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Mar 29, 2004  •  Post A Comment

‘Jordan’ Gets Early Pickup

NBC has renewed “Crossing Jordan” for another year. “Jordan,” which is in its third season, returned to NBC’s lineup four weeks ago and has consistently won its Sunday 10 p.m. time slot. It is averaging a 4.8 Nielsen Media Research rating in adults 18 to 49 (41 percent above ABC’s second-place “The Practice”) and 13.1 million total viewers (39 percent above “The Practice”).

“For three years we’ve been looking for the right show to pair with ‘Law & Order: Criminal Intent’ and we’ve finally found it in ‘Crossing Jordan,’ said Jeff Zucker, president of NBC Entertainment, Cable and News Group. “Two years ago it was the highest-rated new drama of the year. Last year it more than held its own against ‘CSI: Miami,’ and now it’s returned to the schedule with a vengeance. The show has clearly earned this early pickup and signals the strength and stability of our new Sunday night schedule.”

EchoStar Ordered to Pay $4.8 Million in Legal Fees: A federal district court judge in Florida has ordered EchoStar to pay $4.8 million in legal fees to attorneys for broadcasters in a long-pending case in which it is alleged that EchoStar illegally retransmitted distant network TV signals to its customers in areas served by local affiliates. In a March 25 order, Judge William Dimitrouleas said the fee award was one of the largest ever in a copyright infringement case. But he said the assessment was “not excessive,” given that the litigation went on for more than four years. “In making this award, the court has taken into account the vast amount of profits earned by EchoStar due to its past willful infringement,” the judge said. “Moreover, the court believes a large fee award is necessary to deter any future infringement.”

The biggest winner on the fee front was Wilmer Cutler Pickering, the Washington law firm representing the major TV networks in the litigation. It was awarded $4,315,914.45. Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard, the North Carolina law firm representing the affiliate associations, was awarded $360,896.

Wade Hargrove, a lead attorney for the affiliates in the case, said the award was important because it offered further vindication for station’s position that EchoStar had been in violation of the distant signal provisions of the satellite act. “It’s also a vindication of the commitment of broadcasters to see this case through and commit the resources necessary to protect their local service,” Mr. Hargrove said. An EchoStar spokesman had not returned telephone calls. But EchoStar’s appeal of the original court decision holding the company in violation of the Satellite Home Viewer Act is pending in federal appeals court.

NATPE Convention to Stay in Las Vegas: The National Association of Television Program Executives has confirmed that the organization will stay in Las Vegas for next year’s convention. NATPE 2005 will take place Jan. 25-27 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Convention Center in Las Vegas. NATPE and Mandalay Bay have entered into a two-year agreement that also puts the annual conference at the resort the week of Jan. 23, 2006.

“I am pleased to announce our official dates and location for NATPE 2005 and 2006,” said NATPE CEO Rick Feldman. “After a successful NATPE in January this year, our members made it clear that holding the event in an adjoined facility in Las Vegas made the conference a highly productive one for all. Since we wrapped NATPE 2004, we’ve worked very hard to confirm Jan. 25-27, 2005, and the week of Jan. 23, 2006, at Mandalay Bay, which provides us with everything we require to hold yet another successful conference under one roof.”

ABC Tweaks Wednesday, Thursday Schedules: “Stephen King’s Kingdom Hospital” and “Extreme Makeover” are swapping time slots. ABC is moving “Hospital,” which has seen its ratings steadily decline after a strong premiere, to 9-10 p.m. Thursdays starting Thursday, April 1. “Extreme Makeover” moves to 10 p.m. Wednesday nights starting April 14. On Wednesday, April 7, the premiere of the next edition of “The Bachelor” will air from 9-11 p.m.

TNT, Dodge Team for ‘The Grid’: Turner Network Television and Dodge have entered into an integrated marketing partnership for TNT’s upcoming limited original series “The Grid.” The agreement includes promotional category exclusivity for the Dodge Magnum.

In addition, the promotional package includes on-air billboards, promotional tune-in spots, on-air advertising, customized vignettes, a consumer sweepstakes and online integration as well as off-channel print advertising and billboards. As part of the agreement, Dodge’s partnership will be expanded to include a cross-promotion with TNT’s coverage of the 2004 NBA playoffs. Turner and Dodge will develop customized vignettes-“Magnum Hot Spot Highlights”-featuring TNT analyst Craig Sager behind the wheel of a 2004 Dodge Magnum as he takes viewers on a spin to various hot spots around NBA cities hosting playoff games.

