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The week that was - Broadcasting & Cable

The week that was

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AT DEADLINE: Fox-VIACOM SWAP

Fox Television
and Viacom
won FCC approval on Friday for their three-market station swap. Under the deal, Viacom's Paramount Station Group will receive KBHK-TV
San Francisco from Fox and in return will provide Fox WDCA(TV)
Washington and KTXH(TV)
Houston. The deal allows both companies to create TV duopolies in the three markets. Viacom will be forced to sell one San Francisco radio station, however, because the new combo will violate limits on local TV/radio crossownership. No cash was exchanged in the transaction.

FULLY PROGRAMMABLE

For now on, call it The Speed Channel
. Or at least after Feb. 4, when cable network Speedvision
changes its name, under new Fox
ownership. ... VH1's airing of the Concert for New York City
Oct. 20 set a viewership record for the network, a 3.7 rating, according to Nielsen. ... NATPE
is laying off six support staffers, probably because of the financial strain caused by the exodus of nine major syndicators from next year's NATPE convention. ...

Full-season orders for new series: ABC, to According to Jim
and Alias;
Fox, to Undeclared;
The WB
to all three of its new Friday comedies (Maybe It's Me,
Reba
and Raising Dad) and Smallville;
NBC, to Law & Order: Criminal Intent
and Crossing Jordan.

Univision's WXTV(TV) in New York is starting its morning news an hour earlier, forming a 5-7 a.m. block. ... Nearly half of all Americans are interested in buying a TV in the next few years, according to a survey by the NAB
. ...

CBS
reality series Survivor
will go to the Marquesas Islands in the South Pacific for its fourth edition. It will be taped in Nuku Hiva, northeast of the Tahitian Islands. Survivor 4
is set to air in late February.

THE WAR ZONE

The Radio-Television News Directors Association
is running on reserves due to the cancellation of its annual conference—which had been scheduled to begin the day after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks—and a delay in its seven-figure insurance claim could bring a cash-flow crunch. RTNDA President Barbara Cochran
says she doesn't expect any insurance problems. Although hundreds of preregistrants are expected to ask for refunds by the organization's deadline at the end of the month, about 30 members have already signed over their registration fees. By mail, RTNDA elected Bob Salsberg, broadcast editor for Associated Press in Boston, as its chairman-elect for 2001-02. ...

ABC News anchor Carole Simpson
was suspended for remarks made at an Oct. 16 International Women's Media Foundation in which she revealed facts about the identity of the ABCproducer
whose son apparently contracted anthrax while visiting the network, and spoke about a suspicious letter received by her colleague Cokie Roberts, contradicting earlier network statements. Simpson later said she was sorry for the remarks. Simpson is back in November. ...

The FCC
has relaxed broadcasters' obligation to have on file all comments submitted by the public. Because of precautions implemented during the anthrax scare, many broadcasters are returning suspicious mail to the Post Office. Under the FCC order, stations for the next 60 days may exclude some comments from their public files. ...

At a conference last week, AOL President Raymond Oglethorpe
called the anthrax attacks that have disrupted snail mail "unfortunate" but said they should boost use of the Internet, a development he called "incredibly positive," according to a published report. ...

The Walt Disney Co.
completed its takeover of Fox Family Worldwide
for $5.2 billion, getting a $100 million reduction from what Disney originally agreed to pay News Corp. and Saban Entertainment
in July. That already enormous price looked even larger after Sept. 11 crushed the ad market. Industry executives said Disney's Michael Eisner
was looking for a $1 billion whack.

IT'S SHOW BIZ

Fisher Communications
said last week that it is in default with lenders and reduced the staff at its 12 network affiliates—including more than 20 employees at flagship KOMO-TV
Seattle. The broadcaster is carrying more than $200 million in long-term debt and asked lenders to waive the default. It is negotiating new agreements. ...

Three regional cable news networks—New England Cable News, Chicagoland TV
and Washington, D.C.'s NewsChannel 8
are teaming up create a combined ad sales force, run by Cablevision and Rainbow Advertising. Combined the channels reach 5.5 million.

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