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May 1, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Cable companies pledge support for Powell’s DTV plan

The nation’s 10 largest cable multiple system operators vowed Wednesday to support a plan by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell to spur the broadcasting industry’s transition to digital television. Among other things, the MSOs, including AT&T and AOL Time Warner, agreed to begin carrying up to five HDTV or enhanced DTV signals offered by broadcasters or cable networks by Jan. 1. “We look forward to working with you and the other industries you’ve called upon to help speed the DTV transition,” said Robert Sachs, president and CEO of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, in a letter to Mr. Powell outlining the MSO agreement. Said Mr. Powell in response, “I am pleased that the cable companies have embraced my challenge with solid commitments, and I look forward to similar strides by the other industries in the coming weeks.”

Cooperstein to leave Universal: Universal Worldwide Television Senior Vice President of Domestic Television Syndication Matt Cooperstein will depart the distributor Wednesday following the Studios USA/Universal reshuffle that will see Studios USA exec Steve Rosenberg on top of the newly joined operation. Mr. Cooperstein oversaw sales and distribution for the company in the U.S. market, including domestic syndication, cable, network, pay television and pay per view and managed the research and program development for the company’s activities in domestic syndication and cable television. In 1999, Mr. Cooperstein launched the successful “Blind Date,” for the company, prompting a slew of imitators this past season.

Kager heads up ad sales department for MGM, NBC Enterprises: Former Columbia TriStar honcho Chris Kager has joined MGM/NBC Media Sales Group as president. Mr. Kager will oversee advertising sales for MGM and NBC Enterprises off-network series and first-run syndication programming. He will also direct the development of marketing sponsorships and identify new opportunities for advertiser partnerships.

Mr. Kager joins MGM/NBC Media Sales Group from Rainbow Advertising Sales Corp., where he was president of national advertising sales. From 1992 to 2000, Mr. Kager was at Columbia TriStar Television, where he implemented and designed Sony’s overall media business plan for syndication, domestic cable, international cable and the domestic network business.

Malveaux takes CNN White House correspondent role: Suzanne Malveaux is coming back to Washington as a White House correspondent for CNN. Ms. Malveaux has spent the last six years as a national correspondent for NBC News, first based in Washington (where she’d worked for NBC’s WRC-TV from 1994 to 1997) and most recently based in Chicago. At CNN, she will take the White House spot that until recently was filled by Major Garrett.

NBC closes on KNTV acquisition: NBC closed on its deal Wednesday to acquire KNTV, San Jose, from Granite Broadcasting. Linda Sullivan, general manager at NBC-owned WRC-TV, will be the new general manager at KNTV. A replacement for her at WRC will be announced later.

CBS wins key demo in Tuesday time slots: Part 2 of CBS’s “Living With the Dead” miniseries posted winning scores nearly across the board in the demos, households and total viewers Tuesday night.

For the sixth night of May sweeps (April 25-May 22), “Dead” carried the 9 p.m.-to-11 p.m. (ET) frame to wins in adults 18 to 49 (5.9 rating/15 share), adults 25 to 54 (7.1//15), adults 55-plus (10.4/19), households (11.0/17) and total viewers (16.7 million). According to comparable preliminary Nielsen Media Research fast national data, Tuesday’s “Dead” outing represented a 4 percent increase from Monday’s average in adults 18 to 49 (5.7/13) and a 6 percent increase in adults 25 to 54 (6.7/14). CBS researchers said “Dead” is the highest rated and most watched miniseries since “Jesus,” which aired in May 2000.

CBS got a jump-start on the evening with “JAG” winning the 8 p.m. hour in households (9.0/15) and total viewers (13.7 million) but coming in third in adults 18 to 49 (3.2/9). The first half-hour of Fox’s quadruple dose of “That ’70s Show” (4.2/13) won the 8 p.m. frame. An hour-long 100th episode retrospective of “That ’70s Show,” at 8:30 p.m. built 14 percent from its own lead-in. A repeat “70’s Show” (4.2/10) at 9:30 p.m., however, dropped 12 percent from its lead-in.

Billed by ABC as season finales, but speculated by media watchers as potential series finales, hour-long special episodes of “Dharma & Greg” (2.5/7) at 8 p.m. and “Spin City” (2.8/7) at 9 p.m. both trailed in distant fourth-place positions in adults 18 to 49. The poor lead-in support also had “NYPD Blue” coming in fourth place in adults 18 to 49 (3.6/9), households (6.9/11) and total viewers (10.2 million) at 10 p.m.

Meanwhile, NBC cranked out respectable second-place showings in adults 18 to 49 for the 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. hours with “Bob Hope’s Funniest Outtakes” (3.5/10) and “Tonight Show With Jay Leno: 10th Anniversary Celebration” (4.6/12). “Frasier” won the 9 p.m. frame in adults 18 to 49 (5.6/14), but freshman “Scrubs” (4.1/10) dropped 27 percent of its lead-in and slipped to third at 9:30 p.m.

CBS won the night in adults 18 to 49 (5.0/13), households (10.3/16) and total viewers (15.7 million). Fox (4.5/12) came in second in adults 18 to 49, followed by NBC (4.3/11) and ABC (3.0/8).

Lauer signs new three-year deal with ‘Today’: Shortly after “Today” co-host Katie Couric signed her high-profile $14 million-a-year contract late last year, her “Today” partner Matt Lauer apparently signed a new deal that may have more than doubled his salary for an additional three years, according to TV Guide. Mr. Lauer had been presumed to be earning approximately $4 million a year under his previous contract, which had more than a year to go on it when the new deal was struck, said TV Guide.

Chiu, Harvey promoted at Touchstone: Touchstone Television, the network TV production division of ABC Television Entertainment Group, has promoted Cliff Chiu and Brian Harvey to coordinator positions in its comedy and drama series departments, respectively.

Mr. Chiu joined Touchstone Television in 1999 as an assistant to Touchstone Television President Stephen McPherson, whom he will continue to report to. Mr. Harvey came on board in 2000 as assistant to Suzanne Patmore, vice president of drama series for Touchstone Television.

In 1998, Mr. Harvey joined UPN as an assistant to their head of programming, then joined Mutual Film Co. at Paramount in 1999, where he began working with Ms. Patmore.

(c) Copyright 2002 by Crain Communications