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Oct 20, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Cable Group Seeks FCC Limits on DirecTV Deal

The American Cable Association has asked the Federal Communications Commission to impose a series of conditions on News Corp.’s proposed acquisition of DirecTV to prevent the company from using its clout to discriminate against smaller cable operators.

One of the ACA’s key conditions would require Fox TV stations to grant retransmission consent to cable systems with 5,000 or fewer subscribers for free. For larger cable systems, News Corp. would have to stick to retransmission consent obligations “no more costly or burdensome than the terms and conditions on which such stations granted retransmission consent during the election period immediately preceding News Corp.’s acquisition.”

ACA conditions would also require News Corp. to offer programming to the National Cable Television Cooperative on effectively the same terms with which the programming is offered to DirecTV, along with an obligation to disclose the terms of its DirecTV deals to the cooperative and the FCC.

“If Fox, News Corp. and DirecTV are as good as their word, as they say they are, then these entities should have no problem agreeing to ACA’s conditions, which will prevent the public harm their merger will cause,” ACA President Matt Polka said in a statement Monday.

Alan Alda Recovering: Alan Alda is on the road to recovery following emergency surgery on Sunday in northern Chile, according to his assistant. He said the popular star of “M*A*S*H” and many other TV shows and movies should be fine following the removal of an intestinal obstruction at the San Juan de Dios Hospital in La Serena. Mr. Alda is in Chile filming a segment for PBS television’s “Scientific American Frontiers,” which he has hosted for the past seven years. Mr. Alda has asked for no visitors and is expecting his wife to arrive shortly.

CBS Gaining Texas Affiliate: CBS is gaining a long-term affiliate, KLSB-TV, in the Tyler-Longview-Lufkin-Nacogdoches, Texas, market, the 107th-largest in the country.

CBS announced the agreement with Max Media at the same time Max Media announced its agreement to acquire the station from Cobb Corp. The Federal Communications Commission recently approved Cobb’s acquisition of KLSB, described as a station that is a satellite of and is operated under an LMA with Tyler-based KTEK-TV.

Virginia Beach, Va.-based Max Media is applying this week for FCC approval of its own plan to acquire the station, which is scheduled to become a CBS Television Network affiliate during the first quarter of 2004.

American Online Intros ‘TV’s Top 5’: America Online introduced “TV’s Top 5,” a new daily feature replaying the best moments from TV comedies, drama, news, sports and reality shows. In a promotion for “Top 5,” AOL has teamed with TiVo to offer online subscribers a chance to win a TiVo video recorder.

BET Black College Tour Reaches Thousands: BET said its BET Black College Tour has reached more than 12,000 students, with more than half its 13 college visits completed so far this season. Procter & Gamble is the presenting sponsor of the tour, with associate sponsors RBK, Verizon Wireless, Pontiac, Pepsi, Southwest Airline, U.S. Air Force, Sony PlayStation and Universal/Motown Records.

Lavigne, McLachlan Concert to Air on Oxygen: Avril Lavigne and Sarah McLachlan will share a stage for a concert that will appear on Oxygen Nov. 9. The performance will be taped Nov. 4. Before the concert fans will be able to ask the singers questions via the Oxygen Web site. Time Warner Cable will be offering viewers a chance to win tickets to the show.

Spike TV Announces News Division: Spike TV has created a news and documentaries division that will be headed by journalist and author Keith Brown, network president Albie Hecht announced today. “Creating a news/documentary division is one of many developments at our network in fulfilling our promise to our viewers,” Mr. Hecht said. “This genre will allow us to experiment in creating insightful, compelling news programs and series geared to our audience.”

Mr. Brown, whose title will be VP of news and documentaries, is a former newsmagazine producer for NBC News, CBS News and PBS. Mr. Brown will build a news department focusing on programs dealing with money, health, politics, consumer trends and style. He will oversee production on “Spike Marketwatch,” “Zero to Sixty” and “Men’s Health Minutes.”

Gumbel to Host Sci Fi Special: Bryant Gumbel will host a new special on the Sci Fi Channel Oct. 24 dealing with a Roswell-like UFO incident in the Pennsylvania town of Kecksburg.

Peabody Awards Call For Entries: The 63rd Annual George Foster Peabody Awards, a not-for-profit program honoring outstanding achievement in electronic media, are now accepting entries for programming produced and distributed in 2003. The announcement was made today by Horace Newcomb, director of the awards program, which is administered by the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

“This is the time when excitement begins to build,” Mr. Newcomb said. “Our job is to set the highest standards and to find the material to meet those standards. In the end, the works we select as Peabody winners will truly define excellence in radio, television, cable and the Web.”

The entry deadline is Jan. 15, 2004. Entrants may apply online at www.peabody.uga.edu. The winners will be announced in early April and presented with the awards at a ceremony in New York on May 17, 2004.

World Series Dominates Weekend Ratings: The first two games of Fox’s World Series match-up between the Florida Marlins and New York Yankees didn’t rate as high as the last few games of the League Championship Series, when the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs were still in the mix, but both posted solid numbers to win Saturday and Sunday nights.

Game 1 on Saturday night scored a 10.9/20 fast national rating-up 16 percent from last year-and an average 16 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. That’s a 16 percent gain over the same game last year.

Fox easily won Saturday night in households, total viewers and adults 18 to 49. Game 2 on Sunday also finished first in all three measurements. It averaged a 6.6/17 in adults 18 to 49 and 17.8 million total viewers. Top nonsports choices for the night were CBS’s “Cold Case” (2.8/7 in adults 18 to 49 and 11.4 million viewers) at 8 p.m., NBC’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (4.7/11 in adults 8 to 49 and 14.2 million viewers) at 9 p.m. and ABC’s “The Practice” (3.8/10 in adults 18 to 49 and 10.6 million viewers) at 10 p.m.

For the night, Fox won the night in adults 18 to 49 with a 6.6/17, followed by ABC (3.2/8), NBC (3.0/8), CBS (2.9/8) and The WB (1.7/4). In total viewers, Fox won with 17.8 million, followed by CBS (10.7 million), NBC (9.5 million), ABC (9 million) and The WB (3.9 million).

In other weekend news, NBC’s scheduling changes on Friday night helped it place second in adults 18 to 49 instead of third as it has been in previous weeks. NBC did still finish in third in total viewers. “Dateline” finished third in its time slot in adults 18 to 49 with a 2.3/8, after ABC’s sitcoms “George Lopez”/”Married to the Kellys” (2.9/10) and CBS’s “Joan of Arcadia” (2.7/10).

“Miss Match,” in a new 9 p.m. time slot, finished second with a 2.7/8 in adults 18 to 49 after ABC’s sitcoms “Hope & Faith”/”Life With Bonnie,” while a rerun of “Law & Order: SVU” won the 10 p.m. time slot with a 3.2/10, beating out ABC’s “20/20” newsmagazine (2.6/8) and CBS’s original drama “The Handler” (2.5/8).

ABC’s new “TGIF” lineup won Friday night in adults 18 to 49 with a 3.0/10, followed by NBC (2.7/9), CBS (2.5/8), Fox (1.7/6), The WB (1.3/4) and UPN (0.8/3). In total viewers, CBS won the night with 10.7 million, followed by ABC (8.7 million), NBC (7.8 million), Fox (4.2 million), The WB (2.8 million) and UPN (2.3 million).