B & C Eye

Sharing the gold

NBC gave affiliates four extra minutes of local ad time to sell during the last two nights of the Olympics. That was to make up for all the front-loading of local ads during the games NBC took as a way to boost the broadcast's national ratings.

To Nielsen, the night begins with the first national commercial. But Olympic viewership is usually lower during that first half-hour. So, throughout the games, NBC shifted national spots out of, and local time into, the first 30 minutes. For many affils, the added spots were icing on the cake. The spot-shifting presented logistical headaches, but most stations came out ahead. "NBC did a terrific job on the games," said Post-Newsweek chief Alan Frank, not known for giving easy compliments to his network partners.—S.M.

Growing family

The Family Friendly Programming Forum is now working with all the Big Four broadcast networks. Over the past two seasons, the advertiser-sponsored production consortium aimed at developing family-friendly fare has helped develop a pair of series at The WB: freshman comedy Raising Dad
and sophomore Gilmore Girls
(above). The forum comprises more than four dozen advertisers supplying seed money for scripts and pilots. With development season in full swing, the forum's Barbara Bacci Mirque says it has already seen over 30 concepts from the four nets. "We'd like to get a couple of shows on the air each season that are family-friendly," she says, "and are encouraged because we are seeing so many different concepts from so many networks."—J.S.

Planning ahead

Getting the shot is what TV news is all about. And what might seem tactless in some quarters is considered planning ahead in TV news. So it should come as no surprise that networks take steps to make sure they get the most dramatic shot. Example: NBC is installing a robotic camera at the Vatican so it won't miss the release of a puff of smoke over St. Peter's Square that signals the naming of a new pope. ABC is said to be interested, too.—K.K.

Murdoch, take two

Mitch Stern (above), who oversees the Fox TV-station group, has a new boss: Lachlan Murdoch, 31-year-old son of Rupert and heir apparent to the News Corp. empire. It's the younger Murdoch's first direct management role on the TV-operations side; he also oversees the company's vast print operations. Stern had reported to News Corp. President Peter Chernin until January. Other TV sector heads, including Tony Vinciquerra, who runs the business side of the Fox network, and Sandy Grushow, who oversees the entertainment side and TV- production arm, continue to report to Chernin. Insiders say the scion will likely take a bigger management role in TV. It's just a question of when.—S.M.

The road back

Is Frank Andrews the once and future king of television in Wilkes Barre-Scranton, Pa.? Long the lead anchor and news director at market leader WNEP-TV, Andrews lost those posts in 1997 due to a host of problems including alcoholism and back and hip injuries from an auto accident.

No. 3 station WYOU(TV) hired him in 1998, but more troubles took him off the air again. He came back to WYOU in 2000 as a producer and assistant news director, the station's ranking news executive (under a shared-services agreement, WYOU and WBRE-TV are owned separately but share News Director Al Zobel).

Now Andrews will anchor WYOU's 5:30 and 6 p.m. news while continuing as assistant news director.

"My goal has always been to get back on the air," he said. "But I'm glad I went through treatment, In January, I celebrated two years of continuous sobriety." He's now active in sharing his experiences as a recovering alcoholic.—D.T.