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Dec 2, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Monday, Dec. 2

Study recommends government should require digital TV tuners

A General Accounting Office study released today recommends that the federal government require all new TV sets to include cable-ready digital TV tuners to help spur the rollout of the new technology. The report also says the government should set a date establishing when cable’s must-carry obligation will switch to a broadcaster’s DTV signal from its analog one. In addition, the report recommends that the government take steps to raise public awareness about the new technology.

In a statement, Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said he was concerned the study showed that 40 percent of consumers had not heard of DTV. “DTV still has incredible potential for being a driver of economic growth, innovation and job creation but only if government provides the leadership required to jump start much-needed economic activity by taking concrete steps to dramatically accelerate the digital television transition,” Rep. Markey said. He also said he was working on DTV legislation.

Gore to host SNL: Former Vice President Al Gore, who has been touring in support of his and wife Tipper’s book “Joined at the Heart,” will make his debut as host of “Saturday Night Live” Dec. 14, when Phish makes its debut as musical guest. Mr. Gore made an appearance in an opening sketch opposite then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush during the 2000 presidential campaign.

Fox launching reality series: Fox is readying “Joe the Millionaire” a seven-episode unscripted drama series from the creators of “Temptation Island.” The series is set in the French countryside and over the course of a month follows a construction worker with limited finances who is presented to 20 women as a man who has recently inherited $50 million and is looking for someone to share his wealth with. Joe courts the women, selects one but then must reveal the truth about his masquerade and his finances. The show premieres Monday, Jan. 6, at 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. (ET).

“Joe the Millionaire” is produced by Rocket Science Laboratories. Jean-Michel Michenaud and Chris Cowan serve as executive producers. Liz Bronstein is co-executive producer and Roberto Cardenas is supervising producer.

Nielsen, Ucentric to create new measurement system: Nielsen Media Research and Ucentric Systems announced an agreement today to create television audience measurement software that will track usage of personal video recorders on multiple television sets.

Many digital set-top boxes will be powered by Ucentric Multi-TV PVR applications. Under the agreement, Nielsen software will be integrated into the Ucentric system. This will enable Nielsen to collect tuning, recording and playback information from every TV set in the home connected to the Ucentric system.

This audience measurement software would be used only by Nielsen Media Research to retrieve data from Nielsen sample households and only with permission from the household, as is the case with all homes in its samples. The software is inactive in non-Nielsen homes.

“With Ucentric, we are creating new measurement capabilities for the new networked home,” said Scott Brown, senior VP for strategic relationships at Nielsen Media Research. “Nielsen Media Research will be able to provide the industry with a continuous flow of data in this ever-changing environment.”

ABC News executive and producer Joanna Bistany dies: Joanna Bistany, who for 17 defining years was a top ABC News executive, died Sunday night after a long battle with cancer. She was 55.

She joined ABC News in 1983 as spokesperson for the division and was named former ABC News President Roone Arledge’s deputy three years later. Over the next 12 years she oversaw talent and program content for the ABC News magazines and Washington-based shows and played a key role in the careers of many people. Mr. Arledge, now chairman of ABC News, said, “Joanna was one of the most important executives working with me to build ABC News into the leading news division in America.”

Prior to joining ABC, Ms. Bistany worked in the Reagan White House as special assistant to the president for communications. Before moving into politics, she served on the faculty of the University of Cincinnati, on the staff of the developmental diagnostic center at the Children’s Hospital Medical Center and as director of the Language and Development Center at Cardinal Hill Children’s Hospital in Lexington, Ky.

Ms. Bistany left ABC News in 2000 as senior VP and began working on developing TV programming that she intended to produce.

“Throughout her time with us at ABC News, Joanna showed her enthusiasm, great spirit, and remarkable strength,” said ABC News President David L. Westin. “Never did she demonstrate these great qualities more than during her illness. Whether the news was good or bad, Joanna greeted it with optimism and determination. She was always realistic, but also intent on living her life fully and with gusto. We will miss her terribly.”

ABC News has established the Joanna Bistany Memorial Scholarship, which will be awarded to a student selected by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and presented at the group’s annual scholarship dinner in February in New York. The scholarship recognizes Joanna’s commitment to diversity and to the development of minority correspondents and producers.

A private family service will be held in Pennsylvania this week and a memorial will be scheduled in New York later in the month. In lieu of flowers, Ms Bistany’s family asks that donations be made in her name to the Salvation Army of Greater New York, 120 W. 14th St., New York, NY, 10011.

CBS News pioneer Ernest S. Leiser dies: Ernest S. Leiser, a producer who helped CBS News make the transition to television and who helped install Walter Cronkite as anchor of the “CBS Evening News,” a choice that would largely define the role of the flagship anchor an icon for a generation of TV news audiences, died Nov. 29 of congestive heart failure. He was 81.

He joined the network in 1953 after serving as a correspondent for Stars and Stripes during World War II. He scooped other news organizations by getting film showing the 1956 uprising in Hungary.

He became a New York-based producer in 1960, a position that allowed him to influence the CBS News division’s increasing emphasis on the developing medium of television. He later became director of television news, a position that put him in charge of such milestone events as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

He spent three years at ABC News in the ’70s and then returned to CBS News, from which he retired in 1985.