-TV's Jim Vance, is also a member of that elite club.