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Discovering All the News That Fits TV

November 8, 2004 12:00 AM

On Nov. 2, for the first time in its 153-year history, The New York Times allowed reporters covering the 2004 vote count, including Todd Purdum, to be interviewed on TV during the evening for a series of three-minute reports called "Page One." The reports aired on the Discovery Times Channel, which is jointly owned by The Times and Discovery Networks. The reporters and cameras shared with viewers not only news and analysis but also insights into the process of covering the election, including part of a meeting where stories are chosen for the front page.

The real significance of the breakthrough became clear the day after the election, when The Times announced it would shutter NYT Television, its Greenwich Village-based TV production unit, resulting in the loss of 24 jobs, including that of William "Bill" Abrams, the former ABC News exec and Wall Street Journal reporter who headed the operation that produced Times-branded shows for PBS, A&E, TLC and others. NYT Television was formed in 1995 after The Times acquired Video News International. "We are still commited to TV," said Times spokesman Toby Usnik, "but now our focus is on the Discovery Times Channel."

-ALEX BEN BLOCK



Fuse Makes a Crude Attempt at Teenspeak

Those wiseguys at Fuse are at it again. The upstart music network is launching a new programming block for late afternoon, just as its tech-savvy 12- to 17-year-old target viewers arrive home from school. It features elements on the TV screen, online and via cellphone, such as the new offering "Video IQ," in which selected images from music videos become clues to solve a puzzle. Other interactive shows are "Dedicate Live" and "Daily Download." Fuse calls the block After School Special, or A.S.S., and is running ads that declare "Our A.S.S. is jam-packed with music." Is that vulgarity really necessary? Yes, insisted Mary Corigliano, Fuse's VP of marketing: "We have prided ourselves on really owning that prankster chic, irreverent sensibility and really understanding and knowing how to talk to our audience and knowing about what they want to hear and what they're going to gravitate to."

-JON LAFAYETTE



Self-Service TV

Call it mail-order TV production. Troika Design Group-which has branded more than 20 television networks-has come up with some creative ideas, but nothing quite like its strategy for its foray into producing, Fine Living series "Around the World in 80 Homes." The half-hour show features tours of vacation homes around the world, though Troika never leaves Hollywood. Instead, it sends digital camera kits out to the locations directly, with the homeowners shooting the footage themselves. During post-production, the producers pan, scan, zoom and rotate the images to tell stories. Mark Bohman, Troika's creative director and co-founder, said Fine Living came up with the show idea but wanted a way to produce it economically. "With a standard technique and production company you would have to say we have to feature less properties," said Mr. Bohman, who doubled to 20 the number of camera kits sent out for the second season. "This way we were able to break down those barriers and provide ... a tremendous spectrum of locations."

-MELISSA GREGO