Breaking News Archives

Dec 7, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Must-carry obligations ruled constitutional

In a win for broadcasters Friday, a federal appeals court upheld the constitutionality of must-carry obligations for satellite television companies. According to Federal Communications Commission rules, satellite providers must carry all local signals in a market if they decide to carry one of those signals. The satellite industry, including EchoStar and DirecTV, challenged those requirements in a federal court in Richmond, Va., insisting they violate their First Amendment rights. The dish TV companies want to offer a handful of local signals in many markets, not every signal in fewer markets. But the court said the rules, which take effect on Jan. 1, 2002, are “content neutral” and impose only “incidental burdens on speech.”

CNN lays off 30: The cancellation of four CNN series — daytime series “Burden of Proof” and “News Site,” and weekend series “Travel Now” and “Show Biz This Week” — has resulted in the “departure” of approximately 30 staffers from the all-news network, most prominently among them Roger Cossack, who hosted “Burden,” and Joie Chen, who anchored “News Site.” In a memo to CNN staffers Sid Bedingfield, executive vp and general manager of CNN/U.S., announced the departures and said that “final touches” were being made to a “new programming and staffing schedule,” which will be announced in the near future.

ABC, CBS split cost of war videotape: ABC News and CBS News, which have recently been exploring ways they might share costs of newsgathering, put up $40,000 each for fascinating video in which CIA agent Mike Spann, who would die just hours later, interrogated John Walker, the Californian who had joined the Taliban militia.

The two networks purchased the video, which is thought to have been taken by a Northern Alliance operative, for $80,000 from a French free-lance photographer after negotiations that went until nearly dawn Friday. The tape appeared in the second half-hour of ABC’s “Good Morning America” and in the first half-hour on CBS’s “The Early Show.”

Though the deal had been that neither network would label the tape “exclusive,” that word might not have made its way to the “Early Show” control room, because it was labeled “exclusive” on CBS, which reportedly apologized to ABC News and promised not to do it again.

There had been a round of blind bidding in which NBC News reportedly offered $25,000. Fox News knew the tape was available but declined to bid, said a spokesman. CNN reportedly dropped out of the bidding as it became apparent that the asking price was too high for the all-news network. The previous weekend, CNN had carried free-lancer Scott Pelton’s encounter – a first for Aemrican TV — with Mr. Walker, who was discovered among the Taliban survivors of the riots at Kala Jangi, where Mr. Spann lost his life.

Scripps Networks relying on scatter market this year: Scripps Networks booked about 50 percent of its 2002 inventory during the recent upfront, down from about 60 percent in 2001, and so will be more reliant on the scatter market in the first three quarters of 2002 than they were last year. That’s the word from a Credit Suisse First Boston Media Week presentation by E.W. Scripps Co. senior management.

Scripps Networks include Home & Garden Television, Food Network, the Do It Yourself Network and Fine Living (set to launch in March). Operating losses related to the launch and development of Fine Living and DIY will be about $35 million next year, up $15 million from 2001, according to the presentation.

Media execs, government officials meet on patriotism plan: Hollywood executives and lobbyists met with Bush administration officials at the White House Thursday to continue their discussions on how Tinseltown can aid the war effort. After a briefing about the war on terrorism, they shared their plans for public service announcements on television and radio here and abroad emphasizing patriotism, the nation’s tolerance of other faiths and support for U.S. troops. Patriotic movie trailers are also in the works. A source said the Hollywood group, headed by Motion Picture Association of America President and CEO Jack Valenti, has no further meetings planned with White House officials. But the executives will meet once more before the holidays and every two to three weeks after that.

Recording Bart Simpson an American pastime: “The Simpsons” is the series from all of TV history that viewers would most like to record, according to a survey conducted for Microsoft’s UltimateTV personal-video-recorder service, which also found respondents expressing high levels of Homer Simpson-like dissatisfaction with the difficulties involved in using their VCRs and with how networks currently schedule their favorite programs.

Almost 56 percent of the 1,020 respondents, for example, “complained that the VCR didn’t tape the show they wanted to see,” while “nearly 80 percent of respondents agreed that they sometimes lose track of a favorite TV show when it gets moved to a new day or time” — results almost guaranteed to bring a glad “whoo-hoo” to PVR purveyors this holiday season. The rest of the recordable top five in the survey: “M*A*S*H,” “Seinfeld,” “ER” and “I Love Lucy.”

CTV signs up for Associated Press video service: CTV, Canada’s largest private broadcaster, has signed on to take the Associated Press’s video service. The multiyear deal includes breaking-news video and a daily regional newsfeed to CTV’s national newscast, as well to CTV Newsnet, Canada’s 24-hour cable headline news channel, and to CTV-owned stations in Toronto (CFTO-TV), Montreal (CFCF-TV), Vancouver (CIVT-TV), Edmonton (CFRN-TV), Calgary (CFCN-TV) and Halifax (CJCH-TV).

CTV is owned by Bell Globemedia, a Toronto-based multimedia company with $1.25 billion in revenues that also owns The Globe and Mail newspaper. The AP’s video arm, APTN, maintains 83 bureaus in 67 countries and provides video news footage to stations and to broadcast and cable networks. APTN program clients range from Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” to PBS’s “The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer.”

(c) Copyright 2001 by Crain Communications