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Briefly Noted

Jul 23, 2001  •  Post A Comment

‘Shipmates’ secures clearances
Columbia TriStar TV Distribution has announced clearances for relationship strip “Shipmates” for a fall start in broadcast syndication on TV stations across the country, including outlets in 19 of the top 20 markets and 90 percent of the country. CBS-owned KCBS-TV, Los Angeles, has picked up the show and will schedule a double run from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., premiering Aug. 27. Other stations that have picked up the show include WPWR-TV, Chicago, WPHL-TV, Philadelphia, WKBD-TV, Detroit, KTVK-TV, Phoenix, and WKCF-TV, Orlando, Fla.
Fox details ‘Nathan’ repurposing plan
Fox has officially laid out to its affiliates board plans to share “Nathan’s Choice,” an interactive comedy scheduled for midseason, with sister channel FX. “Nathan,” created by Chuck Lorre and produced by Warner Bros. Television, stars J.D. Walsh as the titular Nathan, who is fresh out of college and unsure about which choices to make.
Fox affiliates board Chairman Cullie Tarleton, vice president of television and cable for Bahakel Communications, sounded positive after the brief conference call with Fox distribution chief Bob Quicksilver. “It’s not full repurposing. Only half the show is being repurposed,” said Mr. Tarleton, half-joking about the plans to let Fox viewers vote midway through each half-hour episode on how they want the story to turn out.
Still to be decided is whether voting would be part of “Nathan” reruns or whether the Fox and FX endings might simply flip-flop on repeat.
Also scheduled for repurposing on FX are Fox’s “Pasadena” and “24.” The affiliates will get additional inventory with the soap and the thriller in exchange for being amenable to the repeats.
OMD USA places bets on new fall shows
In its preview of the 2001-02 prime-time season, OMD USA gives CBS’s “The Education of Max Bickford,” Fox’s “Undeclared,” The WB’s “Maybe It’s Me” and UPN’s “Star Trek: Enterprise” the best odds among 35 new shows for fall. CBS and NBC had three shows each that earned a “low” rating for various reasons, including time slot, competition and, in a couple of cases, “poor press.” The OMD USA report said shows facing long odds at CBS are “The Ellen Show,” “Wolf Lake” and “Danny” (formerly “American Wreck”). At NBC the odds are against “UC: Undercover,” “Inside Schwartz” and “Emeril.” Also earning “low” expectations: ABC’s “Bob Patterson,” The WB’s “Elimidate Deluxe” and Fox’s “The Tick.”
WWF swallows its next wrestling rival
After buying archrival World Championship Wrestling, the World Wrestling Federation is near a deal to buy the assets of the bankrupt Extreme Championship Wrestling. ECW’s parent company, HHG Corp, is being offered $250,000 for the assets of its competition, including the company’s video library, according to sources. In addition, the WWF would agree to pay $50,000 for the use of ECW trademarks that have been aired during the last two weeks on WWF programming.
Street voices digital cable, ad concerns
Wall Street is voicing major concern about the slowdown in deployment of digital cable modems and the continued decline in advertiser spending. Scientific-Atlanta triggered some of the negative and cautious reports from analysts Friday, with its weakened fiscal fourth-quarter results reflecting moderating digital set-top-box demand. On the ad front, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter analyst Richard Bilotti said Friday, “TV advertising is getting worse, not better,” citing AOL Time Warner’s lower-than-expected second-quarter revenues. He is prepared to reduce 2002 earnings estimates for ad-dependent media companies by 5 percent to 10 percent if the ad market does not improve.
More funding approved for FCC
The Senate last week approved $252.5 million in fiscal year 2002 funding for the Federal Communications Commission, $4 million above the agency’s budget request. But lawmakers stated in a massive funding bill passed by the chamber that they’re concerned about “declining standards of broadcast television and the impact this decline is having on America’s children.” They directed the FCC to continue to report to Congress on the possibility of resurrecting the broadcast industry code of conduct.
Sorenson moves up at MSNBC
Erik Sorenson has been promoted to president and general manager of MSNBC, from vice president and general manager. He will continue to oversee the development, programming, staffing and operation of the 5-year-old Secaucus, N.J.-based 24-hour cable-news network.