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Dec 31, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Norville to Host MSNBC Show

MSNBC is expected to announce next week that Deborah Norville, who has anchored King World’s “Inside Edition” since 1995, will host an hour-long weeknight show starting sometime in January.

A source familiar with Ms. Norville’s new deal said King World insisted that the MSNBC show look nothing like “Inside Edition,” so her new format is not expected to include any of the packages that appear on other shows on the news network. Instead, it is expected to be built on interviews and talk.

The show, which will take the place of the 9 p.m. repeat of “The Abrams Report,” will be produced by Bruce Perlmutter. He joined MSNBC last summer after leaving CNN, where he was executive producer of “Connie Chung Tonight.” “Chung” was canceled last spring after News Group President Jim Walton declared it too tabloid-like for CNN.

Ms. Norville will continue to host “Inside Edition” at least through the 2004-05 season.

MSNBC declined to comment.

The new assignment brings Ms. Norville back to NBC, where she rose quickly until she received her biggest professional bruises during the 15 months she spent as Bryant Gumbel’s co-host and the so-called “younger woman” who supplanted the popular Jane Pauley on the “Today” couch.

Ms. Norville jumped from NBC to CBS News, where she did some reporting and anchored the short-lived newsmagazine “America Tonight.”

Her next stop was “Inside Edition.” Comcast Starts Loosening Ties to Time Warner: Cable giant Comcast has begun the process of unwinding some of its ties to Time Warner, asking the media giant to file forms with the Securities and Exchange Commission that would enable Comcast to sell its 17.9 percent stake in Time Warner Cable.

Specifically, Comcast on Monday asked that Time Warner come up with a firm underwritten offering for all of the securities that the cable giant holds in Time Warner Cable, according to documents filed today with the SEC.

In the filing, Time Warner said Comcast acquired the 17.9 percent stake in Time Warner Cable, along with a 4.7 percent stake in Time Warner Entertainment, a division of Time Warner Cable, as part of a restructuring pact that Time Warner and Comcast reached in March for ownership of Time Warner Entertainment.

Both Comcast and Time Warner have made it known in past months that they are keen on simplifying ownership structures in which both companies have a stake. In addition to the Time Warner Cable stakes, both companies own stakes in a cable system joint venture that owns systems in Texas and Kansas.

Fox Station Group Continues News Expansion in ’04: Fox Television Stations is gearing up for another round of news expansion in 2004. Denver’s Fox station KDVR-TV plans to launch a morning newscast from 5:30 to 8 in March or April. It’s the station’s first news expansion since it began offering news in July 2000 with a 9 p.m. broadcast. Also, the group’s WJW-TV in Cleveland plans to expand its morning news by a half-hour when it adds a 5 a.m. newscast early in 2004.

The station group has grown tremendously since it was first formed in March 1986 with seven stations. Through acquisitions in the ’80s and ’90s from New World, Viacom and Gillette, the group now owns and operates 35 stations in 26 markets.

Today, those 35 stations air more than eight times the amount of news they aired in 1986-more than 800 hours of local news per week, or 147 hours per day.

New WMAQ Studio Bows to Strong Numbers: WMAQ-TV in Chicago unveiled its new streetside studio Dec. 20 and generated an 8.2 rating/20 share from 9-10 a.m. That was tops in the time period, 144 percent greater than the closest competitor and 34 percent higher than what WMAQ logged during that time period in November, WMAQ said. From 10-11 a.m. Dec. 20, the station earned a 5.1/13, beating the competition by 55 percent and besting its own November numbers by 96 percent.