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B&C Eye

Keeping the cap

Instead of a hearing on why broadcast regulations should come down, media companies on Tuesday face a hearing on why ownership limits and crossownership bans should stay put.

With new Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) in place, advocates for leaving the 35% national-audience broadcast ownership cap in place have a much more receptive audience than they would have with former Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.). Hollings recently penned an op-ed piece in the Washington Post
arguing against media concentration.

Viacom President and COO Mel Karmazin is one of the stars coming to Washington to change his mind. His pitch: With fragmented audiences, it makes no sense to maintain regulations from an old era. But Hollings is more likely to agree with Post-Newsweek Stations CEO Alan Frank, who will testify in favor of the 35% cap.—P.A.

Fringe-slot tug-of-war

Millionaire, Weakest Link
and Pyramid
have been gunning for the time slots now held down by the expected-to-depart Rosie O'Donnell Show. Not surprisingly, TV insiders say distributor Warner Bros. isn't giving up those precious fringe slots without a fight.

It looked like a revival of Let's Make a Deal
would be pushed as a Rosie
replacement. But sources now say Warner's Telepictures is farthest along on Matchmaker Mansion,
a 2002 reality strip that would put cameras on women living inside a mansion and chronicle their dating adventures. Neither Telepictures nor Warner Bros. would comment.—S.A.

Fox steps out

How do you promote when there's the stench of recession in the air? Take your promos to the people. Since many of their affiliates did not go to the Promax convention this year, Fox promotion executives will take their promo pitches for new series, including The Tick
(above) and 24,
on the road to regional cities this month. They start in Dallas on July 23, then go to Kansas City, Detroit, Baltimore, Orlando and Boise, Idaho.

"We are going to meet with the stations face to face to get them excited about the fall and see if we can help them," says Nick Belperio, Fox's promotions chief. "We typically meet with the affiliates every year right before Promax … but most stations cancelled their corporate travel. And nobody went to Promax."—J.S.

Capital DTV Plus or Bust

Geocast may have been a bust, but Capital Broadcasting and its DTV Plus subsidiary continues to get more serious about datacasting.

Beginning Aug. 15, viewers of WRAL-TV Raleigh, N.C., will be able to purchase PC HDTV tuner cards complete with a Silver Sensor antenna that will bring datacasting and HDTV to their PC. The package will be available for $399 at local retail outlets and from the TV station.—K.K.

Busy AT&T bankers

Comcast's abrupt bid for AT&T Broadband gave lots of investment bankers a rather surreal day last week.

AT&T had prearranged a "beauty contest" for Wall Streeters to pitch the telco on leading a planned initial public offering.

So, while AT&T Broadband's world was changing as Comcast President Brian Roberts outlined the terms of his $58 billion bid in Manhattan, bankers were lining up at AT&T's Basking Ridge, N.J., headquarters to tell AT&T execs the kind of hefty valuation AT&T could get in an IPO, which probably won't approach Comcast's bid. "We thought about telling them 'sell,' but I don't think we'll get the assignment," said one banker.—J.H.