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Jun 27, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Telemundo confirms plans to acquire KXTX

As reported Monday in ELECTRONIC MEDIA, Telemundo will acquire Dallas independent station KXTX-TV from Tom Hicks’ Southwest Sports Television, with the deal closing at the end of the year. This will give Telemundo 10 full-power stations and will also give the network a station in an important market with a large Hispanic demographic. It will allow Telemundo to go head to head with rival Univision, which now has a duopoly there.

Although no price has been announced, sources say the acquisition cost Telemundo about $65 million. KXTX has long been a strong independent station in the market.

Sherman-Palladino signs development deal: Amy Sherman-Palladino, creator and executive producer of the critically acclaimed “Gilmore Girls” dramedy on The WB, has signed an exclusive three-year production and development deal with Warner Bros. Television. A spokeswoman for the studio would not disclose terms.

Ms. Sherman-Palladino, who wrote the “Gilmore Girls” pilot and most of the episodes this season, has seen her stock rise among show runners in Hollywood.The new deal locks her in to executive-produce “Gilmore Girls” for the next three seasons.

Originally airing in one of the toughest time periods on television, 8 to 9 p.m. Thursdays, “Gilmore Girls” was one of the sleeper hits of the past season, enjoying praise from TV critics and parent-family advocacy groups alike. As the first series to get script development seed funding from the advertiser-backed Family Friendly Programming Forum, “Gilmore Girls” has been one of The WB’s pet projects, with the network giving it a promotion to the 8 p.m. Tuesday slot next season in place of the vacating “Buffy, The Vampire Slayer,” which is moving to UPN in September.

“Gilmore Girls,” voted in EM’s Winter 2000 critics poll as the fourth-best series on TV (EM, Jan. 1, 2001), revolves around a 32-year-old single mother (played by Lauren Graham) raising her 16-year-old daughter (Alexis Bledel) in the quirky, picturesque town of Star’s Hollow, Conn.

Ms. Sherman-Palladino worked as an executive producer on NBC’s former “Veronica’s Closet” from 1998-99. She also created the short-lived Fox comedy “Love and Marriage” during the 1996-97 season and held a staff writing gig on “Roseanne” (ABC) from 1990-94.

Ms. Sherman-Palladino’s deal was handled by talent manager Gavin Polone, whose Hofflund/Polone production banner is a co-producer of “Gilmore Girls.”

Fili-Krushel moves into executive ranks at AOL TW: AOL Time Warner has named Patricia Fili-Krushel executive vice president of administration effective July 30. The former ABC Television Network president has been CEO of WebMD Health since leaving ABC in April 2000. She becomes the highest-ranked female executive at the world’s largest media company, where she will work with senior management and operating divisions on a variety of organizational, developmental and diversity issues.

Ms. Fili-Krushel will report to co-Chief Operating Officer Richard Parsons. Her appointment is a homecoming of sorts. Before joining ABC in 1993, she worked at Lifetime and Time Warner’s Home Box Office.

Downturn shown in this year’s upfront market: Merrill Lynch analyst Jessica Reif Cohen says the broadcast network upfront market is completed except for Viacom’s CBS, with NBC, ABC and Fox agreeing to price concessions. She estimatesthat NBC is down 6 percent to 7 percent year to year in costs per thousand, ABC is down 7 percent to 8 percent, and Fox is down about 2 percent. CBS is flat from last year, or up about 1 percent.

Ms. Cohen estimates that overall upfront dollar volume will decline as much as 14 percent to $6.9 billion this year. She believes Fox and CBS have withheld more inventory in hopes of a healthier scatter market, selling out only about 65 percent to 75 percent of their upfront ad inventory. ABC and NBC’s sellout ratios are “modestly below last year,” she said. The broadcast network upfront also has weakened cable upfront CPMs for Disney, AOL Time Warner and Viacom, except for those cable networks that dominated last season’s ratings. Ms. Cohen also expects weak national network pricing to have a negative impact on television’s and radio’s national spot markets.

FCC tosses televised nudity complaint: FCC Commissioner Gloria Tristani blasted the agency Wednesday for tossing out a complaint alleging that a morning news item on Fox-owned WTXF-TV in Philadelphia featured full frontal male and female nudity. The complaint said the images were broadcast at about 8:53 a.m. on Jan. 23, well within the 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. zone when indecent broadcasts are forbidden by Federal Communications Commission regulations.

