In a major blow to the broadcast industry, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington last Friday threw out Federal Communications Commission regulations that were to pave the way for Hollywood studios to prevent Internet redistribution of digital TV programming that is delivered by broadcast TV stations. The so-called broadcast flag technology that the FCC adopted would have used coding to impede the ability to upload digital broadcasts from TV sets onto the Internet. Hollywood already has the technology to prevent Internet redistribution of cable and satellite programming. Without being able to offer similar protections, broadcasters have been concerned that studios would shift much of their best programming to cable and satellite. Watchdog groups hailed the court’s decision as a victory for consumers. But the National Association of Broadcasters vowed to seek authorization for the regulations in Congress.
Lucas Leaves NBC Universal for Comedy Central
Jeff Lucas, senior VP of ad sales for NBC Universal Cable Entertainment, has joined Comedy Central as head of ad sales. The move reunites Mr. Lucas with Comedy Central President Doug Herzog, who was president of USA Network when Mr. Lucas joined Vivendi-Universal, which owned USA at the time. Mr. Lucas worked at NBC before moving to Universal and was welcomed back into the NBC fold when NBC acquired the cable assets of Vivendi-Universal. But the welcome came with a price. He had been president of ad sales for Universal Television and was downgraded in rank. His salary may also have been cut, sources said. Mr. Lucas’ last day at NBC was last Tuesday. That night he attended the MTV Networks upfront presentation at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.
NBC Wins Most Sports Emmy Awards
NBC claimed eight Sports Emmy awards to lead the pack at the 26th Annual Sports Emmy Awards, presented by the National Television Academy in New York last week. Five of NBC’s awards were for coverage of the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, Greece. A complete list of winners can be found at emmyonline.org.
CNBC’s `Topic A With Tina Brown’ to Fold
“Topic A With Tina Brown” will end its double run on CNBC’s Sunday night lineup on May 29. In an internal announcement to CNBC staffers Friday, CNBC President Mark Hoffman said the reason for the end of the salon-like multitopic show is that Ms. Brown needs to reduce her TV responsibilities so she can write a book about the legacy of Princess Diana for the 10th anniversary of her death in 2007. Sources said the “Topic A” hours are likely to be filled with repeats of another CNBC program.
ABC, CBS, WB Get With Programs
ABC, CBS and The WB made some programming announcements last week. ABC added midseason Sunday night medical drama hit “Grey’s Anatomy” to the list of seven other series it has picked up for the 2005-06 season. CBS said that in June and July it will launch three new reality series and debut the sixth installment of its traditional summer reality show “Big Brother.” The new shows are “Fire Me … Please,” which follows two people starting new jobs with the goal of getting fired; “The Cut,” starring fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger; and “Rock Star: INXS,” which is getting a three-times-a-week run to find the new lead singer of the Australian rock band. Over at The WB, the reality dating show “Beauty and the Geek,” which is being produced by “Punk’d” producers Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg, has been scheduled to run for six episodes beginning Wednesday, June 1, at 8 p.m. (ET).
`Chappelle’s Show’ Production Suspended
Comedy Central last Wednesday said it suspended production of “Chappelle’s Show,” and that the third season of the highly rated program will not premiere May 31 as scheduled. Comedian David Chappelle last August signed a deal to keep his show on Comedy Central that was valued at as much as $50 million, including revenue from DVD sales. Since then, however, production of the series has been delayed.