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Jun 13, 2001  •  Post A Comment

News Director Mark Berryhill leaving KRON-TV

Just seven months after joining Young Broadcasting-owned NBC affiliate KRON-TV, San Francisco, News Director Mark Berryhill is leaving the station. He was hired to lead KRON’s newsroom into a new era; the station will become independent in January 2002. KRON Assistant News Director Stacy Owen has been promoted to news director.

Mr. Berryhill will stay on through July in an advisory role. Previously, he was news director at NBC affiliate WHDH-TV, Boston.

Coincidentally, late last week, WHDH’s news director, Nancy Nydam, left abruptly, due to what was called “a difference in philosophy” between Ms. Nydam and WHDH management. Mr. Berryhill has said he is moving back to New England for personal reasons.

‘Street Smarts’ a go for fall: The last major piece of the syndication puzzle was answeredfell into place Wednesday as Telepictures Distribution declared late-night game show strip “Street Smarts” a firm go for the fall.

The freshman series has now been renewed for a second season on 140 stations representing more than 90 percent of the country. It had been considered on the fence for a pickup earlier in the year but has pulled well in key younger demos. The show had been expected in recent weeks to return for a sophomore go-round.

NCTA elects officers: The National Cable & Telecommunications Association board on Wednesday elected Michael Willner, president of Insight Communications, as the new NCTA chairman. Elected as NCTA vice chairman was Jerald Kent, president and CEO of Charter Communications. John Rigas, chairman of Adelphia Communications, was elected board secretary, while Comcast Corp. President Brian Roberts was tapped to be the association’s treasurer.

Tauzin-Dingell bill may be headed to House floor: The controversial Tauzin-Dingell broadband bill suffered a potential setback Wednesday when the House Judiciary Committee, which had limited jurisdiction over it, reported it “unfavorably” on a voice vote. That means the panel doesn’t like the bill and recommends it not be approved, said Jeff Lungren, a spokesman for committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner Jr., R-Wis. But supporters claimed victory.

Co-sponsor Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., said Judiciary’s action helped put the bill “on the fast track to the House floor” and delivered a “body blow” to cable giant AT&T. The bill has already passed the House Energy & Commerce Committee by a narrow margin. It now moves to House Rules, which will decide what happens next. Co-sponsor Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., wants the House to vote on the measure in the next few weeks.

In related action, Judiciary approved an amendment by Rep. Sensenbrenner that essentially guts the bill. The amendment maintains restrictions on Bell phone company provision of high-speed Internet access that Tauzin-Dingell would eliminate. And it puts the U.S. Justice Department in charge of overseeing the Bells’ Internet operations — Tauzin-Dingell removes the Federal Communications Commission from that role. The amendment also clarifies that a recent court case, Goldwasser vs. Ameritech, should not be interpreted as meaning that antitrust law no longer applies to telecommunications. Some observers have concluded just that from the decision.

Tauzin spokesman Ken Johnson said Judiciary’s actions are a victory for the legislation. “We are very confident that the Sensenbrenner amendment will not stand parliamentary muster,” he said, adding that he expects it to be stripped out by House Rules. Meanwhile, the committee defeated bills offered by Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., and Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, designed as alternatives to Tauzin-Dingell. Those bills required the Bells to open their local phone markets to competition before being allowed to build out Internet infrastructure nationwide and compete head-to-head with cable broadband.

‘Millionaire’ makes a switch: Weeks after announcing that it would run regular “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” episodes on Mondays in the fall, with stunt-style and celebrity-stocked episodes on Thursdays, ABC has told affiliates that the stunt episodes will switch to Mondays and regular episodes will air on Thursdays. ABC Entertainment Television Group Co-Chairman Stu Bloomberg unveiled that change in plans Monday at the first of five regional affiliate meetings that will conclude Friday in Los Angeles. “Monday Night Football” has inspired the plan to launch the new themed “Millionaire” with an all-athletes installment.

KXAS-TV to aid flood victims: NBC-owned KXAS-TV, Dallas, launched an emergency relief effort to help victims of the recent Texas floods. KXAS will partner with Home Depot and Tom Thumb/Simon David stores in a local campaign that will run through June 19. Viewers can donate money or items to the program and the goods will be given to flood victims.

XETV rakes in Emmys: Fox affiliate XETV, San Diego, was awarded 17 local Emmys out of 49 nominations. “It is a spectacular feat and an outstanding demonstration of the professionalism, talent and dedication that exists within our organization,” said XETV General Manager Joanie O’Laughlin.

NAB approves marketing campaign: The National Association of Broadcasters board on Wednesday approved a “multimillion dollar” campaign to market and promote digital TV, at least partly with on-air spots. “There’s a lot of confusion about what DTV is,” the source said. “The ultimate goal is to encourage people to buy new DTV sets and move the transition forward.” In other business, the NAB elected David Kennedy, president and chief operating officer of Susquehanna Radio, as the association’s joint board chairman. Paul Karpowicz, vice president of LIN Television, was elected TV board chairman.

AOL TW not shopping for another network: AOL Time Warner CEO Gerald Levin said Tuesday that his company is not considering buying a second broadcast network such as NBC.

Asked by CNN’s Larry King in an interview at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association convention in Chicago whether AOL Time Warner, which already owns The WB, would be interested in buying another broadcast network, Mr. Levin said, “I don’t think so. I would say no.”

Aside from the obvious regulatory obstacles, he said, “Network television is looking for another revenue stream. You can’t exist in this modern era with a single revenue stream.”

