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Apr 11, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Posted Thursday, April 11, at 10:55 a.m. (PT); last updated at 4:45 p.m.

FCC approves NBC’s KNTV purchase

The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday gave its approval of NBC’s purchase of KNTV-TV in San Jose, Calif. The Peacock Network agreed to acquire the station from Granite Broadcast for $230 million late last year on the eve of KNTV supplanting Young Broadcasting’s KRON-TV as the NBC affiliate in the San Francisco market. That will raise the count of network-owned NBC stations to 14, plus the 11 Spanish-language stations that will come to NBC as part of the Telemundo purchase that also was approved by the FCC this week.

MSNBC re-brands as ‘America’s News Channel’: Struggling MSNBC on Thursday nicknamed itself “America’s News Channel” and wrapped its Peacock “bug” in a flag in a re-branding campaign aimed at selling the cellar-dwelling cable channel as “something uniquely American and fiercely independent.”

In a two-page e-mail to MSNBC staffers, MSNBC President Erik Sorenson’s offered thoughts that ranged from doomsday predictions (“It’s hard to imagine America won’t be struck again sometime, somewhere”) to troop-rallying (“A new name for a new day and a new time”).

In between, Mr. Sorenson, who is bringing old-fashioned liberal Phil Donahue out of retirement to host a prime-time talk show this summer, slung mud at his competitors, Fox News Channel and CNN, for whom MSNBC has been rendered a nonfactor by its low ratings.

“Some news channels seem partisan, favoring one side over another (regardless of slogans or protestations to the contrary.),” Mr. Sorenson wrote. “Some cut deals with foreign governments or foreign broadcasters so as to provide coverage on an international basis to foreign viewers [an allusion to CNN]. Others stack the deck with partisans from one side and offset them with patsies from the other [an allusion to Fox News]. But our channel is not partisan and has no agenda other than to serve the American people, serve our viewers — give them in-depth coverage and thorough analysis. Yours truly (and our management team) has no agenda, other than to inform. We don’t take orders from anyone. We’re independent in our journalism and our op-ed programming.”

“Is this the same editorial independence they showed when they didn’t break into Olympics coverage to report on the death of Daniel Pearl?” said a CNN spokesman, referring to February, when NBC’s Winter Olympics took precedence over the fate of the Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and murdered.

“MSNBC is irrelevant,” said a spokesman for Fox News Channel, which has reigned as the most-watched news channel for two consecutive quarters and which has billed itself as “The network America trusts for fair and balanced news” since shortly after Sept. 11.

Mr. Sorenson’s e-mail said the best opportunities for MSNBC to set itself apart are “in the lulls between major stories. In the wake of 9/11, and with the world in a new state of chaos, cable news viewers are demanding information and ideas between crises.”

Still to come, said Mr. Sorenson, is the naming of an editor in chief — expected by many to be former New York Post editor and former “Politically Incorrect” executive producer Jerry Nachman. “This person will be critical in ensuring our uniquely American approach and our wildly independent style in the weeks and months ahead.”

As for the mechanics of rebranding MSNBC, Mr. Sorenson said Val Nicholas — the MSNBC vice president of advertising, promotion and marketing who hired former Twisted Sister front man Dee Snider as the voice of MSNBC last winter — would continue to be in charge of the effort.

“Branding is accomplished through our look, our music and even our programming,” said Mr. Sorenson.

Metro Traffic copter makes emergency landing in Dallas: A Metro Traffic helicopter in Dallas lost power around 8 a.m. this morning and made a “hard landing” in a residential area an intersection in North Dallas, according to a Associated Press item on Dallas’ CBS-owned KTVT-TV’s Web site and a report on rival NBC-owned KXAS-TV’s Web site. The item was also reported by ABC affiliate WFAA-TV, Dallas.

Starlene Stringer, who does traffic reports for KTVT, was treated for back injuries at a local hospital and was listed in good condition. The pilot and two others traffic reporters escaped without injury. No cars were involved due to light traffic and there was no smoke or fire. The chopper’s rudder did break off and was found about 50 feet from the crash site. The Federal Aviation Administration and the Dallas Air Authority were on the scene Thursday to determine why the engine failed.

Mediaedge:cia names execs in worldwide services group: The WPP Group’s Mediaedge:cia, recently formed by the merger of The Media Edge, originally part of Young and Rubicam, and CIA, formerly part of Tempus Group, has named senior executives to its Worldwide Client Services & Solutions Group, which will provide a dedicated service to global, international and regional clients.