Root Joins Discovery: Discovery Networks has hired BBC Two Controller Jane Root as executive VP and general manager of the Discovery Channel in the United States Ms. Root will join Discovery in mid-May and will be based at the company’s headquarters in Silver Spring, Md. She replaces 18-year Discovery veteran Clark Bunting, who has been promoted to executive VP, Discovery Networks U.S., overseeing 10 of the division’s networks.

Cablevision Issues $2 Billion in Debt: Cablevision Systems Monday said it was issuing $2 billion in debt to reduce the leverage of its CSC Holdings unit.

The securities, $1.5 billion of which will be issued by Cablevision itself and $500 million of which will be issued by CSC Holdings, will be offered in a series of private transactions and sold to a group of institutional investors.

Proceeds from the Cablevision sale will be used to purchase CSC Holdings stock, while proceeds from CSC Holding’s offering will be used to repay debt. Cablevision said CSC Holdings will then borrow the amount repaid for a lower interest rate.

Meanwhile, Cablevision officials said the company expected its first-quarter financial results to be impacted by last week’s arbitration ruling that ordered the operator to carry the YES Network on basic cable.

Though the company did not provide a dollar amount, it said the costs of the new YES pact would be applied in the first quarter and would include retroactive payments to the network for the quarter. To partly offset the higher programming fee set by the arbitration panel, Cablevision said it will raise its basic-cable rates by 95 cents.

WPIX Receives 11 N.Y. Emmys: Tribune-owned WPIX-TV earned 11 awards to dominate the 47th Annual New York Emmy Awards on Sunday night at the Waldorf-Astoria. In close second was WNBC-TV with nine Emmys. A complete list of winners can be found at www.nynatas.org.

Talk show host Maury Povich, the president of the New York chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, presented the chapter’s Governors’ Awards to Anna C. Carbonell, VP for station relations for WNBC-TV and Telemundo sister station WNJU-TV; and News 12 Networks President Patrick Dolan.

SoapNet to Air ‘They Started on Soaps 2’: SoapNet will debut “They Started on Soaps 2” at 11 p.m. April 21. The special will feature soap players who have gone on to stardom, including Jennifer Lopez, Courteney Cox and Robert De Niro. The special will re-air April 24 as part of a five-hour block. The block starts with “They Started on Soaps,” featuring Demi Moore, Julianne Moore and Brad Pitt; three classic soaps featuring future stars such as Ms. Moore, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Kelly Ripa and Alec Baldwin; and will conclude with the new special.

Fuse, Wrigley Announces Partnership: Fuse and Wrigley’s Winterfresh brand announced today that they will team up for an advertising and promotional program that will integrate the Winterfresh logo into both on-air and on-line content for the music network.

Hassler to Return to ’60 Minutes’ as Executive Editor: Patti Hassler will return to “60 Minutes” as executive editor in June, when Jeff Fager becomes executive producer of the CBS News magazi
ne. Ms. Hassler helped Mr. Fager spin off “60 Minutes II” in 1998 and has been the show’s executive editor since 1999.

At “60 Minutes,” where she spent 18 years before putting in a couple of years as executive producer at CBS News Productions, Ms. Hassler will succeed Josh Howard.

Mr. Howard has been set to become executive producer of the spinoff in June, when “Minutes” creator Don Hewitt takes an at-large position and becomes executive producer for CBS News.

At the same time, Mary Murphy, a well-traveled senior producer at CBS News, will become senior broadcast producer of “60 Minutes II.” Ms. Murphy has been senior editor of CBS News’ campaign, a role she held during CBS News’ coverage of the war in Iraq. Before that, she spent four years as senior broadcast producer for “CBS News Sunday Morning” after having worked for Steve Kroft as producer on “60 Minutes.”

“Mary Murphy is one of the most versatile and talented producers in the news business,” said Mr. Howard.

ABC Creates HR Senior VP Positions: ABC Inc. has created two VP positions to oversee a new human resources strategy to serve the company’s various divisions.

Louis Gutierrez, who had been a senior human resources executive at Paramount Pictures since 1992, will be responsible for the company’s HR Business Partners services and support to the ABC Television Network, the ABC-owned TV stations, Buena Vista Television, Buena Vista Productions and Buena Vista International. Andrew T. Martin, who has been an executive with Disney Consumer Products, will have similar responsibilities for the ABC Cable Networks Group, ABC Radio, Hyperion Books and ABC headquarters personnel. Both will be based in Burbank, Calif., and will report to Human Resources Senior VP Jeffrey Rosen.