The week that was - Broadcasting & Cable

The week that was

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FROM THE FRONT

The Baltimore Sun
last week reported that some WBFF(TV)
news staffers were concerned that a strong pro-Bush commentary that Sinclair Broadcasting instructed its on-air staff to read following the terrorist attack hurt the news department's claims of objectivity.

Then General Manager Bill Fanshawe
went on the offensive himself: He took a shot at the paper in an unusual on-air editorial that aired last week. "We question why The Baltimore Sun
has appointed themselves as the media watchdog for the coverage of this tragic event." Sun
TV reporter David Folkenflik
called Fanshawe's editorial "misguided." ...

Cable and DBS
companies will not be required to notify subscribers when complying with federal requests for subscribers' telephone and data records under antiterrorism legislation approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee
last week. The bill must still be approved by the full House and Senate. ...

The Grass Valley Group
cut 70 jobs, or 10% of its 711 employees last week. The layoffs include personnel at GVG's U.S. facilities in Grass Valley, Calif., and Beaverton, Ore. GVG President Tim Thorsteinson
said the World Trade Center tragedy was a major factor. The company usually does half its entire year's business in September and October: "When those planes hit on Sept. 11, everything stopped." He said revenue for fiscal first quarter 2002, ended Sept. 30, was 12% below projections. ...

TV news representatives are working on a plan to address security concerns about news helicopters in the wake of the terrorist attacks. News choppers remain grounded in the top 30 markets, according to Radio-Television NewsDirectors Association President Barbara Cochran, who participated in a meeting Friday between Federal Aviation Administration
officials and newsies. The FAA is worried about ID verification and the unpredictability of flight patterns. ...

A MEEKER LINK?

Looking like he'll be nearly
as feisty as Anne Robinson, relative unknown George Gray
is the host of NBC Enterprises'
upcoming syndicated version of Weakest Link.

In a pilot, Gray, wearing a Robinson-like all-black outfit, fired snide remarks to contestants. NBC Enterprises chief Ed Wilson
says the goal is to have the same feel as the network show but, since a strip is aired many times per week, "you need to be a bit more user-friendly." Apparently, NBC liked that Gray was mean, but not too mean. Gray is best known for hosting TLC's Junkyard Wars. ...

CHUTES AND LADDERS

XM, the nascent satellite radio service now available in Dallas, Fort Worth and San Diego, will launch in Los Angeles on Oct. 17, sources told BROADCASTING & CABLE on Friday. ...

Veteran WLS-TV
Chicago anchorman John Drury, 74, will retire next spring, after completing a five-month extension to his contract. That means he'll stay through May sweeps. Under a new deal, Chicago Sun-Times
columnist Robert Feder
reported, he'll will host two news specials each year through 2004. ...

The WB
is suing Michael Ovitz's
troubled Artists Television Group
over the failed production of reality show Lost in the USA. WB seeks just over $1 million that the network had fronted. Lost in the USA
was expected to debut this season but, because of ATG's financial woes, was canned before making it to air.

WASHINGTON WATCH

Rejecting complaints of some city governments, the FCC
last week said cable operators may pass the entire cost of local franchise fees to subscribers, including those on non-subscription revenues from home shopping, advertising and cable modems. Pasadena, Calif., and several other municipal regulators argued that cable companies should absorb any portion of fees not directly related to revenue from traditional video programming subscriptions. ...

Petitions for Supreme Court
review of a Washington federal appeals court's scrapping of FCC equal-opportunity-recruiting requirements are now due Oct. 17 after the Justice Department and the FCC asked more time to seek review. The request heartened David Honig, the lawyer for 36 groups planning to seek a high court hearing.

APPLAUD NOW

ABC's
daytime's 2000-01 season tied with NBC
as the No. 1 network among females 18-49, marking the 25th consecutive season that ABC has been on top. CBS
was the most-watched in daytime, with 5.1 million viewers. ...

Since re-branding, the Hallmark Channel
has raised what was Odyssey Channel's
household ratings by 50% and key female demos by more than 300% over last year.

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