Briefly Noted

Nov 25, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Count Andy Lack, NBC president and chief operating officer, among those who are skeptical about a proposal to merge ABC News with cable’s CNN. “It looks like two guys are jumping into each other’s arms because they want to save a buck,” Mr. Lack said in remarks at a Media Institute luncheon last week in Washington. NBC already owns a cable news network of its own, MSNBC. And Mr. Lack said that ABC’s interest in CNN was clearly “following our model.” But according to Mr. Lack, NBC didn’t create MSNBC to save money. “We did it to get into the 24-hour news business,” he said. “No news organization had to go away to create MSNBC.”
Mr. Lack said that neither ABC News nor CNN would be apt to disappear following a merger. But he told reporters an ABC/CNN combination could diminish the TV news landscape. “What you worry about is you’re going to have a less vigorous news organization,” Mr. Lack said. “You hate to see deals like this come together based on bucks alone.”
An ABC source said Mr. Lack apparently has an “incredibly simplistic understanding” of some of what ABC and CNN have been discussing. “Any deal that is simply about money will not succeed,” the ABC source said. “It has to be a merger that creates an even more vibrant news organization.”
McCarthy moves up at Viacom Plus
Lisa McCarthy has been promoted to executive VP, Viacom Plus, Viacom’s cross-platform sales and marketing unit. Ms. McCarthy moves up from senior VP, Viacom Plus, which she heads, and now will also direct Viacom Plus Regional Solutions, which offers integrated media programs for clients, using Infinity Radio, Viacom Outdoor, and Viacom’s 39 owned-and-operated CBS and UPN local television stations. “Viacom Plus contributes approximately $1 billion to Viacom’s approximately $12.5 billion in annual advertising sales, Ms. McCarthy said recently.
Touchet leaves ABC News for `Today’
Tom Touchet has been named executive producer of NBC News’ “Today” show. His appointment is effective immediately and he will oversee all aspects of the morning news program. Mr. Touchet was with ABC News for seven years and held several positions within the news division. Most recently he served as senior producer for ABC News development. He also spent 51/2 years at “Good Morning America,” where he led the show’s 9/11 special events coverage.
Ling to join National Geographic
Lisa Ling, co-host of ABC daytime’s “The View,” is leaving the successful talker to become the next host of “National Geographic Explorer,” the flagship television series of National Geographic that airs weekly on MSNBC. The on-air host change will occur in the first quarter of 2003. Ms. Ling’s last day on “The View” will be Dec. 5. Ms. Ling has been a featured co-host on “The View” since May 3, 1999. Celebrity guest hosts will fill in on the “The View” until a new co-host is named.
Hallmark’s `Adoption’ renewed
The Hallmark Channel’s “Adoption,” its first original series, has been renewed for a second season of 26 half-hours. “Adoption” was telecast as a one-hour series in its first season. The series, which follows families involved in the adoption process, is executive produced by Robert Halmi Jr. and Jeff Lion Weinstock.
Corporations push for open Internet access
The Walt Disney Co., Microsoft and other major corporations with a stake in the Internet announced last week the formation of a formidable coalition that will fight to ensure that cable operators and phone companies can’t restrict the Web access of their customers. In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, the companies, under the banner of Coalition of Broadband Users and Innovators, said the government “must ensure that transmission network operators do not encumber relationships between their customers and destinations on the network.”
In a statement, Dan Brenner, National Cable & Telecommunications Association senior VP for law and regulatory policy, said, “The Microsoft-led coalition is a group in search of a problem. Ten million cable modem users today enjoy access to any content of their choice on the Internet. Those who advocate regulation of broadband Internet services have failed to provide any evidence of consumer problems accessing Internet sites.”
Other members of the coalition include RadioShack Corp., Yahoo!, eBay, Amazon.com, Apple Computer, the Consumer Electronics Association and the National Association of Manufacturers.
Biography to roll out three new series
The Biography Channel, one of the A&E networks, has a new series, “The Star Treatment,” which profiles people who cater to the stars, from hairstylists to psychics. Two other new series, “Star Closeup,” which profiles celebrities, and “Kings & Queens,” which profiles England’s monarchs, debut next month under the channel’s new “Star Central Fridays” umbrella.