But according to Ms. Tristani, the FCC’s enforcement bureau dismissed the complaint without even bothering to check with the station because the upset viewer had not provided the agency with a tape, a transcript or significant excerpts of the allegedly offensive programming.

“People do not normally tape or transcribe the programs they are watching or listening to, and thus it is unfair to expect people [to] file such material with their complaints,” Ms. Tristani said. “The indecency complaint process, as presently configured, tilts sharply in favor of broadcasters and against members of the public. The bureau’s action — or inaction — in this case will further embolden broadcasters to ignore the FCC’s rules against indecent broadcasting and, in so doing, encourage them to air material that is harmful to children.”

The allegedly offensive programming appears to have consisted of a brief shot of naked people in a feature story on a nude Olympics contest in Australia. Said Roger LaMay, WTXF vice president and general manager, “We are unaware of any complaint. It’s certainly not our policy to show frontal nudity.”

Tauzin holding off on ownership hearings: Rep. Billy Tauzin, _R-La., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is not planning any hearings on broadcast ownership, even though the Senate Commerce Committee, headed by Sen. Fritz Hollings, D-S.C., will tackle the subject next month.

Sen. Hollings wants to maintain existing ownership regulations, but Rep. Tauzin is open to relaxing some of them. “If I feel at any point that we need to put some balance into the examination of the issue, we’d obviously want to have a hearing or two. We haven’t made a decision yet,” Rep. Tauzin said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the congressman told reporters that during a meeting with Sen. Hollings last week, the senator promised to hold hearings on the Louisiana congressman’s controversial broadband legislation. Sen. Hollings is opposed to the bill, which loosens restrictions on the Baby Bells’ provision of high-speed Internet access to make the phone giants more competitive with cable broadband.

‘Spy TV’ wins key Tuesday night demo for NBC: NBC’s decision to offer a second weekly run of new reality hit “Spy TV” proved to be a wise move Tuesday night, with the half-hour “Candid Camera”-like show winning the 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (ET) time slot in the key adults 18 to 49 demographic. “Spy TV’s” 3.9 rating/14 share in adults 18 to 49 marked 65 percent improvement over what struggling summer replacement comedy “Go Fish” averaged in the time slot last week (2.3/9), according to Nielsen Media Research fast national data. “Spy TV” beat the first half-hour of ABC’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (2.3/9) by a 65 percent margin.

The improved Tuesday score comes on the heels of “Spy TV’s” 8:30 p.m. Thursday premiere on June 21, when its 6.6/21 score in adults 18 to 49 made it the highest rated entertainment program during the week of June 18. However, Tuesday’s latest score in adult 18 to 49 lags about 42 percent behind last Thursday’s performance. Late last week, NBC decided to offer a second weekly run of “Spy TV” on Tuesdays — in addition to its regular Thursday airing — through this summer.

‘Survivor’ producers suffer setback in court: In somewhat of a setback to the producers of “Survivor” and CBS in their countersuit against former contestant Stacey Stillman, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ralph Dau th
rew out breach of contract and confidentiality claims against her. Judge Dau did not rule on Ms. Stillman’s original suit against Survivor Entertainment Group and CBS, which alleges the inaugural summer 2000 run of “Survivor” was rigged. The judge ruled that a contract should not be a means of preventing someone from making a claim of impropriety.

Ms. Stillman claims in her lawsuit that SEG and executive producer Mark Burnett persuaded other contestants to vote her out of the game in favor of older contestant Rudy Boesch, who ended up a finalist in the 13-week TV competition. Ms. Stillman’s lawsuit also alleges breach of contract and unlawful business practices.

Mr. Burnett and CBS deny contestants were influenced in voting her out during the show’s third week.

“I’m elated,” said Ms. Stillman, a San Francisco attorney, in an Associated Press report. “I’m just thrilled that the judge has ruled I can’t be sued for speaking truthfully about illegal activities.”

Judge Dau also said a confidentiality clause in the agreement between Ms. Stillman and the show’s producer wasn’t undermined because she made her comments after the first season of “Survivor” aired. In his ruling, Judge Dau took into account a deposition by “Survivor” contestant Dirk Been, who said Mr. Burnett spoke with him about which players to vote for or against.

Andy White, a lawyer representing SEG told AP that he found the judge’s decision “a mixed bag.” But he praised the judge’s apparent decision to let the defamation action against Ms. Stillman proceed. Ms. Stillman said her own lawsuit is “full steam ahead.”

“Each day we learn something new about fraud,” she said.

(c) Copyright 2001 by Crain Communications