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Apr 9, 2004  •  Post A Comment

RTNDA Blasts Forced Erasure of Reporters’ Tapes

The Radio-Television News Directors Association on Friday joined the chorus of protest over an incident earlier in the week during which a U.S. federal marshal guarding U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia ordered two reporters to erase tape recordings they were making of a speech by the justice at a Hattiesburg, Miss., high school.

“This high-handed seizure of a journalist’s work product without any regard whatsoever for the rights and responsibilities of the news media is totally unacceptable,” said Barbara Cochran, RTNDA president, in a statement. According to the Associated Press, the marshal ordered the erasures because Justice Scalia had made clear that he didn’t want his remarks recorded.

“It is ironic that this desecration of the First Amendment took place during a speech on the reverence owed the Constitution made to impressionable high school students,” Ms. Cochran said. “What kind of lesson about the Constitution did they learn?”

In a letter to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of Press said the government’s action ran afoul of the Privacy Protection Act and Justice Department guidelines.

Wide Orbit Ups Installations: Traffic provider WideOrbit said it has now installed its traffic software in more than 100 TV stations and cable networks, up from four just two years ago at this time. The customer list includes more than 30 TV stations groups, such as The New York Times, The McGraw Hill Companies, Hearst-Argyle Television and others.

WideOrbit also said it has released WO station 4.0, the latest version of its traffic system. The latest iteration is more than nine times faster in “core workflow areas” than previous versions, the company said.

At the upcoming National Association of Broadcasters Convention in Las Vegas, Wide Orbit plans to demonstrate WO Sales+, a research and proposal system that is integrated into its existing traffic system. WO Sales+ will be available in August.

‘The Apprentice’ Scores for NBC: “The Apprentice” delivered for NBC last night, scoring a 10.6/27 among adults 18 to 49 and 21.8 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data. Not only is that the highest-ranking show of the night in adults 18 to 49 but it is the highest-rated show in the demo all week, beating the Tuesday edition of “American Idol,” which scored a 10.1/30. In total viewers, “Idol’s” Tuesday edition was still tops with 23.5 million, but it beat Wednesday’s “Idol,” which had 20.6 million viewers.

CBS’s “Survivor” won the 8 p.m. hour with a 7.7/23 in adults 18 to 49 and 20.1 million viewers, up against a rerun of “Friends” and an original “Will & Grace.” At 10 p.m. NBC’s “ER” won the time slot with a 9.3/25 in adults 18 to 49 and 19.9 million total viewers. “Apprentice” and “ER” did have the luxury of airing against repeats of CBS’s “CSI” and “Without a Trace.”

For the night, NBC won among adults 18 to 49 with an 8.6/24, followed by CBS (6.1/17), ABC and Fox (1.8/5), UPN (1.7/5) and The WB (0.9/3). In total viewers, NBC won the night with 18.4 million, followed by CBS 17.9 million, ABC (5.4 million), UPN (4.7 million), Fox (4.2 million) and The WB (2.7 million).

Appeals Court Stays Cable Operators Decision: Giving a breather to the cable TV industry, the full U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco Friday stayed a decision that could require cable operators to open their broadband networks to competitive Internet service providers. The stay was requested by the National Cable & Television Association and the Federal Communications Commission. Said NCTA, in statement, “We will now turn our attention to developing our formal appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and look forward to having this case decided on its merits.”

Disney Sues Disney for Shareholders Vote Results: Disgruntled former Walt Disney Co. board member Roy Disney on Thursday stepped up his efforts to get employee-voter data from the company’s March 3 shareholders meeting, filing a lawsuit in Delaware Chancery Court to force the entertainment company to reveal the results.

The suit is Mr. Disney’s latest attempt to gain access to data on how Disney employees with stakes in the company through employee retirement plans voted in CEO Michael Eisner’s re-election to the company board. Though Mr. Eisner suffered a huge blow at that meeting, in which 43 percent of the votes cast withheld support for his re-election, Mr. Disney has suggested that an overwhelming majority of the Disney employee votes withheld support for Mr. Eisner — a statistic that would illustrate unrest within the company.

Mr. Disney filed the suit after Disney executives said they would release the data to him on the condition that Mr. Disney sign a confidentiality agreement before reviewing the results.

Meanwhile, in a move that could signal his acknowledgement that his work as Disney’s non-executive chairman won’t be easy, George Mitchell said he won’t seek re-election to the Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide board when his term expires May 7. He has served on the hotel chain’s board since 1997.

Mr. Mitchell was named non-executive chairman of Disney immediately following the Disney board’s decision to strip Mr. Eisner of his chairman title after the no-confidence vote by shareholders. However, Mr. Mitchell’s appointment hasn’t been without controversy. He garnered a 24 percent no-confidence vote at the March 3 shareholders meeting.