Briefly Noted

Sep 30, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Alexander replaces Sherman at NAB
Marcellus Alexander has joined the National Association of Broadcasters as executive VP of the television department. Mr. Alexander, previously VP and general manager of Viacom-owned CBS affiliate KYW-TV in Philadelphia since 1998, replaces Chuck Sherman, who recently relinquished the position to become full-time head of the NAB Education Foundation. Before his stint at KYW, Mr. Alexander was VP and general manager of Viacom-owned CBS affiliate WJZ-TV in Baltimore from 1989-98. Mr. Alexander also is on the board of the National Association of Television Program Executives. He assumes his new duties Oct. 7.
Intertainer takes major studios to court
Intertainer, the Culver City, Calif.-based provider of Internet-enabled video-on-demand programming, has taken AOL Time Warner, Vivendi Universal and Sony Corp. of America-three of its major Hollywood studio suppliers-to court, charging them with antitrust violations and accusing them of conspiring to fix VOD prices. Studio executives, who declined to be identified, countered that Intertainer is trying to win favorable terms in court for rights to studio films that it couldn’t win in contract negotiations.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Western Division, claims that Sony in particular used technical and other information it gleaned from Intertainer to set up Movielink, a rival online movie distributor in which five of the seven major Hollywood studios have interests, and to make sweetheart deals with Movielink at terms Intertainer calls “onerous.”
In addition to those named as defendants in the lawsuit, Movielink’s partners include MGM and Paramount. Sony, AOL Time Warner and Vivendi Universal spokespeople all declined comment, citing their policies against commenting about ongoing litigation.
ESPN launches HD simulcast
ESPN is launching ESPN HD, a high-definition simulcast service of its flagship network, in April 2003. In its first year, ESPN HD plans to offer 100 live HD telecasts, including professional baseball, basketball, football and hockey games from the major professional sports leagues and men’s and women’s college basketball, the X Games, the Great Outdoor Games and the ESPY awards. ESPN HD will be managed by ESPN VP Bryan Burns, who will report to Rick Alessandri, VP, ESPN Enterprises.
Paxson must stay with NBC
Paxson Communications cannot break off its relationship with stakeholder NBC just because NBC made Telemundo a full-fledged member of the Peacock family, an arbitrator has ruled.
After NBC acquired Telemundo and its television stations group, Paxson initiated the arbitration, seeking an out and claiming the reach of Telemundo’s station group would impede NBC’s ability to acquire control of Paxson, which owns the largest broadcast TV station group in the country.
The binding ruling last week means Paxson has to stay put until at least September 2004. NBC could wait as long as 2009 to make up its mind about how much further to take the relationship. Coincidentally, a 60-day window in which NBC can opt to make or invite a move opened Sept. 15, but the network is expected to sit tight.
NBC in talks about ownership of Bravo
NBC and Cablevision have held discussions that could lead to NBC becoming the owner of Bravo in a deal said to be worth $1 billion. NBC currently owns 6 percent of Cablevision and 17 percent of Rainbow Media Holdings, which controls Bravo, Independent Film Channel, American Movie Classics and WE: Women’s Entertainment. Cablevision and NBC declined to comment.
ESPN Deportes to roll out in 2003
ESPN plans to launch ESPN Deportes, a 24/7 Spanish-language sports network, in the third quarter of 2003. It’s one of the latest signs that Spanish-language programming is the newest frontier for big North American networks and their advertisers. And there’s another sign from the world of TV sports of the Hispanic-American viewer’s growing clout: new Spanish-language second-audio-programming feeds for TNT’s NBA programming and TBS Superstation’s NCAA programming.
ESPN Deportes will offer Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and European soccer as well as various Latin American sports leagues and Spanish-language news and information shows. ESPN currently offers an ESPN Deportes programming block on Sunday night with Spanish-language commentary and graphics. That block is available to 13 million subscribers and has presented full seasons of ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” and “Sunday Night NFL” telecasts. The new network will report to Russell Wolff, senior VP and managing director, ESPN International.