Briefly Noted

Jun 18, 2001  •  Post A Comment

The toughest assignment
Witnessing the execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh is one assignment longtime Oklahoma City anchor Linda Cavanaugh will never forget. Ms. Cavanaugh, the main anchor for NBC affiliate KFOR-TV, was chosen by lottery and was the only local TV journalist from the locale of the bombing permitted to watch the June 11 execution in Terre Haute, Ind.
Ms. Cavanaugh, who with nine other members of the media observed the execution from behind a glass partition, told Electronic Media, “It was disturbing to watch a man die, and it was bizarre, also, because there was never one moment when you could say that’s when he died. After the first drug, he stared up at the ceiling, and he didn’t change until the warden said, `The execution is over.’ His eyes were still open.”
At the point the warden said the execution would proceed, Ms. Cavanaugh said her heart started pounding. Afterward, when she looked at her notes, her writing became illegible at that moment. “I didn’t think it would affect me,” she said. ”Usually I’m able to separate the emotion from the reality of what’s happened because you’re so busy just doing your job. But this was more difficult.”
Talkin’ about `Millionaire,’ `Link,’ `Pyramid’
Negotiations with the top-market stations groups for the 2002 syndication runs of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” “Weakest Link” and “$100,000 Pyramid” are said to be entering critical, closing stages. Among the three shows, Buena Vista Television’s “Millionaire” is said be the “most aggressively priced,” with the game show hit reportedly setting floor prices approaching the six-figure-per-week range in New York and Los Angeles, according to station group and station rep sources.
In testing the waters, one group programming executive who had seen “Millionaire’s” presentation, said its “exploratory pricing” may be on par with that of prime access time periods. “Millionaire” could still be “too rich” considering the dearth of available early fringe or daytime time periods among the network O&O groups, said a station rep source, who added that the CBS Television Stations Group may provide the only strong early fringe opportunities for the hit ABC game show.
A potential sale of “Millionaire” to the ABC O&Os is considered highly doubtful given that its access/fringe time periods are contractually bound to King World’s “Wheel of Fortune,” “Jeopardy!” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show” for the next several seasons.
Meanwhile, NBC Enterprises’ “Weakest Link” has held presentations, but station reps feel that the NBC O&O group will try to carve out a half-hour in early fringe or mornings. However, sources at CBS say the group could also be in the running for “Link” as well, especially in New York, possibly teaming it in a game show block with “Millionaire.” Interestingly, hosts for “Link” and “Millionaire” have yet to be formalized.
Also, Columbia TriStar’s $100,000 Pyramid” (hosted by Donny Osmond) has held major-market group presentations and is considered another strong contender-especially in light of how pricing shakes out for “Millionaire” and “Link.” Warner Bros.’ “Let’s Make A Deal” has yet to hold major market presentations.
`Justice’ clears Fox O&Os
Twentieth Television’s “Texas Justice” has cleared all the Fox owned-and-operated stations, including WNYW-TV in New York and KTTV in Los Angeles, as well as the nine stations involved in the regional test earlier this year: Dallas’ KDFW-TV, Atlanta’s WAGA-TV, Tampa, Fla.’s WTVT-TV, Houston’s KRIV-TV, Birmingham, Ala.’s WBRC-TV, Memphis, Tenn.’s WHBQ-TV, Phoenix’s KSAZ-TV, Austin, Texas’ KTBC-TV and Greensboro, N.C.’s WGHP-TV. Stations from the Cox, Acme, Belo, Raycom and Capitol groups also have signed on to the show.
Banff prizes to four Americans
American producers and broadcasters were the recipients of four Rockie Awards last week at the 2001 Banff Television Festival in Alberta, Canada. The international competition awarded the Rockie for best sports program to “Greener Grass-Cuba, Baseball and the United States” (Thirteen-WNET/Bright Pictures and Mosaic Films), and the U.S.-France co-production “Napoleon” (David Grubin Productions in association with PBS/Docstar/Devillier Donegan Enterprises) was named best history and biography program. HBO’s “The Sopranos” won its second consecutive Rockie for best continuing series, and the telefilm “Bash-Latterday Plays” (Steven Pevner Inc.) picked up a special jury award. The French documentary “La Terre des Ames Errantes” (The Land of Wandering Souls) (La Sept ARTE/INA) was the big winner, garnering the $50,000 Global Television grand prize and the Rockie for best social and political documentary.
Hearing set on rock-bottom political ad rates
The House subcommittee on telecommunications and the Internet has scheduled a June 20 hearing on provisions in pending campaign finance reform legislation that require broadcasters to offer politicians TV ad time at rock-bottom rates. Campaign finance legislation containing such provisions has already passed the Senate and counterpart legislation is being taken up in the House. Panel chairman Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., supports reforming the campaign finance laws but has concerns about the impact of the advertising provisions on broadcasters, an aide said.