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Briefly Noted

May 28, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Trio readies relaunch
Trio, the “emerging” digital cable arts network owned by USA Networks, is relaunching June 10 with a new look and an ambitious plan for commissioning specials and original series programs, all aimed at cornering the “popular arts” audience. Trio’s promotional push is dependent on its original programming-10 original specials this year and up to 26 in 2002. Specials will include “Walk Through,” featuring tours of private art collections, and “Art and Outrage,” a documentary about such controversial artists as Robert Mapplethorpe. Also coming to Trio will be the network premiere of “Elizabeth”; all 70 hours of “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,” which has not been seen in its entirety since 1973; and a 10-hour Labor Day marathon of music from the New Orleans Jazz Festival. USA Cable plans to offer USA Network and Sci-Fi Channel advertisers that fit the Trio demographic exclusive sponsorships on Trio programming of the “Texaco Theater strategy,” said Patrick Vien, president, emerging networks, USA Cable.
Vivendi to buy MP3.com
Vivendi Universal will acquire San Diego-based online music distribution technology provider MP3.com for $372 million in cash and stock. The deal is structured as a reorganization that will be tax-free to MP3.com shareholders to the extent that they receive Vivendi Universal shares. The acquisition represents a key piece of the puzzle for Duet, Vivendi Universal’s joint venture with Sony Music to create an online digital music subscription service. Duet is expected to launch this summer through a number of distribution alliances, the first being with Yahoo!
Marcus to head Williams newscast
The circle of show-runner changes at NBC News was completed last week with the announcement that Bret Marcus is the new executive producer of MSNBC’s “The News With Brian Williams.” Mr. Marcus, who since 2000 had been executive producer of CNBC prime-time programming, makes the switch immediately, succeeding Steve Capus, who this week became executive producer of “NBC Nightly News” as part of the shift that made Jonathan Wald executive producer of “Today.”
Powell pushes to up FCC funding
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell told a House appropriations panel last week that the agency needs an 8 percent increase in annual funding so it can hire more engineers and prevent the ones it has from being lured into the private sector by lucrative salaries. The FCC is seeking $248.5 million in fiscal 2002, $18.5 million more than its fiscal 2001 appropriation. Committee Chairman Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., said the Bush administration has asked all nondefense agencies to be capped at a 4 percent increase, but he seemed to understand Mr. Powell’s concerns.
Donovan new MSTV president
The Association for Maximum Service Television in Washington last week named David Donovan as its new president. Mr. Donovan, 47, is currently vice president, legal and legislative affairs, for the Association of Local Television Stations. At MSTV he will succeed Margita White, who is retiring. Mr. Donovan’s successor at ALTV is Robert Branson, who is currently vice president and chief legal counsel for Post-Newsweek Stations.
Alternative to Tauzin-Dingell has hearing
The House Judiciary Committee last week held a hearing on legislation offered by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., and Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, that’s an alternative to the so-called Tauzin-Dingell bill, which deregulates the Bell phone companies so they can compete head-to-head with cable in the broadband business. The alternative measures deregulate the Bells if they open their markets to competition. Panel Chairman Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Ill., said he’ll soon hold a hearing on the Tauzin-Dingell bill as well.
Northpoint may have to bid for spectrum
Northpoint Technology has been trading accusations with direct broadcast satellite providers about its planned wireless video and Internet service possibly causing interference with DBS customers and may have to bid on the spectrum it hopes to use. Northpoint may face spectrum auctions if other entities vie for the same frequencies. Northpoint says it should not be subject to auctions.
A&E creates integrated marketing unit
In yet another sign that this is the year of integration in advertising and marketing, A&E Television Networks has announced the creation of a new integrated marketing department to be led by Bruce Thomas, a veteran industry executive with Internet, broadband, cable and broadcast experience. The new department is charged with cross-platform sales for the four A&E networks-A&E, The History Channel, The Biography Channel and History International.