ABC says it will remain in NAB
ABC today announced it is planning to stay in the National Association of Broadcasters, even though it is now the only one of the Big 4 TV networks still on board. CBS bailed out yesterday, citing NAB opposition to a network campaign to win deregulation that would allow it and other broadcasters to buy more TV stations. NBC and Fox Broadcasting Co. had already dropped their memberships for the same reason.
But in a statement, Preston Padden, The Walt Disney Co. executive vice president for government relations, said ABC has decided not to follow suit. “ABC will remain a member of NAB and work from inside the organization with the twin goals of restoring broadcast industry unity and embracing consistent and principled deregulation of broadcast ownership rules,” he said.
Murdoch: Sky can fly without U.S. unit: A day after his heir apparent Lachlan Murdoch said negotiations for control of DirecTV were proving “extraordinarily difficult,” News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch reiterated the company line that his growing Sky Global Network is viable without a U.S. component that would, after all, address only some
5 percent of the world’s population.
“It’s a bit like asking if the Louvre would exist without the Mona Lisa,” the elder Mr. Murdoch said today at the Satellite Broadcasting & Communications Association’s SkyForum in New York. “We, like the Louvre, have plenty of other treasures to show off.”
Spectrum funds for education: A broad coalition of academics, museum officials, philanthropists and industry executives called on the government today to set aside the estimated $18 billion it expects to reap during the next five years from the auction of public spectrum, including frequencies used now by analog television channels, for educational purposes. The coalition is led by Newton Minow, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and PBS, and Lawrence Grossman, former president of NBC News and PBS. The goal is to create a digital opportunity investment trust that would fund nonprofit educational institutions, museums and libraries to benefit generations of students.
Powell wary about interactive intervention: The Walt Disney Co.’s campaign to win interactive TV regulations from the Federal Communications Commission unearthed a formidable obstacle today when Michael Powell, the agency’s chairman, made clear his skepticism about the need for rules for a service that he says has yet to develop.
Disney has told the FCC that fair-access rules are needed to prevent the cable industry from dominating the emerging ITV business and discriminating against competitors. The cable TV industry has warned that even the threat of regulation would discourage ITV’s rollout.
A&E counterprograms with new biographies: In the “mad frenzy for eyeballs” that is the May sweeps, A&E will be counterprogramming the big events on the broadcast networks with a month of new
biographies, with subjects ranging from Martha Stewart and Rosemary Clooney to Dizzy Gillespie and Sean “Puffy” Combs.
That’s what Allen Sabinson, senior vice president for programming at A&E Network, said. “Truth be told, we didn’t do very well last May,” he added, “and [this May] we want to compete on every night.” So the network will be deploying 26 new editions of its signature “Biography” series to offer an alternative for what Mr. Sabinson calls the “discerning television viewer.”
WB looking for ‘Boundaries’ contestants: The WB Network has started taking contestant applications for “No Boundaries,” a reality/
extreme sports competition series being underwritten by Ford Motor Co.