Briefly Noted

Jun 24, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Pageants take a walk from CBS to NBC
NBC is replacing CBS as Donald Trump’s 50-50 partner in the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants and plans to capitalize on the beauties business by telecasting the pageants on newly acquired Telemundo as well as NBC. Although last month’s Miss Universe broadcast was its most-watched since 1998, sources say that CBS wanted out of the business after seeing a general erosion in viewership for the pageants over the five years of its contract and had agreed in principle to sell its share back to the flamboyant Mr. Trump. Neither network was commenting Friday, and there was no word about how much money was involved in either transaction. The five-year NBC deal, said to have been put together by Brandon Burgess, the network’s executive VP for business development, reportedly includes merchandising opportunities through Shop NBC, and a pre-pageant special on Telemundo, which has the Spanish-language rights within the United States and Puerto Rico. There also may be additional programming targeting Hispanic viewers.
Loosening the Beltway at `This Week’
A newspaper gossip said George Stephanopoulos, who will take over as the anchor of ABC News’ “This Week” in September, isn’t moving to Washington, from whence the Sunday newsmaker show originates. He is-although he’s expected to keep digs in New York for numerous reasons. Around water coolers in D.C., it had been said that newly designated executive producer Jon Banner isn’t moving to Washington. He is-although he remains tethered to “World News Tonight” and New York for another month because he’s still needed there as a senior producer through a summer-vacation crunch. But both of them plan to break out of Washington with all or part of “Week” whenever it makes sense for the Sunday-morning show-whose ratings and profile have eroded since David Brinkley retired in 1996 and as NBC’s “Meet the Press With Tim Russert” became the top newsmaker show.
Mr. Stephanopoulos and Mr. Banner also are interested in adding more voices to the show’s overall mix and are searching for a regular who can serve as “counterpoint” for conservative George Will, as well as a fourth chair for a broad array of guests at the roundtable, a term Mr. Banner uses reluctantly because it’s “old.”
Bush OKs delay in spectrum auction
After Congress took swift action, the Federal Communications Commission abandoned plans last week to hold an auction of analog spectrum used by television channels 52 to 59. On June 19, President Bush signed into law a bill rushed through the Senate and House on June 18 mandating an indefinite delay. The bill reflects a compromise between Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, who wanted the auction to occur as scheduled, and other lawmakers who sought a delay, saying it would be premature because broadcasters won’t vacate the frequencies until after a 2006 deadline. Under the compromise, the agency will auction a limited amount of frequencies in the 52 to 59 band between Aug. 19 and Sept. 19, so rural wireless phone companies in Alaska and elsewhere can bid on them. Also sponsoring the measure were Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., and Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich.
A source said the FCC’s scheduled Jan. 14, 2003, auction of spectrum for analog TV channels 60 to 69 also will be delayed by the legislation. But the agency said it was still examining the bill and had not determined whether the upper-band auction would be postponed. The developments are a setback for Paxson Communications, which wanted stations on the bands to receive compensation from wireless companies for returning the spectrum early.
Fox News gains ground in Israel
The international flap that started when Ted Turner said, “Both sides are involved in terrorism,” when referring to the escalating violence between Israel and the Palestinians, appears to have clinched Fox News Channel’s place on Israeli television. After more than six months of negotiations to join the lineup offered to some 310,000 YES satellite TV subscribers in Israel, Fox News Channel abruptly debuted at midnight last Thursday on Channel 25. (CNN-which was not, as had been threatened, yanked in retaliation for the comments for which Mr. Turner has apologized-is on Channel 26.) Fox continues negotiations for carriage by Israel’s three cable companies. The Israeli bow means that Fox News Channel is available to some 10 million subscribers in 10 countries outside the United States. “The proximity of the channels symbolizes that there is an alternative at the touch of a button,” said a YES executive quoted by the news service Ha’aretz.
DirecTV to carry 37 additional Pax stations
Despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s rejecting appeals last week from the direct broadcast satellite industry to reverse the must-carry rules requiring carriage of local TV stations, Paxson Communications Corp. sealed a deal with DirecTV for the additional carriage of 37 TV stations affiliated with Pax TV. Jeff Sagansky, president and CEO of Paxson Communications, said in a statement that the carriage of family-friendly Pax TV stations will now allow local advertisers “to reach the high-end DirecTV customer.” In some key markets, such as Los Angeles, DirecTV is already providing carriage to local subscribers.