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Dec 9, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Monday, Dec. 9

Arledge remembered by colleagues

Roone Arledge could not have asked for a better production in his honor than the Monday morning funeral service attended by hundreds of those who worked for him over the course of four decades at ABC Sports and ABC News, those who competed with the powerful sports and news organizations he created or those who simply admired him.

Mr. Arledge, who remained chairman of ABC News after relinquishing day-to-day responsibilities for ABC News, died Dec. 5 after a long battle with cancer. He was 71.

The setting, St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York City, in the heart of the media capital of the world, resonated with music, liturgy and remembrances both poignant and hilarious. From all the speakers came well-told tales of the vision and genius and quirks that defined Mr. Arledge.

One of the earliest stars created by Mr. Arledge, “Monday Night Football” booth alumnus Frank Gifford, noted that “Roone would absolutely love this gathering,” which included Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather, NBC’s Tom Brokaw and NBC News President Neal Shapiro, Disney executives Michael Eisner and Bob Iger, former New York Gov. Hugh Carey, Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes and Fox founder Rupert Murdoch.

Also present were the legions of correspondents, producers and executives who worked for Mr. Arledge and who strived for his approval. A good word from Mr. Arledge brought one “inside the golden bubble, [which] was a warm and sunny place to be,” said “Nightline” anchor Ted Koppel. Mr. Koppel felt the chill outside that bubble more than once during the three decades he worked for Mr. Arledge, whose lack of journalistic credibility and record of infusing show business into everything he produced initially horrified purists inside and outside of ABC News.

Mr. Koppel addressed the waves of mourning last week that started with the loss on Dec. 1 of Mr. Arledge’s longtime deputy Joanna Bistany, who died of cancer. “But then Roone always did need someone to do the advance work,” Mr. Koppel said.

From “20/20” anchor Barbara Walters, for whom Mr. Arledge was a “life preserver” after the disastrous experience of being Harry Reasoner’s co-anchor on “World News Tonight,” came a story of how Mr. Arledge’s irreverent wit was still intact in their last conversation on Thanksgiving weekend. Having had little to do but watch TV, Mr. Arledge, Ms. Walters said, “finally had decided there were just too many commercials.”

Former ABC and NBC News executive Dick Wald, who knew Mr. Arledge since they met during freshman registration at Columbia University in 1948, said he had recently asked his former boss about managing the pain that accompanied his disease.

“It’s OK,” Mr. Arledge said. “It’s like an affiliates meeting with Vicodin.”

FCC study questioned: The National Association of Broadcasters and Network Affiliated Stations Alliance today charged that a recent Federal Communications Commission study asserting that network-owned stations produce 23 percent more local news and public affairs programming than affiliates is based on bad data and research methodology.

The FCC is using the study in a proceeding considering relaxing or eliminating many of its media ownership rules. As it stands, the study would appear to support the network effort to ax an agency rule barring them from owning TV stations reaching more than 25 percent of the nation’s TV households. But in their filing at the FCC today, NAB and NASA said the agency failed, among other things, to adequately consider the size of markets for the network-owned and affiliated stations compared.

“The sum of all the methodological and data mistakes account for the incorrect conclusion that O&O stations do a better job of producing news programs of interest to the local community,” NAB and NASA said. At deadline, the FCC had no comment.

TNT sees numbers fall for movie series: Turner Network Television’s Sunday night premiere of “Miss Lettie and Me,” its second Johnson & Johnson Spotlight Presentation, scored a 4.7 metered-market overnight rating and 6.3 share.

Those numbers represent a significant drop from the first J&J Spotlight film, July’s “Door to Door,” starring William Macy, which debuted with a stellar 6.6 metered-market overnight rating and a 10.3 share, at the time topping all broadcast networks in head-to-head competition in its time period.

“Miss Lettie,” which will be repeated several times during the month, beginning this Wednesday evening, stars Mary Tyler Moore and Burt Reynolds.J&J Spotlight Presentations are an effort by Johnson & Johnson, a founding member of the Family Friendly Programming Forum, to expand family-friendly programming on prime-time television. The program development effort was initiated by Interpublic’s Magna Global Entertainment.

Capital One, Scripps launch media initiative: Capital One Financial Corp. and Scripps Networks have launched a media and marketing initiative that will be promoted across Scripps’ Home & Garden Television and Food Network.

The agreement, negotiated by MediaVest U.S.A., a media management and broadcast agency of record for Capital One, represents the first time the Food Network and HGTV have created a customized cross-network promotion together. The deal calls for the production and placement of six 60-second commercial vignettes, created and branded to support the Capital One “No-Hassle” credit card. “Our mission is to support Capital One’s brand objectives,” said Mel Berning, president of national broadcast, MediaVest.

The vignettes, scheduled to premiere on Dec. 13 and air through third quarter 2003, will provide food, entertaining, organizational and household management information and tips.

Olivares moves to Fox’s digital network: CJ Olivares has been named VP of programming and marketing for Fox Cable Networks Group’s as-yet-unnamed action-sports digital television network, scheduled for a summer 2003 launch. Mr. Olivares, who created the “Bluetorch” and “Rush Hour” action-sports franchises for Fox Sports Network, is former CEO of the Broadband Interactive Group, the production company responsible for “Bluetorch.