News Briefs: FCC’s Tate Says She’ll Focus on Values for Kids

Apr 3, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Deborah Taylor Tate, the Federal Communications Commission’s new Republican commissioner, told reporters last Friday that she plans to use her office to encourage the TV industry to promote positive values for children. “The media has such an impact on our kids,” Ms. Tate said in her first official briefing for reporters.

Comcast to Carry NBCU Shows On-Demand

NBC Universal and Comcast Corp. announced last Thursday they have reached an agreement under which NBCU will make several broadcast and cable series available on Comcast’s video-on-demand service. Comcast digital cable subscribers will be able to access several prime-time series on NBC, as well as shows from Bravo, Sci Fi and USA Network. Scheduled to launch in May, the NBCU-Comcast deal calls for prime-time broadcast shows to be available for 99 cents starting at midnight the night they originally air. Late-night and daytime fare will be available at no charge. The series from NBCU’s cable channels will become available on the VOD service later this year, also free of charge.

TW Cable May Put Broadcast Series on VOD

In a move that could bring the digital video recorder and subscription-based video-on-demand closer together, Time Warner Cable is holding discussions with the major broadcast networks that could result in the cable operator making the 20 most popular television series available to subscribers on VOD. A spokesman confirmed that the No. 2 cable operator is holding discussions with network officials, but stressed the talks are in a very early stage and might not result in a deal.

‘Primetime’ Move Could Whip Up Speculation

A schedule change announced last week by ABC is likely to increase speculation about the future of ABC News’ “Primetime.” The network is moving the newsmagazine to 9 p.m. (ET) Fridays for three weeks starting April 14. It’s part of a scheduling change that brings struggling freshman drama “Commander in Chief” back from hiatus to inhabit “Primetime’s” time slot of 17 years-10 p.m. Thursdays-starting April 13. The off-night “Primetime” broadcasts are scheduled for April 14, April 21 and May 5. The announcement said “Primetime” will return to its regular time period Thursday, May 25, the day after the May sweeps ratings book ends. That means that no “Primetime” editions are scheduled for three of the four sweeps weeks, which is generally a sign that the network does not consider a show a sturdy ratings contributor. A spokeswoman for “Primetime” said the decision by ABC News and ABC Entertainment to move and preempt the newsmagazine was mutual.

SAG Members Authorize Cable Strike

Screen Actors Guild members voted to give union leaders authorization to call a strike during negotiations with basic cable producers. Last month SAG held negotiation caucuses with members in San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, New York and Hollywood, where votes were taken to grant authorization for a strike. Exact vote tallies were not released. “As is always the case, we hope to avoid any work interruption in pursuit of that equitable deal,” SAG President Alan Rosenberg said in a statement. Neither side would comment.

Abdul Agrees to Multiyear Deal With ‘Idol’

Paula Abdul has agreed to continue in her role as one of three judges on the Fox musical reality series “American Idol” for at least three more years, Peter Liguori, president of entertainment for the network, announced last week. Ms. Abdul, who sold more than 40 million records as a recording artist, has faced controversy during her “Idol” tenure: A former contestant made allegations of an inappropriate relationship with Ms. Abdul while he was on the show. Last year Fox conducted an investigation that ultimately found Ms. Abdul had not acted inappropriately.

2007 NATPE Convention Set for Jan. 15-18

The National Association of Television Program Executives has scheduled its 2007 conference for Jan. 15-18, once again holding the event at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas. Year three of the popular Mobile++ Conference also will be held within those dates. 

‘Arrested’s’ Demise Seen With Hurwitz’s Exit

After working for months on setting up Fox’s canceled “Arrested Development” at a new network home, the show’s producers at 20th Century Fox TV have determined the show likely will not return. 20th Century Fox TV issued a statement last week confirming that “Arrested Development” series creator and executive producer Mitch Hurwitz informed the studio that he would not return to the Emmy-winning comedy, even if it were picked up by another network. This left slim hope that the show might return sometime in the future, the statement said.

CBS Corp. ‘Unlikely’ to Attempt Univision Purchase

CBS Corp. Chief Financial Officer Fred Reynolds told investors last Wednesday that he thought it was unlikely the broadcaster would make a play for Spanish-language media company Univision Communications, citing price and regulatory hurdles. Speaking at a Banc of America Securities media conference, Mr. Reynolds said “valuation” and “regulation” were two factors that would likely prevent CBS from attempting to purchase Univision, which announced earlier this year that it was exploring strategic alternatives, including a possible sale. Mr. Reynolds’ comments came in response to a New York Post article that said CBS was considering teaming with a partner to make a bid for Univision, which is expected to fetch between $12 billion and $13 billion. Mr. Reynolds said the acquisitions CBS is looking at are more likely to be in the $300 million range.