He also said that CNN wouldn’t merge with a news division of a broadcast network like ABC or CBS. However, Mr. Levin said he would be open to a mutual sharing of talent and infrastructure with a broadcast news division, with the qualifier that the CNN and Time news-gathering organizations are “sacrosanct.”

Given the cutbacks at news divisions of the major broadcast networks and CNN’s large network of bureaus, Mr. Levin said, “It’s not surprising that broadcast networks [especially those without a 24-hour news channel] would be interested in the news-gathering infrastructure of CNN.”

After detailing for the crowd how the AOL Time Warner merger came about, Mr. Levin insisted, “AOL did not buy Time Warner. It was what’s called a merger.”

He said the factor that best decides who controls a merged company is the makeup of the board of directors. “If one party gets more board seats, they are in control,” Mr. Levin said. “[Ours is] a 50-50 board.”

Mr. Levin said that “It was a lot easier for accounting purposes” to have AOL as the purchasing agent. He said he was the person who named the company AOL Time Warner, which was partly because he wanted AOL to be the company’s stock symbol, and more simply because it just sounded the best.

Kellner holding firm on ad prices: The upfront, if not yet off and running, is at least under way. That’s the word from Jamie Kellner, chairman and CEO of Turner Broadcasting, who told ELECTRONIC MEDIA at Cable 2001, the NCTA convention in Chicago, that he has been doing a “few deals here and there,” with more soon to come. He did not go into specifics.

Contrary to expectations, there has been no discounting, he suggested. “If the advertisers are being straight with you, there’s more concern now than there was a week ago,” he s
aid, adding that the networks have not broken ranks but are holding firm on prices despite agency pressures.

Kids’ WB assembles original Saturday morning lineup: Kids’ WB, the top-rated kids broadcast network for the past two seasons, is gearing up with an “all-original” Saturday morning summer programming lineup, including originals of anime-adventure series “Cardcaptors,” which returns for a second season beginning June 23 (8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. ET, 7:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. PT).

“Cardcaptors” debuted on Kids’ WB’s Saturday morning lineup at 9:30 a.m. earlier this season, finishing as one of the top 10 broadcasts among kids 2 to 11 (3.2 rating/12 share), kids 6 to 11 (3.9/14), boys 2 to 11 (4.2/15) and girls 6 to 11 (2.7/10).

In a further effort to capture out-of-school kid viewers during their summer break, a two-part series finale of “Men in Black: The Series” will air June 23 and 30 (11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. ET /10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. PT).

The following is the Kids’ WB’s updated Saturday morning summer lineup:

8 a.m. “Pokemon”

8:30 a.m. “Cardcaptors” (second season premiere)

9 a.m. “Jackie Chan Adventures”

9:30 a.m. “X-Men: Evolution”

10 a.m. “Pokemon”

10:30 a.m. “The Zeta Project”

11 a.m. “Men in Black: The Series”

11:30 a.m. “Max Steel”

Scanlon’s run at NBC not over yet: Hold the gold watch. Ed Scanlon isn’t retiring from NBC just yet. The word that Mr. Scanlon, who was named executive vice president of NBC in June 2000, is not leaving his post at the end of June after all came just two days after The New York Times memorialized the seldom boring Mr. Scanlon as the network’s “consigliere” and “Mr. Fixer.” In more than 15 years as head of human relations for the network, he had negotiated deals with everyone from Katie Couric and Dick Ebersol to Andy Richter and for labor unions. During his earlier years at RCA, he locked up the Elvis Presley song catalog for $5 million and later negotiated RCA’s merger into NBC.

The reason for stopping the retirement clock: The move of GE veteran Susan Peters, who had come to the network as executive vice president of human relations in June 2000, to GE headquarters as vice president of executive development.

Mr. Scanlon will “postpone his retirement temporarily and step back into his former role,” said NBC Chairman Bob Wright in an internal memo to the staff Wednesday.

There was no word on who might succeed Ms. Peters or when.

Bondy to join CNN: NBC’s “Weekend Today” Executive Producer Kim Bondy has been released from her contract so that she can accept a vice presidency at CNN in Atlanta, where she will report to Sid Bedingfield, the executive vice president and general manager who is in charge of CNN’s programming, production and domestic operations. Ms. Bondy, who had executive-produced “Sunrise” for NBC News before assuming control of “Weekend Today” in mid-1999, planned to tell her NBC News staff Wednesday afternoon that she was making the move to Atlanta.

Ms. Bondy’s last day at NBC is June 23.

MSNBC adds ‘The News’ broadcasts: Starting July 9, MSNBC is going to run “The News With Brian Williams” at 8 p.m. (ET) with repeats at 10 p.m. and midnight in addition to the show’s usual time slots on sister channel CNBC at 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. The hope, said an MSNBC spokesman, is by having the initial broadcast flow out of live news-driven programming — instead of breaking for prepackaged “Headliners & Legends”-style programs — there will be more momentum for “The News.”

Moreover, the new time slots mean that on the West Coast, “The News” will run at 5 p.m. and will become a national alternative to local newscasts. It’s also hoped that the five nightly telecasts of “The News,” which in May had a gross average viewership of 869,000, can grow if there is some space between the MSNBC and CNBC time slots.

CBS News promotes VPs: Three CBS News vice presidents have been promoted to senior vice presidents. The boosts for Marcy McGinnis (news coverage), John Frazee (news services) and Betsy West (prime time) take effect immediately.

(c) Copyright 2001 by Crain Communications