Briefly Noted

Aug 13, 2001  •  Post A Comment

FCC approves Tribune duopoly
The Federal Communications Commission has approved Tribune Broadcasting’s acquisition of UPN affiliate WTXX-TV in Waterbury, Conn., a station it had been operating under a management agreement. Tribune also owns Fox affiliate WTIC-TV in Hartford, Conn., which is in the same market. Under the FCC’s new duopoly criteria, the combination would not normally have been permitted because there are not at least eight other stations remaining in the market. But the FCC gave Tribune a waiver under an exception that permits combinations that will keep failing stations on the air. The FCC also gave Tribune six months to come into compliance with the rule that bars broadcasters from buying daily newspapers in their service areas. That’s an issue because Tribune acquired The Hartford Courant when it bought the Times Mirror Co. last year. Tribune had requested two years.
New anchor team at KNBC
Chris Schauble has been named co-anchor of the weekend morning newscasts on KNBC-TV, Los Angeles. Mr. Schauble joined KNBC in June from CBS-owned KCNC-TV, Denver. Mr. Schauble will co-anchor with Nerissa Witherspoon, who was hired by KNBC earlier this year. They may be the first African American pairing for a morning newscast in the market.
`Mutant X’ can move forward, court rules
One of the most anticipated new syndicated action TV shows for the fall season will be able to move forward, thanks to a ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The court threw out a lawsuit last week in which 20th Century Fox claimed the new show, Tribune’s “Mutant X,” is a copycat of 20th Century Fox’s box office hit feature “X-Men.”
General Motors is cable’s top spender
General Motors was the top spender on national cable-network advertising in the 2000-01 season, according to data just released by the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau. General Motors spent almost $170 million on network cable, according to CAB’s analysis of Competitive Media Reporting data. AOL Time Warner was in second place with $169 million, followed by Procter & Gamble ($161 million), Philip Morris ($143 million) and AT&T ($116 million). For these top five advertisers, cable spending was up 12.7 percent from the previous year.
Noggin adds to fall lineup
Noggin, the educational network from Nickelodeon and Sesame Workshop, will add new interactive programming for kids to its lineup beginning Sept. 10. Additions to the Noggin schedule include “SPONK!” an improvisational comedy game show that will air Mondays at 9:30 p.m. (ET); “Chattervision,” which will air Mondays at 10 p.m.; “The URL With Phred Show,” which will air weekdays at 7 p.m.; and “Little Bear,” a half-hour animated children’s series that will air regularly weekdays at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Disney makes digital-TV tech investment
The Walt Disney Co. has invested in NxtWave Communications, a Langhorne, Pa.-based company working on technical improvements for the United States’ Advanced Television Systems Committee digital TV standard. In a statement, Preston Padden, Disney executive vice president for government relations, said NxtWave’s technology could help alleviate existing DTV transmission problems. Matt Miller, NxtWave president and CEO, said, “The Walt Disney Co. has helped sharpen our focus on critical issues for broadcasters and consumers.” Disney declined to disclose the size or nature of the investment.
EchoStar bids $32 billion for DirecTV
Littleton, Colo.-based EchoStar Communications Corp., the second-biggest player in the North American direct-broadcast-satellite business, made its long-expected second bid for El Segundo, Calif.-based DirecTV, offering more than $32 billion in stock for the Hughes Electronics Corp. unit of General Motors. The EchoStar bid came against the backdrop of an existing offer, currently under active consideration by the GM board, for DirecTV from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
Cox and SeaChange developing digital cable ads
A partnership between cable operator Cox Communications and cable video server vendor SeaChange International is surging ahead with a digital cable ad intiative. Now that CableLabs, a cable industry research and development organization, has completed trials of two digital cable standards, DVS-253 and DVS-380, Cox and SeaChange are preparing to implement their targeted ad technology this month on Cox’s Phoenix cable systems. Digital ads will be featured on ESPNews, an ESPN cable network available only to digital subscribers.