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Briefly Noted

Mar 11, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Sen. Hollings takes Chairman Powell to task
Senate Commerce panel Chairman Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., scolded Federal Communications Commission head Michael Powell at a hearing last Thursday, accusing him of ignoring Congress, sidestepping agency rules and failing to regulate in the public interest.
The senator’s grievances mostly related to actions Mr. Powell took in matters involving broadband and wireless phone communications. Sen. Hollings even suggested mockingly that Mr. Powell might be happier as a chamber of commerce official. Despite the tough talk, the senator said he’ll approve the FCC’s request for $278 million in fiscal year 2003 funding, a nearly 10 percent increase over 2002.
CNN, MSNBC looking at Koppel
CNN is eyeing ABC’s Ted Koppel for its own newsbeat. The Atlanta-based all-news network’s Chairman Walter Isaacson would “love to talk” to Koppel about coming aboard, according to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, CNN’s hometown newspaper
Mr. Koppel is in play, of course, due to ABC’s very public courtship of CBS’s David Letterman. The Alphabet Network has made it clear that it is ready to cast Mr. Koppel’s journalistically well-regarded “Nightline” aside to make room for the late-night host. MSNBC also has made overtures toward Mr. Koppel, according to the report, while Fox News Channel says it is not interested in making a bid.
FCC to vote on cable broadband protection
The Federal Communications Commission next week is slated to vote on controversial staff proposal recommending that the agency define cable’s broadband Internet service in a way key observers say should ensure that cable won’t have to open its broadband networks to competing Internet access providers. Nonetheless, sources said the FCC staff also is urging the commissioners to launch new proceedings to further consider the implications of the definition.
Here come the Japanese hamsters
Cartoon Network, Turner Broadcasting’s all-animation network, has acquired 52 episodes of “Hamtaro,” a Japanese anime program that started a craze for pet hamsters among kids in Japan. “Hamtaro” will premiere in July. The show, based on a series of children’s storybooks, is aimed at the preschoolers who made “Pokemon” a sensation. Despite the general economic downturn in TV, Cartoon saw “double-digit increases in ad sales” in 2001, said Jim Samples, the network’s executive VP and general manager, at a Manhattan press conference. Cartoon also expects to spend in excess of $500 million for original production, much of it created in-house, in the next five years, Mr. Samples said.
The network has also given new programming commitments to “Whatever Happened to Robot Jones?” a six-episode order premiering in July about a middle schooler who just happens to be a robot, and “Codename: Kids Next Door,” a 13-episode order debuting in November that won last year’s contest in which viewers picked the pilot to go to series.
Twentieth’s `Good Day Live’ going national
After much speculation in recent weeks, Twentieth Television finally made it official last week: “Good Day Live” is set to go national. The syndicator will now complete what was once a slow rollout by entering the national marketplace, with some stations potentially airing the strip as soon as this summer. The distributor earlier announced that seven markets, including Washington, would air the show beginning March 18, joining the core six stations that launched the show last December.
“Increased interest from the marketplace and a strong need for something original indicated to us that the time was right to offer the show up to stations and audiences across the country,” said Bob Cook, president and chief operating officer of Twentieth Television.
NBC puts arena football on its roster
Despite its experience with the World Wrestling Federation’s short-lived attempt at made-for-TV football with the XFL, NBC Sports is not giving up on the idea of hothouse football. NBC Sports and the Arena Football League have agreed to become revenue sharing partners in a deal that starts with a two-year commitment beginning with the league’s 2003 season, which will be shifted to start in early February. NBC will televise 15 AFL regular-season games, all the postseason games and the championship game, scheduled for June 22, 2003.
The games will air live on Sunday afternoons with as many as four regional telecasts each Sunday. NBC Sports, which has the option to renew the contract in perpetuity, will share in revenues derived from enhanced value of the AFL franchises, which will number 20, eight of them in top 10 U.S. TV markets, by kickoff day on Sunday, Feb. 2.