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The week that was - Broadcasting & Cable

The week that was

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BASIC CABLE NEWS

Charter Communications
will cut off 125,000 deadbeat subscribers—that's more than double the number of new basic subscribers that Charter added for all of 2001, when growth was a mere 0.6%. Basic growth ran 2.5% in 2000. Charter increased revenues 14%, to $1.1 billion, during the fourth quarter, while cash flow increased just 7%, to $485 million. …

Now that it's time to pay for TNT's new NBA-rights deal, Turner Broadcasting's top distribution executive contends he's trying to avoid any kind of showdown with operators by pitching them what it considers a reasonable rate increase for the network. "I'm looking at being collaborative in this," Turner's Andy Heller
said. He has a "plan B": blacking out TNT's best programs to operators unwilling to pay.…

Discovery Networks
tapped company veteran David Karp
to run its digital networks group. He will report to John Ford, president of Discovery Nets' content group. The post had briefly been held by Lori McFarling, who moved back to affiliate sales. …

Media mogul and CNN
founder Ted Turner, speaking at Brown University
said the Sept. 11 terrorists were "brave at the very least" but probably "a little nuts," according to the Associated Press. "The reason that the World Trade Center got hit is because there are a lot of people living in abject poverty out there who don't have any hope for a better life," he said. …

After a quick blast of protests, MSO Comcast Corp.
said last week it will stop keeping records of the Web-browsing activity of its high-speed Internet customers. Rep. Ed Markey
(D-Mass.), privacy advocates and Web surfers complained. ...

The New York Post
reported that Lifetime
is seeking a 150% hike from Cablevision, the cable operator based on Long Island. Kagan Media
says that Lifetime collects just 15 cents per sub from operators monthly, fees it negotiated when it wasn't such a hot network. That's far less than other nets that get comparable ratings, such as TNT's 57 cents and USA Network's 38 cents. Cablevision says it doesn't expect the dispute to escalate to Lifetime's pulling its programming from the operator.

CHANNEL HOPPING

When CBS
affiliate (and regular-season home of the New England Patriots) WBZ-TV
Boston began its post-Super Bowl coverage, it switched the movie it had been showing, Sabrina, to UPN duopoly partner WSBK-TV. Sabrina
kept most of its 4.1 audience, and WBZ-TV moved into double digits with its post-game show. WBZ-TV has been experimenting with duopoly programming and, a week earlier, aired its post-AFC Championship
show over WSBK-TV while it carried the network feed of the Phoenix Open
golf tournament. …

Former UPN
President and CEO Dean Valentine
and Viacom
kissed and made up just in time for the holiday. On Valentine's Day, he settled his $22 million breach-of-contract lawsuit, reportedly for nearly half what he was asking. He filed the suit last September, contenting that Viacom had failed to work out a final contract with him and set up an agreeable salary structure. …

King World's new daytime syndicated series The Ananda Lewis Show
appears to be over, but the syndicator said no decision will be made until the end of the February sweeps. …

Meredith Broadcast
chief Kevin O'Brien
continued to shake things up at the company he was brought in to run in November. O'Brien dismissed Allen Shaklan
at WGCL-TV
Atlanta. Only weeks before, Rusty Durante
left as general manager at Meredith's KVVU-TV
Las Vegas and Patrick North
left KPHO-TV
Phoenix. …

Dick Clark Productions
has been acquired for $140 million by a group of investors that includes the Mosaic Media Group
and veteran TV executive Jules Haimovitz. Clark will continue to serve as chairman and CEO of the company he founded in 1957.

AT THE COMMISSION

The FCC
proposed last week to make cable and other non-telephone-based Internet providers collect contributions for the universal service fund, which subsidizes telephone service to rural areas and hooking libraries to the Internet. The FCC also proposed to absolve telephone companies of a requirement to carry competing ISPs when they offer broadband digital subscriber lines. …

Bidders agreed to pay a total of $6.1 million for four new analog-TV stations in an FCC auction last week. The results were cast in doubt, however, when one participant charged that the top bidder for two stations had not revealed some broadcast-industry interests and should be disqualified.

Roberts Broadcasting
agreed to pay $2.5 million for ch. 47 Columbia, S.C., and $1.9 million for ch. 34 Jackson, Miss. Knoxville Channel 25
charged that Roberts owner Michael Roberts
failed to disclose that he is a director of Acme Communications, which holds an attributable interest in nine television stations; bidders are not permitted to hold attributable rights to more than three.

He said he had resigned the seat before the auction.

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