Briefly Noted

Dec 3, 2001  •  Post A Comment

NAB against EchoStar-DirecTV merger
The National Association of Broadcasters last week announced its opposition to EchoStar’s proposed $26 billion acquisition of DirecTV. NAB also said Mike Fiorile, president of Dispatch Broadcast Group, will testify against the merger on NAB’s behalf at hearings before the House telecommunications subcommittee on Dec. 4. “This merger would create the world’s largest monopoly video delivery system,” said NAB President and CEO Eddie Fritts. “The burden is on EchoStar to explain how America will benefit from the combining of the only two satellite companies that compete with cable.”
House sets hearing on satellite, cable competition
The House subcommittee on telecommunications and the Internet, headed by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., will hold a Dec. 4 hearing on competition in the video programming industry, focusing mainly on the recently proposed merger of EchoStar and DirecTV. The hearing also will examine program access and possibly broadcast and cable ownership issues. Among the invited witnesses are EchoStar Chairman Charlie Ergen; DirecTV Chairman Eddy Hartenstein; National Cable & Telecommunications Association President and CEO Robert Sachs and National Association of Broadcasters head Eddie Fritts.
`A Region in Conflict’ gets regular MSNBC slot
“A Region in Conflict” has been given a long-term lease on the 9 p.m.-to-10 p.m. (ET) time slot on MSNBC, and anchor Ashleigh Banfield has been given a regular contributor, Dr. Bob Arnot, who has been named special foreign correspondent for MSNBC. “Region” evolved from Sept. 11, and since its Oct. 2 debut has originated from various fronts in the war on terrorism. Ms. Banfield, accompanied by producer John Zito, is originating live from Kabul, Afghanistan, these days. Coordinating it all back home in Secaucus, N.J., is senior producer Meghan Schaefer. Dr. Arnot is expected to be on the ground at the scene of an international hotspot next week. His new beat means he might be reporting on crises related to the war on terrorism or the spread of AIDS through Africa.
Murdoch’s News Corp. share less than Malone’s
Rupert Murdoch’s failed bid for Hughes Electronics’ DirecTV has cost him his place as the largest single shareholder of News Corp. The change came last week as a result of News Corp. issuing more than 115 million preferred nonvoting shares to John Malone’s Liberty Media Corp. in exchange for Liberty’s remaining 4 percent stake in Gemstar-TV Guide International, boosting News’ Gemstar stake to 43 percent from 39 percent. As a result, Liberty now has nearly an 18 percent stake in News Corp., though it holds mostly nonvoting shares. Mr. Murdoch, who has a 16.25 percent stake in his company, retains control of News Corp., since his stake accounts for about 30 percent of its voting shares.
Stewart named CFO of Crown Media U.S.
Brian Stewart has been named chief financial officer for Crown Media United States, which operates Hallmark Channel U.S. Mr. Stewart will be based in Hallmark Channel’s Los Angeles headquarters and will have oversight responsibilities for all financial, administrative and management information systems. Formerly, Mr. Stewart served as VP of finance for Crown Media Holdings, managing all aspects of financial planning, analysis and reporting and conducted strategic and financial analysis of new business opportunities. Mr. Stewart will report to Lana Corbi, president and CEO of Crown Media U.S.
Studios USA signs `Law & Order’s’ Schindel
Studios USA has signed Barry Schindel, the show runner, executive producer and head writer of NBC’s “Law & Order,” to a multiyear drama development deal. Mr. Schindel joined the writing staff of “Law & Order” in 1999 as a producer. He was named executive producer in his second season on “Law & Order,” which is produced by Dick Wolf Films and Studios USA. Before joining “Law & Order,” Mr. Schindel was a senior trial attorney in the criminal defense division of the Legal Aid Society in New York City.
Short takes
ABC has nailed down the nonpay TV rights to the current movie blockbuster “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and its sequel, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” due out next year. The films will be telecast first over ABC with subsequent runs on ABC Family and the Disney Channel. … Fox has made full-season orders for “24” and “The Bernie Mac Show” … ABC has cancelled the Friday-night action drama “Thieves,” starring John Stamos, after eight episodes. … Kim Williams has been named senior VP and chief financial officer of NBC West Coast and is relocating from New York, where she has been VP and CFO for NBC Business Development.