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Jun 11, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Mischer Returns as Emmy Producer

Award-winning television producer Don Mischer will return to executive produce the Primetime Emmy Awards this year. The announcement was made Wednesday by Television Academy chairman Bryce Zabel and Fox president Gail Berman. Mr. Mischer has produced seven previous Emmy telecasts and has won 13 Emmys of his own.

In a prepared statement, Mr. Zabel praised Mr. Mischer’s history with the academy. “He always brings a fresh vision and approach to the Awards, and every year is better than the last,” Mr. Zabel said. “We are thrilled to welcome him back.”

The 55th annual prime-time Emmy Awards will air on Fox on September 21 from the Shrine Auditorium.

NAB Board Directs Staff to Lobby for Legislation: The National Association of Broadcasters TV board today directed the NAB staff to lobby for legislation to keep the 35 percent cap on national TV ownership and achieve other association goals. Over NAB’s opposition, the Federal Communications Commission’s Republicans voted recently to raise the cap to let the networks and other major broadcasters acquire stations reaching 45 percent of the nation’s TV homes. But now the NAB staff has marching orders to roll back the cap on Capitol Hill, where a vote on relevant legislation has been slated in the Senate Commerce Committee for June 19.

At NAB’s board meeting some industry leaders warned that legislation could backfire on the industry if loaded with provisions that broadcasters oppose, including the fairness doctrine, a regulation that once required broadcasters to cover both sides of controversial issues. So the board has charged the NAB staff with trying to ensure the legislation is consistent with the board’s cap position and other longtime association goals, including abolition of the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership prohibitions and duopoly relief in smaller markets.

The fight over the cap has long divided the affiliates and their networks, and NAB, CBS and Fox-proponents of deregulation-bailed out of NAB because of their differences on the issue. In the interests of industry unity, sources said, the sole major network rep remaining in the NAB-Preston Padden, The Walt Disney Co., executive VP, worldwide government relations-urged his colleagues to drop the cap issue as an interference with network distribution goals. At one point, sources said, Mr. Padden held up a sign that said, “The 11th Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Use the NAB to Screw Thy Fellow Broadcaster.”

EchoStar Ordered to Stop Out-of-Town Signals: A federal district court judge in Florida today ordered satellite TV operator EchoStar Communications to stop offering out-of-town television network signals to customers who live in areas served by a broadcast affiliate of the network. At deadline, representatives of EchoStar had not returned telephone calls. But in a statement, the National Association of Broadcasters said EchoStar had been illegally transmitting the distant signals of the Big 4 TV networks to hundreds of thousands of ineligible homes. “Today’s ruling … is an important victory for free, local, over-the-air television and the viewers across the country who depend on it,” NAB President and CEO Eddie Fritts said. “With this ruling, EchoStar’s years of copyright violations will finally come to an end.”

‘Last Comic Standing’ Scores for NBC: NBC’s debut of “Last Comic Standing” was the highest-rated show of the night in adults 18 to 49. It scored a 4.5 rating and 13 share in the demo and won its 9 p.m.-to-11 p.m. time slot by a 55 percent margin over second-place ABC, according to Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data. From 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. “Dog Eat Dog” pulled a second-place 3.0/10 in adults 18 to 49, down from last week’s 3.4/11.

The second episodes of Fox’s “American Juniors” and “Keen Eddie” saw declines. “Juniors” fell to a 3.4/12 in adults 18 to 49 from a 4.8/15 a week ago, but that was still good enough to win its time period. “Eddie” dropped 28 percent in the demo to a 2.3/7 from its 3.2/9 a week ago. It ranked third in its time slot.

In adults 18 to 49, NBC won the night (4.0/12), followed by Fox (2.9/9), ABC (2.8/9) and CBS (1.6/5). NBC won the night in total viewers with 9 million, followed by ABC (7.6 million), CBS (7.4 million) and Fox (7 million).

Disney Iger Downplays Programming Pricing Despute: Walt Disney Co. president and chief operating officer Bob Iger downplayed the tussles that cable programmers and operators continue to have over pricing when he briefed a group of reporters at NCTA’s 52nd annual The National Show in Chicago Wednesday morning.

“We’ve had a long, healthy relationship with cable operators,” Mr. Iger said at the ABC Cable Networks booth. “It’s a good business for us, a good business for them … there’s always been tension based on price. It’s a fact of life in this business. There’s more tension on ESPN lately.”Mr. Iger also quickly touched on several other key topics related to Disney’s TV business: He admitted the company’s bid for the Olympics was a “long shot” and in part meant to “show respect to the IOC and the Olympics themselves”; government regulation of cable pricing, and an a la carte system of offering programming networks would be “more costly” and “a big mistake” for the business and consumers as far as he’s concerned; he said he does not foresee a big sea change in the business in light of the Federal Communications Commission’s relaxing regulatory measures; and on the topic of retransmission consent, he said the ABC owned stations are extremely valuable “and should be recognized.”

Mr. Iger would not comment on the negotiations between Disney cable service ESPN, which has come under fire for trying to hike its rates with multiple system operators by 20 percent. However, he did say in the end it’s up to the cable operators to decide on what they carry and that Disney is trying to keep the dialog with MSOs open when it comes to the “complicated negotiations.”

He said he showed up at NCTA because cable is “one of the most important businesses to the Walt Disney Company,” adding that he expects cable to be a big driver in the company’s growth.