The Week that Was


A New Net for NBA?

The National Basketball Association
and AOL Time Warner
are reportedly discussing creating a jointly owned basketball network.

Turner's TNT
and TBS, units of AOL Time Warner, are in the final year of a four-year $890 million deal, and they don't want to pay a blockbuster fee again; last season, the games averaged a 1.1 Nielsen rating. So they may be looking at alternatives. Former CBS Sports President Neal Pilson
says a joint venture would give AOL Time Warner leverage to retain the league's cable-TV package. Turner is still in an exclusive negotiating window with the league. If the window expires before the two sides can reach a new deal, though, AOL could face competition from Disney's ESPN
or the new ABC Family. The NBA is also in the last year of a four year $1.75 billion deal with NBC.

Names in the News

New AT&T Broadband
President Bill Schleyer
tapped another of his former Continental Cablevision
managers to run a major division. Exiting the company is Jim Mazur, president of AT&T Broadband's eastern region, to be replaced by Kevin Casey, who was named executive vice president of operations. ...

Broadcast trade groups are asking the FCC
to ensure that analog TV stations currently operating face no new interference when some stations begin taking channel allotments originally intended for digital service and using them for analog instead. The issue arises from a Sept. 17 ruling allowing Paxson Communications
and other TV-station owners operating on ch. 60-69 to give up those frequencies ahead of the government's deadline. ...

FCC Chairman Michael Powell
created the Homeland Security Policy Council
to help the agency evaluate and strengthen protections for U.S. communications services. It will be directed by Marsha MacBride, Powell's chief of staff. ...

Howard Stern's
late-night syndicated series The Howard Stern Radio Show
was pulled last week, but King World Productions
is developing a replacement show with him. The late-night syndicated comedy, called Kane, follows an off-the-wall Southern family. Stern is executive producer.

Ratings, DBS, Sirius (and, oh yes, Sex!)

gave Ellen DeGeneres's
new comedy, The Ellen Show, a full-season order last week, despite so-so ratings. It's from CBS Productions. ... The first full week of the November sweeps was split by NBC
and CBS.
CBS won the week of Nov. 5-11 in both households (9.4 rating/15 share) and total viewers (14.4 million), while NBC grabbed the adults 18-49 title with a 4.9/13, according to Nielsen Media Research. ...

The satellite TV industry and EchoStar
asked a federal court to delay the requirement that DBSers carry local signals in all markets by Jan. 1, while a lawsuit over the matter is pending. ... Sirius Satellite Radio
will launch in Denver, Houston and Phoenix on Feb. 14, the company says. It had planned a nationwide launch by the end of this year. ...

The Parents Television Council
says the family hour (8-9 p.m.) is still dominated by sex and violence. In a follow-up study, it studied TV from Aug. 3 to Nov. 10 and found 3,885 instances of sexual material, foul language and violence on the major broadcast networks in that hour. PTC said UPN
led in all three categories and Pax
was the least offensive. It's "too much," says PTC President Brent Bozell.

The Bell Tolls

Tribune Co.
is freezing salaries and whacking pay of 140 top executives 5% next year, while acknowledging that news demands are more crucial than ever. ... Caught in the dual crunch of a slumping tech and ad market, TechTV
laid off 130 employees Friday. That's a full 25% of its work force.

Weekly Kronicle

Talks betwen Young Broadcasting
and NBC
are "heating up, and they're serious" over KRON-TV
San Francisco, says a network source.

The big problem? NBC now views KRON as an independent (it loses its NBC affiliation in January) and won't pay more than half the $823 million Young paid for the station last year, besting NBC's offer and angering the network.

If the deal happens, NBC has to pay
Granite Broadcasting
a $14.5 million break-up fee. Its KNTV
paid a "reverse compensation" fee to become the NBC affiliate.