Briefly Noted

Mar 19, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Emmis to cut 120 jobs in consolidation
Emmis Communications will eliminate 120 positions across its 15 television stations. Most of the cuts will occur at the television stations Emmis bought from Lee Enterprises in October, which include outlets in Portland, Ore.; Tucson, Ariz.; Honolulu; Albuquerque, N.M.; and Charleston, W.Va.
Emmis will begin what it calls “central casting,” which will consolidate the stations’ technical operations into regional locations.
Bochco not blue after getting court date
Veteran series producer Steven Bochco is finally getting his day in court April 9, stemming from his long-running lawsuit against 20th Century Fox Television over the back-end license fees and profits for his ABC drama “NYPD Blue.” A Los Angeles Superior Court judge March 14 denied the studio’s motion for a summary judgment and set the jury trial date.
Mr. Bochco’s suit alleges that TV rights for “NYPD Blue”-which he co-created with David Milch-were sold to Fox’s cable network FX at fees substantially below fair-market value. His suit claims the series was sold for about $400,000 per episode when its alleged market value was at least $700,000 per episode-more on par with similar major cable sales of “ER” ($800,000 per episode to TNT) and “The X-Files” ($600,000 an episode to FX). Last week, Warner Bros.’ “The West Wing” went for a record $1.2 million per episode to Bravo.
At 200 episodes, Mr. Bochco claims “NYPD Blue” should add up to $140 million in total back-end value, leading him to seek $60 million in damages to recoup the alleged lost revenue.
Tech TV expands live programming
Paul Allen’s Tech TV is going live. The technology-themed cable network is expanding its original live TV plans and will run 91/2 hours of live daily programming starting April 2. The move expands the network’s original 41/2-hour commitment announced last year.
Tech TV is also launching a live half-hour technology newscast called “Tech Live” that will run daily at 9 p.m. (ET) and repeat at midnight and 3 a.m. “Tech Live” will be produced at Tech TV’s new digital TV studio based in its San Francisco headquarters.
Tech TV officials said its full-time live format is designed to brand the network as TV’s technology news outlet.
BET taps force of virtual reality
Bob Johnson’s Black Entertainment Television and George Lucas’ “Star Wars” will soon have something in common: virtual reality software.
BET is relaunching its national daily news show “BET News With Ed Gordon” with a completely virtual news set that employs the same software used for the theatrical releases of Mr. Lucas’ 1998 film “Star Wars: Episode One-The Phantom Menace.”
BET’s virtual set will run in real time to depict historical news events and high-profile guests. It also will save BET money.
O’Reilly becomes Fox’s $24 million man
The cable news world has a new salary king. Fox News has signed Bill O’Reilly to a new six-year contract reportedly worth a minimum of $24 million to continue hosting Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor.” The deal includes hefty incentive bonuses as well as components that propose to capitalize on Mr. O’Reilly’s popularity, with the option for a radio show, a series of prime-time specials on the Fox Broadcasting network and appearances on “Fox News Sunday.”
If Mr. O’Reilly meets all his performance bonuses, he’s set to rake in more than Larry King, CNN’s $7 million-a-year standard bearer, who is now being regularly eclipsed in the ratings by Mr. O’Reilly.
FCC closer to cutting channels 52-59 loose
The Federal Communications Commission launched proceedings Friday to reallocate TV channels 52-59 for wireless radio services. Under current law, the FCC is supposed to auction off the rights to those channels in 2002, but broadcasters can keep broadcasting on them until after the transition to digital is complete.
In recognition of the fact that nobody seems to think the transition will be completed anytime soon, the Bush administration recently proposed postponing the auctions. On a separate front, the FCC launched a rulemaking aimed at clearing the way for broadcasters to use digital equipment for electronic news gathering and studio-to-transmitter links.