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Jun 13, 2002  •  Post A Comment

FCC votes to extend cable access regulations

The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-1 today to extend its cable program access regulations for at least five years. Under the regulations, cable operators are required to sell their satellite-distributed programming to competitors. Without FCC action, the rules, mandated by the Cable Act of 1992, would have expired Oct. 5. The cable TV industry has argued that competition from direct broadcast satellite operators and other services eliminated the need for the rules. But FCC Chairman Michael Powell disagreed, noting that cable still has 78 percent of the market for multichannel TV.

“Seventy-eight percent remains a phenomenally concentrated market,” Mr. Powell said. Added FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, the agency’s sole Democrat, “The extension of this rule makes possible the growth of new competitors.” In her dissent, FCC Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy said she would have axed the regulation. “Removing this artificial regulatory constraint will foster more rigorous competition and diversity in the programming and video delivery marketplace,” Ms. Abernathy said. In a statement, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association said eliminating the rule would have “restored balance in allowing limited exclusivity to be used to differentiate competitive offerings.” DirecTV, however, said the decision would preserve “competition and diversity in the multichannel TV marketplace.”

A coalition of key lawmakers led by Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., recently urged the agency to consider expanding the rule. But the FCC said it lacked authority to extend the regulation to terrestrially delivered programming and cable networks that aren’t owned by cable operators.

Kincaid to oversee KCBS, KCAL sales operations: Mike Kincaid, KCAL-TV, Los Angeles, senior vice president/general sales manager will add sister station KCBS-TV to his duties. Mr. Kincaid will oversee sales operations for both stations. The two stations will have separate general sales managers, who will report to Mr. Kincaid.

In addition, Alan Buckman, KCBS’s station manager/director of sales, has been named vice president of sales for the Los Angeles Viacom duopoly. Mr. Buckman will concentrate on television cross-platform sales initiatives and programs for Viacom properties in Los Angeles.

In other news at the Viacom station group, CBS-owned WBZ-TV, Boston expands its 10 p.m. newscast on UPN affiliate WSBK-TV to the weekends starting June 15. The half-hour newscast will be anchored by Shelli Lockhart. Her co-anchor will be named at a later date.

Biehn to star in Tribune’s ‘Adventure Inc.’: Michael Biehn, star of such film hits as “The Terminator,” “Aliens,” and “The Abyss,” has been signed to top-line Tribune’s newly named action series “Adventure Inc.” Formerly titled “The Ultimate Adventure Company,” the series will be produced in association with Fireworks Entertainment and Tribune Entertainment and is set to premiere this fall. Jay Firestone and Adam Haight will serve as executive producers of the program for Fireworks Entertainment with Gale Anne Hurd executive producing for Tribune Entertainment.

Westwood One, BET to launch BET Radio Network: Westwood One, the national radio service managed by Viacom’s Infinity Broadcasting Corp., and Black Entertainment Television, Viacom’s African-American-oriented cable network, are jointly launching the BET Radio Network, set to debut July 8. The BET network will be a daily audio feed containing branded syndicated programming. The network will launch with approximately 10 minutes of daily programming, according to a Westwood spokeswoman.

BET Radio Network will offer affiliates access to BET talent, live interactives with urban artists and concerts and other live events. BET Radio Network will deliver short-form programming as well, including BET Music News Minute, BET Weekly Movie Spotlight and BET News Minute hosted by BET news anchor Jacque Reid.

(c) Copyright 2002 by Crain Communications