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Briefly Noted

May 13, 2002  •  Post A Comment

House passes bill to postpone spectrum auction
The House of Representatives last week passed legislation that indefinitely postpones the Federal Communications Commission’s scheduled June 19 auction of spectrum used for analog television channels 52 to 69. Supporters of the measure, including House Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin, R-La., say the auction should be delayed because there’s too much uncertainty surrounding the TV industry’s transition to digital and plans by wireless companies to use the frequencies. Passage of the bill marks a setback for Paxson Communications and other broadcasters that have arranged to be compensated by wireless companies for vacating the spectrum earlier than required by the government.
Tyson swearing like a … Fox News guest
The decision to not bleep the extraordinary number of epithets, racially and sexually charged words and slurs uttered by volatile boxer Mike Tyson in an interview telecast May 4 and 5 on “Fox Wire With Rita Cosby” was a “tricky decision” arrived at after much “energizing” discussion, said Fox News Programming VP Kevin Magee. “I would be happy to defend this in front of any capital-J Journalism Class,” he said. “This is the story of where Mike Tyson is in May 2002. Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, new “Fox Wire” producer Franca Braatz and Mr. Magee decided that they would make clear to viewers (who were seeing it at 10 p.m. in the East and 7 p.m. in the West) that children and any adults who didn’t want to hear “bad language” should not watch. “It’s a classic `We Report. You Decide’ situation,” he said. “It didn’t cause as big a stir as you might think. I think people got it.”
Cablevision’s Mag Rack gains Insight carriage
Mag Rack, the niche-oriented video-on-demand service from Cablevision’s Rainbow Media, signed a long-term distribution agreement with Insight Communications, the nation’s ninth-largest multiple system operator. The deal is the first carriage agreement for Mag Rack outside of parent Cablevision, the seventh-largest MSO, which reaches approximately 3 million cable subscribers in the New York tri-state area. Insight is the first MSO to give Mag Rack a national launch.
Wendy’s to sponsor Hallmark’s `Adoption’ series
Wendy’s and the Hallmark Channel announced an agreement that will make the restaurant chain the presenting sponsor for “Adoption,” the channel’s original series, set to debut on June 1. The deal, which is the channel’s first presenting sponsorship, is valued in the seven-figure range, according Lana Corbi, president and CEO, Crown Media U.S. As part of the deal, Hallmark and the nonprofit Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption will collaborate on feature spots that will run within each episode, and Wendy’s will be a presence in Hallmark’s national print and radio campaigns promoting the series, which will have an `”Adoption’ Presented by Wendy’s” introduction. On the local marketing front, Hallmark Channel will be partnering with cable operators nationally to host “Adoption” events in select cities around the country.
FTC accuses ab device makers of false advertising
The Federal Trade Commission announced last week that three makers of electronic abdominal exercise belts routinely make false and deceptive claims about their products in 30-minute infomercials seen widely on cable. The agency is seeking permanent injunctions from federal district courts in California and Nevada against the companies-AB Energizer, AbTronic, and Fast Abs-to force them to drop the claims and “pay redress” to customers. The infomercials have run on USA, TNN, Lifetime, E!, FX, Comedy Central and elsewhere.
Liberty to wrap OpenTV into new ITV unit
Liberty Media Corp. will acquire the 43 percent economic interest and 87 percent voting interest in OpenTV it doesn’t already own and will wrap the interactive TV company into a newly formed subsidiary called Liberty Broadband Interactive Television. The new unit, which will focus on developing and investing in the interactive TV sector, will be headed by former Gemstar-TV Guide president Peter Boylan III, who will be president and CEO.
Short takes
Oxygen announced that Candice Bergen will host “Candice Checks It Out,” a weekly half-hour reality series premiering this fall. Ms. Bergen will visit with off-beat non-celebrities in their own environments, among them a pet psychic, a hip-hop DJ and a phone-sex operator. Ms. Bergen’s first series for Oxygen was “Exhale With Candice Bergen.” … Turner Classic Movies has acquired 19 digitally restored and rescored films from the estate of silent-era comedian Harold Lloyd. Those films will air in two “festivals,” one on May 28 and the second in the spring of 2003.