Jan 6, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Jackson is latest to leave CNN

Brooks Jackson, the Washington-based senior correspondent specializing in campaign finance reform and political ads, is leaving CNN. Mr. Jackson joined the network in 1990 after a decade as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and more than a decade reporting for the Associated Press. The news of his departure came days after word that veteran financial correspondent Alan Dodds Franks and Miami-based Mark Potter are leaving the all-news network. A spokesman for CNN would not comment on the reason for Mr. Jackson’s exit; he is not expected to be replaced. But the spokesman insisted that CNN is not cutting back. “CNN has hired a number of people over the last several months and will continue to hire in the coming year,” the spokesman said.

Denver retransmission dispute resolved

Denver ABC affiliate KMGH-TV and local cable company AT&T Broadband reached a new six-year retransmission agreement late last Monday night that will allow the McGraw-Hill-owned station to launch its local cable news channel on the AT&T system early in 2003. The new deal came a day shy of the previous deal’s expiration date.

The dispute between the station and the cable company grew heated in the final days, with both sides running ads in the Denver media. AT&T then filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Monday afternoon asking the court to keep Channel 7’s signal on the air. The lawsuit was withdrawn the morning after the parties reached agreement.

McGraw-Hill Broadcasting has launched local news channels at its stations in San Diego, Indianapolis and Bakersfield, Calif. The San Diego station, News Channel 15, has been on the local cable system since 1992. The Denver channel, yet to be named, is expected to launch sometime in the first half of the year and possibly as early as March, said Ed Quinn, president of the McGraw-Hill Broadcasting Co. in San Diego.

The channel will originate from KMGH’s studio and will run programming largely consisting of repurposed KMGH newscasts. It will simulcast the news with KMGH and then will repeat the most recent newscast throughout the day, Mr. Quinn said. When the local morning news ends at 7 a.m. and “Good Morning America” begins, for instance, the cable channel will air repeats of the morning news from KMGH, he said. The channel will air breaking news or special events from time to time and will provide wall-to-wall election coverage. The presence of the channel reduces the need to pre-empt network programming for breaking news coverage, he said.

Commercials during the simulcasts will be the same, but the channel will sell spots separately for the repurposed news. The channel will be co-branded and marketed by KMGH and Comcast, which recently acquired AT&T Broadband. “This extends our brand and generates news revenues,” Mr. Quinn said.

Study bolsters use of DTV signal standard

Digital TV receiver improvements can ensure acceptable over-the-air delivery of DTV signals without rejiggering the nation’s ATSC/8VSB digital television standard. That was the conclusion of a research paper published in the December issue of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers’ Transactions on Broadcasting. “This contradicts some early reports, which suggested that 8VSB be heavily modified or abandoned entirely to achieve a successful transition to DTV,” said a summary of the study, conducted by Fox, Philips Research and Australian National University. Andrew Setos, Fox Group president of engineering, said the study showed that DTV reception can be made more reliable. “It is now up to the marketplace to embrace these proven techniques and endow DTV receivers with this level of reception performance,” Mr. Setos said.

Good news, bad news for cable

The good news for cable TV industry was that there were 68.8 million cable subscribers as of June 2002, an increase from the year before, according to a study released by the Federal Communications Commission last week. The bad news was that total represents subscriber growth of only 0.4 percent. Over the same period, the FCC said the number of direct broadcast satellite subscribers grew from 16 million to 18 million. “Calendar year 2002 may be the first year in which the [cable] industry as a whole has had a net loss of subscribers,” the FCC said. The FCC report also said cable TV rates rose 6.3 percent during the study period, almost six times the rate of inflation.

Russert to keynote TVB confab

NBC’s Tim Russert, moderator and managing editor of “Meet the Press” and Washington bureau chief for NBC News, will be the keynote speaker at the Television Bureau of Advertising’s 2003 Marketing Conference. The conference will take place April 15 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York. The TVB is the trade association of local television broadcasters.#