Briefly Noted

Mar 25, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Sylvester `Pat’ Weaver dies
Sylvester “Pat” Weaver, a great innovator in the programming and advertising sides of the TV business, died March 15. Mr. Weaver, 93, the father of actress Sigourney Weaver, died of pneumonia at his home in Santa Barbara, Calif., NBC announced Saturday. Mr. Weaver had been ailing for quite some time. Besides Ms. Weaver, he is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, and his son, Trajan.
Mr. Weaver spent his entire career as a TV network executive at NBC, and he was only there seven years. But he was there just as TV was getting its full head of steam. His list of innovations is staggering, from the “Today” show to the “Tonight” show to myriad programs in between, from “Your Show of Shows” to “Wide Wide World.” Furthermore, Mr. Weaver created a revolution on the ad side of the business-it was his idea to have multiple advertisers sponsor a TV show and have the network own the show. Previously, as in radio, advertising agencies owned most of the shows.
Mr. Weaver, a longtime executive on Madison Avenue-mostly at Young & Rubicam, much later at McCann-Erickson-joined NBC in June 1949 and for all intents and purposes was the network’s programming chief until he left in 1956. Along with broadcast visionary General David Sarnoff, whose primary expertise was on the technological side of the business, Mr. Weaver built NBC into a juggernaut.
Free campaign airtime alliance formed
The activist Alliance for Better Campaigns last week announced the formation of a new coalition to lobby for legislation that would require broadcasters to provide free advertising time for political candidates. In a statement, the group said the immediate goal of the coalition-co-chaired by former Sen. Paul Simon, D-Ill., and Thomas Kean, the former GOP governor of New Jersey-will be to sell the public on the concept. “Most Americans don’t realize they own the airwaves,” said Paul Taylor, alliance president. “Once they learn, we believe that public support for free airtime legislation, already strong, will grow even stronger.” The broadcast industry defeated efforts to include free-time obligations in comprehensive campaign reform legislation approved last week.
Comedy Central teams with Tennis Channel
When it comes to affiliate sales and marketing, Comedy Central will be playing doubles with the Tennis Channel. The new all-tennis network, which is scheduled to launch this fall, will employ Comedy Central’s affiliate relations sales force for system-level launch negotiations, fulfillment and coordination and to provide marketing support. In addition, Comedy Central will negotiate affiliation agreements for the channel outside the top 15 distributors.
`Conan’ comes to Comedy Central
NBC’s “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” is getting a second window on cable’s Comedy Central. In a unique programming arrangement, beginning Sept. 3, Comedy Central will air the previous night’s “Conan” episode Monday through Friday in an early-evening time period, beginning at either 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. At midday of that same day it will air the “Conan” episode that played in late-night on NBC two nights earlier.
DTV waiver requests reach 61 percent
Including a count of applications posted by mail, the Federal Communications Commission said last week that 787 commercial TV stations have now asked for waivers from the agency’s obligation to launch DTV operations by May 1. That means that more than 61 percent of the nation’s 1,288 commercial TV stations are citing technical, legal or financial grounds for putting DTV launches on at least temporary hold. Earlier this month, the FCC reported that 650 stations had requested the waivers. But an agency source said that figure did not include a precise count of mail-in applications.
HGTV announces 2002-03 series
Home & Garden Television has unveiled its new series for the 2002-03 season. Scheduled for the fourth quarter are “Public Places Private Spaces,” in which creators of public spaces take viewers inside private homes they’ve designed; “How’s That Work?” (working title), about the evolution and workings of everyday home appliances; “Great American Gardens,” about America’s most beautiful public gardens; and “Great Stuff” (working title), about collectors and their obsessions. Set for the first quarter of 2003 are “Mission: Organization” (working title), about “odd couples” in which one person is disorganized and the other is not, their chaotic homes and what it takes to organize them; “Building Character” (working title), a magazine-style show about the transformation of old buildings into new homes; and “Design on a Dime” (working title), about room and other design makeovers for $1,000 or less. Set for the second quarter of 2003 are “Ground Rules” (working title), a reality game pitting two families against each other as they make over their yards on a budget and under the guidance of a landscape designer; and “Under One Roof” (working title), another home-improvement-project series, this one going room to room on site at a real home.