Briefly Noted

Aug 27, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Affiliate in programming beef with ABC
ABC affiliate KEZI-TV in Eugene, Ore., told the Federal Communications Commission that ABC is frustrating the best interests of the station’s viewers by refusing to allow it to start the network’s prime time an hour earlier to accommodate a 10 p.m. local news broadcast. KEZI also said ABC objected when the station attempted to shift network programming to air University of Oregon sports programming and a special on power shortages. In a recent filing at the FCC, ABC charged that many affiliate pre-emptions are motivated by a station’s financial concerns. But in KEZI’s case, according to the station’s filing at the FCC, it’s ABC that is putting its financial interests above the interests of Eugene’s TV audience. “ABC’s only interest is in compelling us to show its national programs when ABC wants them shown-not when local viewers in our market want to watch them,” the station said. At deadline, a spokesman for the network had no comment.
Pearson TV getting a makeover
Domestic and international distributor Pearson Television is changing its name to FremantleMedia, following a merger with CLT-UFA to form the RTL Group last year. Sources say some “philosophical” shakeups may follow, based on personnel issues or on the direction of future productions. All divisions of Pearson Television will be rebranded, encompassing Worldwide Production, Pearson Television North America and Pearson Television International and Enterprises. FremantleMedia’s senior management team worked closely with leading brand consultants Lambie-Nairn to develop the name. The FremantleMedia brand will debut at October’s MIPCOM and shortly afterward will be integrated within all of Pearson’s TV series, including the upcoming strip “Card Sharks.”
Rodriguez named president of Univision Networks
Ray Rodriguez, who has been president of Univision Network since 1992, was 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 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.
Hallmark Channel gains 7 million subscribers
The newly rebranded and relaunched Hallmark Channel’s carriage will jump by 7 million to about 40 million subscribers as part of a deal between Hallmark’s corporate parent Crown Media Holdings and direct-broadcast-satellite service DirecTV. Hallmark will pick up the additional subscribers when DirecTV repositions the channel on its Total Choice basic tier. That move is expected by the end of September. Under the “strategic relationship” deal, DirecTV will acquire stock representing 4.7 percent of Crown’s equity.
AOL Time Warner cuts 1,700 staff
AOL Time Warner last week confirmed the elimination of 1,700 positions, 500 of which will come from its Sun-Netscape alliance. The mostly Internet-related job cuts will result in a third-quarter charge of between $100 million and $125 million, the company said. A reorganization of its online unit will “more tightly integrate” Web properties and multiple online brands. For instance, a new AOL Interactive Services Group will result in the consolidation and streamlining of existing units.
A new AOL Web Properties Group will consolidate such brands as Moviefone, Instant Messenger, MapQuest, Netscape and CompuServe. It is the third round of major layoffs since the $106 billion merger of AOL and Time Warner in January, when the company cut 2,400 positions across the board. It eliminated another 3,000 positions by closing its Warner Bros. stores. Analysts expecting these latest job cuts said the company will make more through year-end to achieve its ambitious financial 2001 targets of $11 billion in earnings and $40 billion in revenues.
KWTV partners on Web with paper
CBS affiliate KWTV, Oklahoma City, has created a new Web site, NewsOK.com, in a partnership with the Daily Oklahoman newspaper. “It is part of our convergence project with the paper,” said KWTV spokesman Jeff Solari. There will be shared stories in every newscast and every edition of the paper.