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May 3, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Hollings proposes $4 billion in grants to aid broadband rollout in rural areas

In an effort to jump-start deployment of broadband, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., introduced legislation Thursday night that establishes more than $4 billion worth of loans and grants for the rollout of high-speed Internet service in rural and underserved areas. The bill diverts revenue generated from the existing phone excise tax to fund the effort. Some of the incentives would be used to conduct research on improving broadband speeds and to set up pilot projects for wireless broadband.

FCC to hear proposals on equal employment opportunity rules: The Federal Communications Commission has slated hearings for June 24 to consider proposals to create new equal employment opportunity rules for broadcasters and cable operators. The FCC is walking a fine line on EEO because the federal courts threw out its two previous versions of the regulations as unconstitutional. The agency said the hearing will consider testimony from industry representatives, academics and watchdog groups.

Acme may be considering sale of St. Louis WB affil: Acme Communications has disclosed that it has received an offer for one of its large-market stations, believed to be its sole mature WB affiliate in St. Louis, KPLR-TV, according to Jessica Reif Cohen, analyst at Merrill Lynch. Management declined to comment on details during an earnings call this week except to say that it might benefit from waiting 12 to 18 months, when it can sell off of higher cash-flow multiples. Ms. Cohen values the St. Louis station at about $240 million, and collectively values Acme’s nine remaining TV stations (most of which are start-up WB affiliates) at between $240 million and $340 million. In a note to clients, she cited Tribune Co., which is a 25 percent owner of the WB network, as being the most likely strategic buyer.

‘Osbournes’ will return for second season: In the midst of their conversation about Ozzy’s jailhouse tattoos and annoying bedroom habits on NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” Sharon Osbourne confirmed with an enthusiastic “Yes!” that “The Osbournes” would return for a second season on MTV.

(c) Copyright 2002 by Crain Communications