The week that was


New kids in town

Fox Kids Network
unveils its fall Saturday-morning slate Sept. 8, with new series Transformers: Robots in Disguise
(8 a.m. ET/PT), Medabots
(9:30 a.m.), Moolah Beach
(10 a.m.), The Ripping Friends
(11 a.m.) and Alienators: Evolution Continues
(11:30 a.m.). Moolah Beach
is a six-episode reality special featuring 12 teens competing for $25,000. Transformers: Robots in Disguise
will also air at 2:30 p.m. each weekday. The weekday schedule starts Monday Sept. 10. ... NBC
won its 17th straight weekly crown in adults 18-49 Aug. 6-12, averaging a 2.9 rating/9 share, according to Nielsen Media Research. ABC finished a close second in adults 18-49 (2.8/9) and won the week in total viewers (8.2 million). NBC's Friends
and ABC's debuting The Wayne Brady Show
were the top-rated shows of the week in adults 18-49, averaging 4.9/17 and 4.9/16, respectively. A "Best of" episode of NBC's Fear Factor
finished third for the week, with a 4.6/15.

By the numbers

After trying to hold the line on pricing, Discovery Communications
is slicing ad rates in the upfront market more than 10%. Dobb Bennett, president of Discovery's 49% owner Liberty Media, said that, with the upfront market "sluggish, sloppy and not very attractive overall," the network group has seen a "low-teens decline" in the cost-per-thousand viewers it can charge. However, total ad revenues should be flat because audience delivery by Discovery Channel, TLC and Animal planet are up about the same percentage. ... Cable operators added more than 1.3 million digital-cable subscribers in the second quarter of 2001, according to the National Cable and Telecommunications Association,
bringing the total U.S. digital-cable universe to 12.2 million. Cable operators also added 920,000 new cable-modem subscribers in that period, now totaling more than 5.5 million, the association said. Finally, the industry added more than 200,000 residential telephone customers and counts 1.3 million phone subscribers nationwide.

The buzz

show host Katie Couric
drew fire last week when the show posted the address of a legal-defense fund for Andrea Yates, the woman who has admitted drowning her five young children in a bathtub in June. Then Couric said leftover money would go to women's charities that deal with post-partum depression. Critics said that amounted to an endorsement of Yates' defense. "In hindsight, we might have done it differently," an NBC spokeswoman said, but the network also said Couric was unfairly singled out for criticism when all she did was read information Today
staffers presented to her. ...

The Senate Commerce Committee
has tentatively scheduled a hearing on TV violence for Sept. 26, sources say. …Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Fritz Hollings
(D-S.C.) is reportedly working on legislation that would require development of standards to govern the way digital content is copy-protected. ...

Lee Masters
didn't become a billionaire, but his Liberty Digital
compensation package has gotten him more than $100 million so far. As initially reported by the Denver Post, SEC filings show that, even though Liberty Digital's stock price has collapsed along with other Internet companies, CEO Masters recut his options deal with the company and collected $50 million in cash and as much as $90 million in Liberty stock. Masters was vacationing and couldn't be reached for comment. ...

The Miss America Pageant
will borrow some elements from the reality craze, particularly Survivor,
in an effort to raise sluggish ratings for the 80-year-old competition. Miss America and ABC
officials have changed the rules, giving each eliminated contestant a vote for the winner. Viewers will also be taken backstage throughout the show to hear who the contestants believe is the front-runner. The show airs Sept. 22. ...

Former FCC Chairman James Quello
has become a government-affairs consultant to Washington law firm Wiley, Rein & Fielding. Quello, who served on the commission for 23 years, had parked his pen at Wiley, Rein over the past three years, using an office there to write his memoirs, My Wars: Surviving the WWII and the FCC.

Joe Early
is being upped to senior VP of publicity and corporate communications at Fox Broadcasting. Early, who was VP of entertainment publicity at Fox, replaces Christina Kounelias as the network's top publicity executive. ...

TBS Superstation's original blockbuster The Triangle, starring Dan Cortes and Luke Perry on a fishing trip to the infamous Bermuda Triangle, premiered Aug. 12 to a 5.3 overnight rating in metered markets. The rating dwarfs the 2.8 TNT garnered for its original film about the ultra-cool James Dean the week before.