Cable Notes

Sep 10, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Court TV seeks overturn of ban
Court TV has gone to court seeking to overturn the ban on televising state trials in New York. The cable network’s complaint, filed Sept 5 in New York state’s Supreme Court, seeks to have Section 52 of the New York Civil Rights Law, which bars cameras in state trial courts and was enacted in 1952, declared unconstitutional.
The suit was filed for Court TV by the firm of Boies, Schiller & Flexner, whose founding partner, David Boies, will be familiar to trial watchers from his representation of then-Vice President Al Gore in Florida’s 2000 presidential election imbroglio. Mr. Boies told Electronic Media that he would have preferred a television camera in the U.S. Supreme Court hearing that led to a resolution of the election.
At a press conference announcing the suit, Mr. Boies said the New York ban, one of only 10 state bans left in the country, dated to the dawn of the TV medium, when large cameras and hot lights could be seen as disruptive forces in the courtroom. But that day is long since past, Mr. Boies said, and now unobtrusive cameras using available light are arguably the least disruptive of any reporting medium. “The only justification for keeping cameras out of the courtroom no longer applies,” Mr. Boies said.
The defendants in the suit, in addition to the state of New York itself, are those state officials charged with enforcing Section 52. They are the governor, state attorney general and district attorney of the county of New York.
The suit was a last resort, taken because the state legislature had not acted on multiple outside recommendations to lift the ban, said Henry Schleiff, president of Court TV. “We believe this is the first time any media organization has sued a state for the sole purpose of ending a per se statutory ban against cameras in courts,” he said.
Mr. Boies was asked by Electronic Media if he would petition the judge hearing the Court TV lawsuit to open that trial to Court TV’s cameras. “Whether you ought to have television of the trial deciding if there should be television of the trial? Probably the judge will wait to decide that issue until he decides the constitutionality of Section 52,” Mr. Boies said.
`Lost’ found on Travel Channel
“Lost,” NBC’s newest adventure-game/reality series, is joining the short list of this fall’s premiering broadcast series getting a “repurposed” second window on a cable network. Starting Friday, Sept. 14, the Travel Channel will air first-run “Lost” episodes nine days after their broadcast network debuts. The series, which premiered Wednesday, Sept. 5 on NBC, will air weekly for six weeks on the cable channel. The Travel Channel has the rights to air subsequent episodes after the first six if NBC renews the series.
Switch thrown on NBC Connect
NBC has formed NBC Connect, a new division that will focus exclusively on cross-platform sales and marketing initiatives. The division will be headed by Jay Linden, who has been named executive VP, NBC Connect. Mr. Linden will report to Randy Falco, president of the NBC Television Network. Until it became a separate, formal entity, the NBC Connect division had been a unit within the NBC sales and marketing division, and it is credited with other recent cross-platform deals with Paramount Studios, Kmart, Target and Nestle Carnation.
One other recent series of Connect division deals was for “Lost,” NBC’s new adventure-game/reality series.
NBC properties that may be deployed for future cross-platform deals include the NBC Television Network, NBC’s 13 owned-and-operated television stations, NBC.com, MSNBC and MSNBC.com, CNBC and CNBC Europe, the NBC Experience store and NBC Enterprises.
Klensch finds a berth on Trio
Fashion journalist Elsa Klensch, best known for her long-running “Style With Elsa Klensch” on CNN, is returning to the world of the runway with six one-hour fashion specials for Trio, the digital popular arts channel from USA Networks’ USA Cable division. Her “Trio World Fashion Tour,” produced for Trio by Videofashion News, will feature collections for Spring/Summer 2002 from top designers showing in New York, London, Milan and Paris. The weekly limited series debuts Sept. 16 and is set to run for six consecutive Sundays.