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Aug 22, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Rodriguez Named president at Univision Nets

Ray Rodriguez, who has been president of Univision Network since 1992, has been named president and chief operating officer of Univision Networks, which encompasses all network operations at Univision, including Galavision and Univision Sports, as well as the yet-to-launch Telefutura Network, to be aimed at younger Hispanic-speaking demos, and ratings-dominant Univision Network itself.

Mr. Rodriguez will continue to be based in Miami and will continue to report to A. Jerrold Perenchio, chairman and CEO of Univision Communications. The general manager of Galavision, Lucia Ballas-Traynor, and the president of Univision Sports, David Downs, will now report to Mr. Rodriguez. Telefutura is set to debut in January of next year.

Microsoft’s UltimateTV lifts curtain on upgrade: Microsoft’s UltimateTV, a personal-video-recording service sold with DirecTV’s satellite television receivers through retail sales outlets, has added a couple of enhancements to its PVR offering. The new features include a “Keep Until” option that lets viewers store programs until they choose to erase them, and a “custom recordings” selection that enables customers to record from a specified beginning to ending time rather than recording entire shows. “These are enhancements that our users asked for,” said Microsoft UltimateTV Vice President of Consumer Products Tim Bucher.

Crier’s role expanded at Court: “Catherine Crier Live,” Court TV’s signature live talk and news program, will expand to five nights a week beginning Sept. 24, and will follow the crime-and-justice network’s newly extended daily trial coverage, which will run from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Ms. Crier, the onetime Texas judge and prosecutor who traded her gavel for an on-air personality’s microphone, also will assume additional responsibilities at the network, becoming executive editor of legal news specials.

“We are delighted that Catherine will be taking a larger role in Court TV’s coverage of legal issues that extend beyond the courtroom and into viewers’ everyday lives,” said Henry Schleiff, Court TV chairman and CEO. Recently, Ms. Crier anchored the network’s extensive coverage of the the Timothy McVeigh execution.

Excite@Home switches auditors in face of economic trouble: Excite@Home stock traded up 25 percent to 50 cents a share today on news it fired auditors Ernst & Young and replaced them with PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Ernst & Young said earlier this week in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that there is “substantial doubt” whether Excite@Home can survive as is. The dismissal was approved by the company’s board of directors and stockholders. Excite@Home’s controlling shareholder is AT&T Corp. In the last quarter, the company reported $1 billion in debt and $346 million in losses. The company faces possible delisting from the NASDAQ because of its stock price and other conditions. Company officials declined comment.

Valeria to host Pax’s “Next Big Star”: Pax TV has named 22-year-old singer Valeria to co-host “Ed McMahon’s Next Big Star.” Valeria will join Ed McMahon on camera and on the road this fall in the all-new variety series premiering Sunday, Sept. 9, at 6 p.m. on Pax. Valeria also will perform live on “Ed McMahon’s Next Big Star,” which begins taping on Saturday, August 25, from the MGM/”Next Big Star” Theatre in Las Vegas.

CBS makes “Baby Bob” official spokesperson: CBS plans to introduce television’s youngest spokesperson this week with Baby Bob, a 7-month-old talking baby making his debut as the official CBS “spokesbaby.” Baby Bob, who will star in his own CBS midseason comedy later this year, will be featured in a series of humorous spots promoting several new and returning series and the NFL on CBS. The spots will air throughout all dayparts including prime time, daytime, late-night and sports.

Ritter signed as Travel Channel show host: John Ritter has signed to host Travel Channel’s “TV Road Trip,” a two-hour special scheduled to premiere April 2002. Mr. Ritter will join stars from some of America’s most popular television series as they visit the cities and sites where their shows were filmed. Mr. Ritter came to national prominence as the star of television’s long-running hit comedy series “Three’s Company,” for which he won an Emmy, a Golden Globe and a People’s Choice Award. His next series, “Hooperman,” earned him Emmy and Golden Globe nominations and his second People’s Choice Award. Mr. Ritter’s last series was “Hearts Afire,” which aired from 1992 to 1995.

Liberate and AT&T partner to develop ITV services: Liberate Technologies and AT&T’s Headend In The Sky have signed a multiyear agreement to develop a suite of low-cost interactive television services for HITS affiliates, the companies said Wednesday. The companies plan to use the Liberate TV Platform Compact software and run on the Motorola DCT-2000. The new services, which will be available in fourth quarter 2001, will allow interactive content to be broadcast over satellite to cable headends and transmitted to cable customers. The initial suite of ITV services, which will include news and information services, enhanced TV and interactive games, will not require a two-way plant or additional billing-system integration.

(c) Copyright 2001 by Crain Communications