Nets Rush to Find Video Editing Tools

Feb 9, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Although the other networks felt unanimous relief that it was CBS under barrage by viewers, press and politicians in the aftermath of Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl flash, there remained great pressure at every network to ensure there would be no further incidents of inappropriate verbal or visual displays.
That led to a rush last week for the networks to find and install new hardware and software that would not only allow audio edits of “live” shows but also quickly blur or delete offending video images.
CBS was among those scrambling to put in place new technology before last night’s Grammy Awards presentation. The network wanted to make sure it would not be the subject of another round of headlines and regulatory scrutiny.
Devices exist that can delay the audio and video signals by as little as one second or as much as 30 seconds, and there has been a burst of interest in them. But CBS needed the ability to delay for five minutes and to simultaneously bleep and blur or blackout analog and high-definition signals. And it needed it stat. By Friday CBS’s hastily assembled safety net had passed dry-run tests.
At Eventide, callers were “disappointed” the company no longer sells audio-video delay devices, a spokeswoman said.
Meanwhile Prime Image, best known for selling Time Machines, which can squeeze extra commercial time into TV programming, was expediting rush orders of Pipeline and D1Pipeline, two suddenly hot products that offer protection against audio and video no-nos.
Rodney Hampton, VP of sales and marketing for Prime Image, said he normally gets perhaps three inquiries a month. He said last week, “At least 12 individuals contacted me about this product.” He said he had heard from “all the networks.”
Prices range from $5,000 to $16,000, depending on how long a delay the buyer wants the factory to program into the machine, and delivery can take five to 10 days.
Meanwhile, the National Football League declared it would take back control of the Super Bowl halftime entertainment-a change that resulted in ouster of JC Chasez, an *NSYNC band member, as halftime singer in favor of Hawaiian entertainment at the NFL Pro Bowl in Honolulu.
“We will no longer rely on a television network to produce our [Super Bowl] halftime show,” said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello.
He said CBS had asked the NFL to hire MTV to produce the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show, but the NFL expressed to MTV a number of concerns, including doubts about some dance moves and lyrics, before and after the dress rehearsal of the whole show. “We gave changes to MTV, which had contracted with the artists,” said Mr. Aiello, who said “some changes were made and some weren’t.”
ABC, which received assent to an unprecedented delay in the Academy Awards telecast Feb. 29, intends to delay analog and high-definition Oscar feeds.
Meanwhile, at week’s end, CBS Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves was the only network executive who still had not responded to questions posed in a letter from Rep. John Dingell, the Michigan Democrat who is the ranking member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce that deals with media regulatory issues.
In their responses, NBC Chairman Bob Wright, Fox Entertainment President Gail Berman and ABC Television Network President Alex Wallau to varying lengths laid out their standards-and-practices procedures. They each declared unacceptable the use of the F-word in entertainment programming.
NBC already had a minor scuffle over whether it was acceptable to show an elderly female patient’s breast in last week’s broadcast of “ER.” The network, with the vocal support of its affiliates, excised and pixillated any glimpse of the breast.