An affiliation switch set to happen in Dayton, Ohio, next September will bring LIN-owned WDTN-TV back into the NBC affiliate family after 22 years and could lead to talks about ABC bringing Sinclair-owned WKEF-TV back into the ABC affiliate fold. Twenty-two years ago WDTN and WKEF switched affiliations. Calls to LIN TV and to Sinclair headquarters were not returned by press time, and the networks declined to comment. However, sources familiar with the situation said the LIN-NBC re-affiliation in Dayton makes sense because of the joint venture between the network and the station group that gives LIN a 20 percent stake in NBC-owned KXAS-TV in Dallas and KNSD-TV in San Diego. The sources also said a similar affiliation switch is likely to happen in fall 2005 in Springfield, Ill., where LIN-owned WAND-TV would become an NBC affiliate and Sinclair-owned WICS-TV would become a candidate for ABC affiliation.
EchoStar May Drop CBS O&Os
EchoStar Communications’ DISH Network satellite service will stop carrying signals from CBS’s 15 owned-and-operated television stations at midnight March 8 if the satellite company and CBS parent Viacom can’t resolve a legal dispute over retransmission fees and the networks EchoStar must carry. The deadline stems from a restraining order imposed by a federal judge that was set to expire March 8, after which EchoStar must cease airing those 15 O&Os if the two companies have not reached a settlement. Local affiliates not owned by Viacom are not affected. At issue is the rate EchoStar must pay Viacom to retransmit CBS and which cable networks the satellite operator must carry. Specifically, EchoStar officials are balking at Viacom’s demand that to carry CBS it must also carry the Nickelodeon GAS channel. EchoStar filed an antitrust suit against Viacom to challenge the media giant’s demands. If no agreement can be reached by the deadline, all of the Viacom networks carried by EchoStar could go dark. In addition to top-rated CBS, the networks affected include MTV, VH1, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.
Dick Clark Accused of Age Discrimination
Dick Clark, 74, is being accused of age discrimination by a former colleague, television producer Ralph Andrews, 76. In a complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Mr. Andrews claims Mr. Clark wrote him a letter saying he was too old to be considered for a position with Dick Clark Productions. The letter allegedly states: “The last development guy we hired was 27 years old. Another person who is joining our staff next week is 30. People our age are considered dinosaurs. The business is being run by `the next generation.”’ Phillip Maltin, Mr. Andrews’ attorney, said the rejection constitutes a violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act.
Tribune, Debmar Studios Seal `South Park’ Pact
Tribune Entertainment Co. has reached an agreement with Debmar Studios for an off-cable distribution deal for “South Park,” the Comedy Central hit. Under terms of the agreement, Debmar Studios will distribute “South Park” in the top 30 markets throughout the United States, while Tribune Entertainment will distribute the show in all remaining markets and exclusively oversee all advertising sales for the program. The show will premiere as a strip in fall 2005 and has been cleared in 19 of the top 20 markets. Top-market clearances include WPIX-TV, New York; KCAL-TV, Los Angeles; and WCIU-TV, Chicago.
Nielsen to Measure Time-Shifted Viewing
Nielsen Media Research said it will include time-shifted viewing via personal video recorders and digital video recorders in its television audience reports beginning April 2005. The first samples to include PVR data will be the local set-metered markets. In July 2005 the national and Local People Meter services will include PVR data. Nielsen said that as part of its plan to include PVR data, it has pushed back the deployment of its Active/Passive meter from July 2004 to April 2005.