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MTV Networks put its money where its mouth is last week, taking out an ad supporting the First Amendment in the program for The Media Institute's awards banquet in Washington (it was also a sponsor of the event). The ad is a photo of MTV's Osbournes—known for peppering the conversation with sailor-like language—accompanied by the appropriately salty salute: "Here's to Freedom of &!*% Speech.—J.E.

Bon ton still roulez-ing

The NATPE convention in January will not boast palatial booths, but the show in New Orleans may still be a place to meet and greet. NBC's affiliate board has decided to hold a meeting there, and Fox's board plans to host an affiliate event as well. CBS is likely to do so, as may ABC and UPN. Come April, however, the Big Apple will be the place to be, with the NBC affiliates and major TV groups like Hearst-Argyle and Tribune all planning meetings around the Television Bureau of Advertising's gathering.—P.A.

Lip reduction

Pax TV appears to have found a hit in new series Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye, which debuted Oct. 13 and built on its Doc
lead-in. But the network first had to lose the show's original title, Lip Service.

That name was the choice of creator Dave Alan Johnson and Pax brass. However, the show's star, Deanne Bray (left), and the real Sue Thomas pointed out that it had a pejorative connotation in the deaf community; the show is about a deaf FBI agent whose lip-reading talent gets her assigned to an elite unit. Then there was the dictionary meaning, which suggests not being genuine, says Johnson. Sealing the case was the sexual connotation. At the same time, those reservations were being expressed, an Internet search on the name yielded a pornographic Web site. Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye
it became.—J.E.

Old series beat Series

CBS and NBC aired repeats against the World Series on Fox last week, a first, said network execs. The thinking this time: Why not burn off some repeats and save more originals for later in the season? They did better than that. The repeats of Friends on NBC and CSI on CBS actually beat the game, and by a fairly wide margin.

After five games, Fox was on track to air the lowest-viewed World Series ever. Currently, the least-watched is the 2000 Yankees/Mets "subway" series. Fox has been airing make-goods throughout the games and says it expects to handle all shortfalls within the series.—S.M.

Date uncertain

Rep. Billy Tauzin may be talking tough about imposing a hard 2006 deadline for reclaiming TV stations' analog spectrum, but the House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman's threat isn't panicking broadcasters. "Chairman Tauzin is wedded to a date certain" and 2006 will be that date in next year's legislation, aide Jessica Wallace told an Association of Maximum Service Television crowd last week. But the idea is opposed by many committee members, fearing a consumer backlash. Should Tauzin nonetheless push through the deadline, broadcasters would let him take the heat for consigning 300 million sets and VCRs to the junk pile. "We're already facing digital-service deadlines,"one lobbyist said. "We'll let him deal with the fallout if he wants to cut off analog service."—B.M.

EEO on docket

New minority- and gender-recruiting rules for broadcasters and cable systems are expected to be approved at the FCC's Nov. 7 meeting. Two previous versions of the rules were struck down by federal judges. The commission is likely to require stations and cable systems to provide job notices to any organization that requests them and post openings on state trade association Web sites.—B.M.