News Briefs

Oct 20, 2003  •  Post A Comment

The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday asked News Corp. to supply the agency with the Fox affiliation agreements for 10 of its affiliated stations as part of the FCC’s review of the company’s acquisition of DirecTV. The FCC did not explain why the information might be relevant to its merger review. But sources tracking the deal speculated that agency officials may want to investigate allegations that the affiliation agreements run afoul of FCC regulations. News Corp. declined comment.
Scripps Interested in Tribune’s Food Stake
Media company Tribune last week offered little indication whether it would hold talks with E.W. Scripps about selling its 29 percent stake in cable channel Food Network to Scripps. “Tribune Co. is happy with our partner and is pleased with the Food Network’s performance,” a spokeswoman said in response to questions about whether Tribune would be willing to sell its stake in the channel. The cable channel, which now reaches 82 million homes and has been a strong performer for Scripps, vaulted into the spotlight Tuesday after Scripps CEO Kenneth Lowe said during the company’s third-quarter earnings conference call that he’d like to bring Tribune’s minority interest in Food Network into Scripps.
Showtime Developing Jayson Blair Film
Showtime is planning a film it said will be a “dark comedy” exploring the story of Jayson Blair, the former New York Times reporter who fabricated stories. The film is being written by Jon Maas, who also will serve as executive producer, and is based in part on Newsweek articles written by Seth Mnookin.
Fox Gets Top Diversity Grade
Fox earned the highest grade for its efforts to promote diversity, but all of the Big 4 networks showed significant improvement over last year, according to a report issued by the National Latino Media Council. The council, which consists of 13 Latino civil rights and advocacy organizations, graded each network in seven categories. Overall, Fox scored highest with a B+, ABC had a B and NBC and CBS each received a C+. ABC and Fox were cited for adding numerous Latino regulars to their prime-time shows, including ABC’s “The George Lopez Show” and Fox’s “Luis” and “The Ortegas.” ABC was the most-improved network overall, going from a D- in 2001 to a B this year.
Sweeps Swaps
The networks started making scheduling decisions last week about November sweeps. NBC is altering its schedule for the first three nights of November sweeps, while Fox plans to run an “American Idol” special during the last week of sweeps and ABC will air a Martha Stewart interview in early November. The new NBC sitcom “Coupling” didn’t make the cut for the first night of sweeps Thursday, Oct. 30. Instead, “Friends,” “Will & Grace” and “Scrubs” will all expand to 40 minutes to fill the 8 p.m.-to-10 p.m. hour. “ER” will air as usual from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. On Friday night, Oct. 31-Halloween night-NBC is pulling the new drama “Miss Match” from its schedule and will air a two-hour “Dateline” from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. and a repeat of “Third Watch.” Saturday, Nov. 1, becomes an all “Law & Order” evening with a repeat of “Law & Order” at 8 p.m., “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” at 9 p.m. and “Law & Order: SVU” at 10 p.m. New Tuesday night sitcoms “Whoopi” and “Happy Family” are getting bumped in the first week of sweeps in favor of a 90-minute “Fear Factor.” Fox plans to get a jump on January’s “American Idol” premiere by running holiday special “American Idol: Christmas Songs” Tuesday, Nov. 25, from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. (ET). Over at ABC, ABC News’ Barbara Walters has landed the interview most magazine producers considered the “big get” of the season: Ms. Stewart, whose multimillion-dollar multimedia domestic empire is sagging under the cloud of the ImClone insider trading scandal. The interview is scheduled to air for a full hour on a date still to be announced in early November.