Briefly Noted

Apr 8, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Fox affils get sales tip at seminars
Fox affiliates across the country will give tips on selling the network lineup-and updates on the network’s 2002-03 lineup-when Fox Broadcasting stages sales seminars in eight cities in June. The three-day blitz will find network distribution chief Robert Quicksilver and other Fox representatives fanning out to Portland, Ore.; Syracuse, N.Y.; and Chicago on Tuesday, June 18; Oakland, Calif.; Charlotte, N.C.; and Cincinnati on June 19; and Jacksonville, Fla., and Dallas on June 20.
`Moments’ taken on Hallmark
Hallmark Channel has added “Life Moments” to its fall 2002 schedule. Each episode of “Moments,” which will be stripped five days a week, will feature three to four segments about memorable events in people’s lives such as weddings and reunions. The series, which will be hosted by former NBC “Later Today” host Asha Blake, is produced by Pie Town Productions in association with Paramount Domestic Television.
FCC says EchoStar’s dual-dish policy is a violation
The Federal Communications Commission ruled last week that EchoStar is violating federal law and agency rules by requiring subscribers to obtain a second satellite dish to view some local television stations carried by the service. The practical effect of EchoStar’s so-called “two-dish” plan is to make some stations unavailable to customers, the agency said. It recommended several ways in which EchoStar can comply with station carriage rules, such as by eliminating the need for a second dish or automatically installing both dishes when customers sign up for local-into-local service. EchoStar considered the approach fair because it offered the second dish for free.
Costas signs new deal with HBO
HBO has become Bob Costas’ primary TV home with the announcement that he has signed a multiyear deal to co-host “Inside the NFL” in addition to continuing “On the Record With Bob Costas,” the interview show in its sophomore year on the premium cable channel. With the two shows, Mr. Costas will appear on HBO 34 weeks out of the year. Mr. Costas also will host as many as four major pay-per-view boxing events, starting with the Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson bout June 8.
HBO will have cable exclusivity on Mr. Costas’ services in a deal said to be worth $2 million a year. Still to be decided is what role Mr. Costas might want to play on a broadcast network. Talks continue at NBC, where he has worked for 22 years, but opportunities are limited, since the network no longer has rights to baseball or, after this season, to the NBA. NBC will broadcast the Olympics in 2004, 2006 and 2008. Since he cannot consider ESPN, which reportedly offered him 65 NBA games next season, some ask whether Mr. Costas might consider an ABC-only deal. ABC Sports will carry 15 regular-season games, a handful of playoff games and the NBA Finals. “We don’t comment on anybody working for another network,” an ABC Sports spokesman said. Mr. Costas’ business manager, Pam Davis, told Electronic Media the hope is that the “network portion” of his career will be defined by mid to late April.
EchoStar wants change in local-station rule
EchoStar Communications asked the U.S. Supreme Court last week to grant direct broadcast satellite companies the right to offer distant network signals to all customers, even if they have access to their local broadcast stations. The company wants the high court to reverse a lower court ruling last year that barred DBS companies from doing just that. The lower court upheld a law that bans dish television companies from offering distant network feeds to customers who can receive local TV stations. EchoStar maintains this is a First Amendment issue and insists Americans should have the right to watch any local stations they choose. The National Association of Broadcasters said EchoStar’s signal plan would threaten localism.
Phil Donahue to host MSNBC talker
Phil Donahue, who defined both the modern talk show and media liberalism for many baby boomers, is coming out of retirement to host a weeknight talk show on MSNBC starting this summer. The struggling cable network will rearrange its lineup to put “The News With Brian Williams” at 7 p.m., Mr. Donahue at 8 p.m., “Hardball With Chris Matthews” at 9 p.m., “Ashleigh Banfield on Location” at 10 p.m. and “Alan Keyes Is Making Sense” at 11 p.m.
USA ready to TV Travel
USA Networks has announced an agreement to acquire U.K.-based TV Travel Group Ltd., which operates three TV Travel Shop Channels, two in Britain and one in Germany, that sell travel and package holidays via television. USA expects to launch a U.S. TV Travel channel in the second half of the year. Current TV Travel Group management is expected to remain in place and to oversee the U.S. launch, according to a USA statement. USA values the acquisition at approximately $100 million in cash and stock.