Briefly Noted

Jul 22, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Paxson Communications, whose relationship with stake-holder NBC has been fractious since NBC bought Telemundo, has agreed to sell Fresno, Calif., station KPXF-TV to Univision, the dominant Spanish-language network, for $35 million in cash. “This transaction is the first step in our plans to raise approximately $100 million through the sale of noncore assets and represents a significant step toward maintaining the strength of our liquidity,” said Paxson President and CEO Jeff Sagansky. Pax has been feeling undervalued, overlooked and hamstrung since Telemundo took the seat at the NBC table that Pax, which had harbored hopes of becoming a full-fledged member of the Peacock family, had expected to occupy.
The Fresno transaction, Pax CFO Tom Severson said, “clearly demonstrates the significant value of the underlying assets of our broadcast platform.” NBC has no right of consent on Pax deals outside the Top 50 markets.
Adelstein sails through hearing
If any lawmakers have substantive problems with Jonathan Adelstein’s nomination to a Democratic seat on the Federal Communications Commission, those lawmakers didn’t make it to his confirmation hearings last week before the Senate Commerce Committee. The handful of lawmakers who dropped by appeared more intent on outdoing each other complimenting the 39-year-old aide to Sen. Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., than on probing him on his positions. In one of his few substantive remarks on a media-related topic, Mr. Adelstein allowed that as a new father he is concerned about some of what he sees on TV. “On hours that children watch, broadcasters ought to be real vigilant about what goes out,” he said. He subsequently told reporters that he is holding his cards close to his vest on other issues, at least until he gets the Senate’s nod. A Senate aide said the committee will vote on the confirmation as soon as possible. But at deadline it remained unclear when Mr. Adelstein would be scheduled for a Senate floor vote, because Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is trying to block votes on all nominations in an effort to get a Democratic candidate he favors installed at the Federal Elections Commission.
Coalition gives Big 4 low grades in diversity
A multiethnic coalition gave Fox the highest grade of the Big 4 networks for its diversity initiatives, while CBS received the lowest grade. However, the coalition-made up of the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition, the National Latino Media Council and American Indians in Film and Television-said there was a lack of significant improvement by all four networks when it came to increasing diversity on network television. CBS received a combined grade from the three coalition members of D-, down from a D+ last year; NBC received a D+, down from last year’s C; ABC got a C-, up from a D-; and Fox had a C, up from a C-. The coalition’s report card did not include African American talent.
The coalition’s harshest words went to CBS, with Karen Narasaki, chair of the Multi-Ethnic Media Coalition, saying, “Network President Les Moonves was never that interested in significantly increasing opportunities for Latinos, Asian Americans and Native Americans. Now he appears to have lost interest altogether.” She also said the number of African American writers and producers fell by one third. CBS took exception to the coalition’s report card and said in a statement that CBS has increased its minority representation in key roles on all prime-time programs by 33 percent since the start of the 2001-02 season. The statement pointed out that three of the four people heading CBS Entertainment development departments are minorities.
`Bachelorette’ to give her side of the story
“The Bachelor” is getting a new companion: “The Bachelorette,” a planned January 2003 companion relationship/reality series, was announced by ABC Entertainment President Susan Lyne at Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif., last week. Looking to clone “The Bachelor’s” ratings success last spring, “The Bachelorette,” from Telepictures Productions and Next Entertainment, will feature Trista Rehn, a 29-year-old pediatric physical therapist from Miami, who will be courted by 25 bachelors. Ms. Rehn was the runner-up on “Bachelor” last spring.
Ms. Lyne also announced that the blue-collar sitcom “Regular Joe,” starring Daniel Stern (from CBS’s short-lived “Danny”), has been confirmed for a midseason 2003 run. Alternative series will also figure in the midseason mix, with the addition of “Letters from a Nut,” based on Ted Nancy’s best-selling book. It will feature introductions by Jerry Seinfeld.
TNT and J&J spotlight `Miss Lettie’
Turner Network Television and Johnson & Johnson have announced that “Miss Lettie and Me,” starring Mary Tyler Moore, will be the second original movie to premiere under the Johnson & Johnson Spotlight Presentation banner, setting it for a December debut. The announcement of the scheduling and branding of the “Miss Lettie” domestic Southern drama comes just days after “Door to Door,” starring William Macy, the first J&J Spotlight Presentation, made a stellar Nielsen showing, premiering with a 6.6 metered-market overnight rating/10.3 share, topping all broadcast networks in head-to-head competition in its time period.