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Apr 23, 2002  •  Post A Comment

FCC to auction over-the-air multichannel licenses

The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday announced that it will use auctions to award licenses for a new service that offers multichannel video and broadband Internet over the air. Northpoint Technology, which wants to offer the terrestrial service on the same frequencies as direct broadcast satellite — opposed the auction and previously said it would appeal such a decision in federal court.

Under the new FCC rules, DBS operators are free to bid for the channels everywhere, but cable operators won’t be permitted to operate the new services in areas where they own cable systems.

In the past, DBS operators have complained that the terrestrial service would cause interference. And in an effort to circumvent an auction, Northpoint had asked the FCC to consider it an international satellite service and award it two DBS orbital slots.

Lopez to cover entertainment for NBC stations: Lynda Lopez has been hired by the NBC Television Stations Division. Ms. Lopez, who is actress-singer Jennifer Lopez’s sister, will be assigned to the entertainment beat and will file for the NBC-owned stations, sister Telemundo stations and the NBC cable networks. She’ll be based at WNBC-TV in New York. Ms. Lopez, an alumna of VH1 and most recently the entertainment reporter for WPIX-TV’s “WB11 Morning News,” will continue hosting “Glow” on E! Entertainment’s Style network and filing entertainment reports for Clear Channel-owned WKTU-FM in New York.

‘Bachelor’ scores best-ever 18 to 49 ratings: ABC’s midseason reality/romance series, “The Bachelor,” continued on its upward trajectory, reaching its best-ever ratings in adults 18 to 49 on Monday night-its fifth and next to last airing. With the series set for a final bow this Thursday (with an 8 p.m. ET “The Women Tell All” reunion special followed by the 9 p.m. finale), the first day of the May sweeps, viewer interest appears to be spiking by just over 30 percent since “The Bachelor’s” debut on March 25.

“The Bachelor” won the 9 p.m. hour last night at a 5.6 rating/14 share average among adults 18 to 49, beating CBS’s repeat of “Everybody Loves Raymond” (5.0/12 vs. 4.8/12) and a first-run “Becker” (6.1/15 vs. 3.7/9) in each half-hour frame, according to Nielsen Media Research fast national data. NBC’s “Third Watch” came in second for the hour in adults 18 to 49 (4.3/10), just edging out CBS’s comedies (4.2/10). Fox’s “Ally McBeal,” canceled officially last week, came in fourth at a 3.5/9 average.

“Bachelor’s” second half-hour grew by a healthy 22 percent clip. The show also came in second to CBS in households (8.6/13 vs. 9.1/14) and in total viewers (13.0 million vs. 13.7 million), the latter of which marks 32 percent growth since its debut (9.8 million).

Applications for “The Bachelor II” are already being fielded by ABC and series producers Telepictures Productions (a division of AOL Time Warner) and Next Entertainment. with production slated to begin in July for an anticipated fall 2002 run (ending in December 2002) on the network.

MGM says it won’t be sold: Soft-pedaling talk of its being sold or merged with another entity, MGM Chairman and CEO Alex Yemenidjian labeled the speculation about his company as “malicious rumors,” even though MGM is still seeking vertical integration, scale and diversified revenues streams. “There are a couple of things we like, but it’s too soon to tell,” he said.

Still, MGM highlighted intensifying ties with NBC, including the recent launch of a full-service media sales organization to manage all barter sales for both companies’ off network series in first-run syndication. They also have a new joint production and distribution agreement for the new “She Spies,” the first four episodes of which will air on the NBC TV Network this summer before premiering in a new syndicated slot this fall on the NBC- and Hearst Argyle-owned stations.

MGM also hinted at advancing its Rainbow partnership. MGM’s television division posted a lower $4.4 million loss on $25 million in revenues, compared to $6.3 million in earnings on $37 million in revenues.

Roberts is ‘GMA’ news anchor: It’s official: Robin Roberts is the new “Good Morning America” news anchor. She’ll also continue to report for other ABC News programs, to substitute for “GMA” hosts Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer and to contribute to ESPN, where she’s worked since 1990. Ms. Roberts, who has been increasingly dedicated to “GMA” since last year, succeeds Antonio Mora, who moved to Chicago earlier this year to anchor newscasts at CBS-owned WBBM-TV.

HBO leads all flacks in TV hype department: Not only has HBO become a force on the creative programming front, its public relations spinmeisters are winning more awards than their broadcast network counterparts. The Television Publicists Entertainment Committee announced its 2001 TPEC Award winners for oustanding publicity, with HBO’s media relations department taking the most honors (three awards) in eight categories.

The list of winners, announced by Sharan Magnuson, chairman of TPEC, follows:

Publicity campaign for a returning prime time network TV series: “Malcom in the Middle” (Fox) — Jill Hudson, Fox Broadcasting Co., and Eric Breen, Baker Winoker and Ryder.

Publicity campaign for a returning prime time cable TV series: “Sex and the City” (HBO) — HBO Media Relations.

Publicity campaign for a new prime time network TV series: “Gilmore Girls” (The WB) — Pamela Morrison, The WB, and Carrie Schwab, Warner Bros. Television.

Publicity campaign for a new prime-time cable TV series: “Six Feet Under” (HBO) — HBO Media Relations.

Publicity campaign for a prime-time network movie or miniseries: “Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows” (ABC) — Melissa Tettalman and Annie Fort, ABC Entertainment.

Publicity campaign for a prime-time cable TV movie or miniseries: “61*” (HBO) — HBO Media Relations.

Publicity campaign for a syndicated series: “Live With Regis and Kelly” — Buena Vista Television.

Publicity campaign for a prime-time network, cable or syndicated special: “The 73rd Annual Academy Awards” (ABC) — Dan Doran and Suzanne Gordon, ABC Entertainment.

Lawsuits against NBC will go forward: A U.S. District Court judge in New York has refused to dismiss lawsuits filed by five employees who claim they suffered racial and sexual harassment during their years as employees of NBC. The suits, filed two years ago, seek more than $200 million in damages.

NBC must defend itself against claims of bias and retaliation, but not against some other charges made by the plaintiffs, the judge ruled Monday in a 129-page opinion, according to Bloomberg News.

An NBC spokesman said, “NBC is pleased that the court dismissed the majority of the claims in these lawsuits. These allegations are not true, and we are fully prepared to rebut the remaining charges at trial. NBC always takes claims of this kind very seriously. We thoroughly investigated these charges when they were first brought to our attention and determined that they were without merit.”

Former NBC exec John Rohrbeck dies at 62: Memorials for former NBC executive John Rohrbeck will be held in Los Angeles and New York. Mr. Rohrbeck, who was 62, died April 20 at the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital in L.A. During some three decades with the network, he had run key stations, including KNBC-TV and WNBC-TV, but he became best known as the head of the network-owned stations division in the 1980s and ’90s.

The West Coast memorial is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday, April 26, at Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica. Details are still to come on a May 10 service to be held at New York’s Riverside Memorial Chapel.

(c) Copyright 2002 by Crain Communications