Andrew McLean will become the Solutions Group’s chief client officer, and and Ron de Pear will be managing director. Mr. McLean joined The Media Edge 21/2 years ago from the Walt Disney Corp., and Mr. de Pear joined CIA a year and a half ago from MindShare.

Mr. McLean will be based in the New York, and Mr. de Pear will be based in London. In addition, there will be dedicated regional centers in Dusseldorf, Germany; Paris; Milan, Italy; Stockholm, Sweden; Miami; Singapore; and Hong Kong.

Mediaedge:cia maintains 186 offices in 80 countries and has billings of $16 billion, according to a company statement.

Starcom acquires J.C. Dolan & Assoc.: Starcom MediaVest Group has acquired St. Louis-based J.C. Dolan & Associates and Bologna, Italy-based Compass International, two lifestyle and event marketing companies, which will be rolled into its Relay Sports and Event Marketing, the unit Starcom positioned as an independent company just four months ago.

The two companies will now operate under the Relay banner under the direction of CEO Wally Hayward. John Dolan, former owner and president of both Dolan and Compass has been appointed chief operating officer of Relay, effective immediately.

Relay’s combined client list includes Allstate, Anheuser-Busch, the U.S. Army, Better Homes & Gardens, Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, Hallmark, LEGO, McDonald’s, MSN.IT, Nike, Nintendo and Ralston Purina. Relay will have combined annual billings of $29.5 million, according to a company statement.

CBS, Meredith sign long-term affiliation agreement with WFSB: CBS and Meredith Corp. have signed a new long-term affiliation agreement for WFSB-TV, Hartford, Conn.

WHDH’s Price signs as anchor for five more years: NBC affiliate WHDH-TV, Boston, anchor Randy Price has signed a new five year contract to co-anchor the 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts at the station.

WRAZ-TV to air Bulls baseball games on digital channel: Fox affiliate WRAZ-TV, Raleigh-Durham, N.C., will air 36 Durham Bulls baseball games live this season on its digital channel WRAZ-DT. WRAZ is a sister station to CBS affiliate WRAL-TV, Raleigh, which has been a lead in HDTV on a local level. “Multicasting allows us to provide our regularly schedule programming while at the same time providing coverage of Triple A baseball to loyal Triangle-area Bulls fans,” said WRAZ General Manager Tommy Schenck.

CBS Newspath adding medical segments: CBS Newspath is adding thrice-weekly health and medical segments to the material it offers to CBS affiliates starting Monday. The reports will feature three medical correspondents working for the CBS-owned station group: WCBS-TV’s Dr. Mike Rosen on Mondays, WBZ-TV’s Dr. Mallika Marshall on Wednesdays and WFOR-TV’s Dr. Sean Kenniff (best known for being an original “Survivor”) on Fridays.

‘Trial by Fire’ slated for 2003 launch: NBC Enterprises and Court TV will co-produce “Trial by Fire,” a one-hour syndicated strip targeted for a 2003 launch. The series will be hosted by Court TV anchor Nancy Grace. “Trial,” to be distributed by NBC Enterprises Domestic Syndication, will be taped in front of a
studio audience and will employ Court TV library footage to revisit famous cases.

Toussaint joins ‘Crossing Jordan’ cast: Lorraine Toussaint, who starred in the Lifetime cable drama “Any Day Now,” is joining the cast of NBC’s freshman drama “Crossing Jordan” next season. Ms. Toussaint will star on the highly rated 10 p.m.-to-11 p.m. (ET) Monday drama as an aggressive coroner whose modus operandi causes friction among her fellow workers, especially fellow medical examiner Jordan Cavanaugh (played by Jill Hennessy).

Previously, Ms. Toussaint has starred as Rene Jackson, a prominent lawyer, opposite Annie Potts in “Any Day Now,” which started on Lifetime in 1998 and has finished first-run production for its finale this season. A native of Trinidad, Ms. Toussaint first broke into television in 1983 and has been a series regular in “Leaving L.A.,” “Amazing Grace,” “Where I Live” and “Bodies of Evidence.” She has also appeared in a number of miniseries and feature films.

Tim Kring (NBC’s “Providence”) is the executive producer and creator of “Crossing Jordan” from Tailwind Productions in association with NBC Studios.

(c) Copyright 2002 by Crain Communications