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Sep 11, 2003  •  Post A Comment

TNT Teams With Seal to Promote ‘Law & Order’

TNT is teaming with Warner Bros. recording artist Seal to create a round of promotional spots for the off-net run of “Law & Order.” There are plans for the spots to run on various Turner networks as well as radio, spot cable in 24 major markets and the Regal Cinemas movie theater chain.

The campaign, which features Seal’s single “Waiting for You,” will begin Sept. 15 and run for six weeks on cable and five weeks on radio. The 30-second spots feature a montage of clips from the popular hour-long series. In addition, TNT has created a 60-second spot that will run nationwide in Regal’s 464 theaters.

Lombardo in Line for Key NAB Post: Phil Lombardo, CEO of Citadel Communications, appeared to have the inside track to be named joint board chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters. But board sources said a formal announcement could be delayed while NAB officials figure out how to legally formalize the selection under association by-laws. Assuming Mr. Lombardo gets the official nod for the post, he will succeed Jim Yager, who resigned earlier this month for personal reasons.

Sources said Mr. Lombardo won the support of key colleagues in part because he has been active in affiliate issues. He has also been cited as a supporter of the Network Affiliated Stations Alliance campaign to roll back the cap on national TV ownership to 35 percent, a divisive issue that led to all of the major TV networks leaving the NAB over the past several years. At the same time, sources said Mr. Lombardo has made clear that he believes the association should reach out to the networks to try to persuade them to come back into the fold. “As an industry, we should be unified in approaching the FCC and the Hill,” Mr. Lombardo has been quoted as saying.

Under NAB’s usual line of succession, the joint board chairmanship would have gone to Michael Fiorele, NAB’s TV board chairman and president and CEO of Dispatch Broadcast Group. But sources said both Mr. Fiorele and Andrew Fisher-NAB TV board vice chairman and president of Cox Television-made clear that they weren’t seeking the promotion.

Twin Towers Video Rights Mixup: The recently revealed amateur video that shows both planes hitting the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001, was seen on ABC News’ first feed of “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” on Sunday, but was yanked from subsequent feeds after ABC News learned they had been dealing with someone not authorized to make a deal for broadcast of the video for free.

The video was aired multiple times Thursday on “Good Morning America” after ABC News agreed to pay an undisclosed fee to free-lance photographer Walter Karling, who is representing construction worker Pavel Hlava, who had shot the video. A spokesman for ABC News said it did not have a deal for the rights to the tape until Wednesday night, almost four days after it had been introduced on “This Week” as having been obtained for free. ABC had made the first arrangements with Mike Cohen, Mr. Hlava’s boss and the owner of the car in which Mr. Hlava was riding the morning of the terrorist attack and the camera with which he shot the video.

Other TV news organizations that had been approached since Sunday said they had been quoted prices for the video ranging from $40,000 to six figures.

“We felt it wasn’t newsworthy enough. We already had been using [impact] footage judiciously,” said one news division spokesperson, who noted it was ABC News that had been first to announce its policy, in the days just after 9/11, of not using the images of the planes hitting the towers and of the towers crumbling unless they were absolutely essential to a story.

ABC News Reporter May Face Criminal Charges: Federal authorities are considering criminal charges against ABC News investigative reporter Brian Ross and journalists who worked with him on a story about lax security at U.S. borders. For a story scheduled to air tonight on “Primetime,” Mr. Ross’ crew smuggled harmless, depleted uranium past homeland security screeners for the second straight year. “We believe ABC News may have broken the law, and we are pursuing the appropriate course of action,” Homeland Security Department spokesman Dennis Murphy told the Associated Press. “It is a question of whether or not journalists should be breaking the law in the pursuit of a news story. It’s not right for a reporter to rob a bank to prove the bank has lax security.”

A charge of false declaration of contents is among the transgressions the authorities say the ABC News crew may have been committed in its quest to smuggle 15 pounds of depleted uranium into Los Angeles from Jakarta.

“Brian Ross felt this was an important and valid test,” an ABC News spokesman said. “We don’t believe we committed any crime. It was not fraud. We did not bring anything illegal into the United States. We simply tested the system.”

On Thursday, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), a member of the Commerce Committee that oversees port security, called on the Bush administration to “cease and desist” its investigation of ABC News. “This ‘kill the messenger’ strategy does not make our nation one bitsafer,” Sen. Boxer said.

WTVO to Digitally Transform into Rockford UPN 16: Young Broadcasting will convert part of the digital signal of its ABC affiliate, WTVO-TV in Rockford, Ill., into a UPN affiliate, effective Sept. 22. The digital channel, to be known as Rockford UPN 16, will be distributed to about 60 percent of the market by Insight Communications’ cable system in the area.

In addition to the UPN prime-time block, Rockford UPN 16 will carry programming including “The Parkers,” “Moesha,” “Fresh Prince,” “Blind Date,” “Family Feud,” “Montel Williams,” “Jerry Springer,” and a four-hour weekday block of court programming. The weekend schedule will feature “ethnic programming” and science fiction series.

“WTVO-TV has developed new revenue opportunities,” said Young Chairman Vincent Young. “This innovative approach allows the station to offer the community’s viewers and advertisers two separate but complementary broadcast viewing options, while taking advantage of the savings and efficiency of operating both out of one facility.”