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B&C Eye

Synergy, take II

MTV's Unplugged
is apparently music to Paramount Domestic Television's ears. The syndicator, which like MTV is owned by Viacom, is looking to bring the concert series into weekend syndication in fall 2002. Unplugged, which has featured such artists as Sting, Nirvana and Elton John, is "especially attractive" in the current economic climate because the cost of repurposing is low. Studios USA's Crossing Over with John Edward
already has a similar arrangement—much of the material airs first on Sci Fi before its syndication run. At this point, it's unclear which Unplugged
sessions would be part of the syndication deal. MTV is rolling out new episodes on MTV2 shortly. Insiders say Paramount is just waiting for MTV to sign off, with the two still trying to work out what percentage of ad time each would get in the show.

Saved by synergy

It was synergy to the rescue for two canceled syndicated series. Word is TNN has picked up off-syndication episodes of Judge Mills Lane
and Real TV, shows produced by co-owned Paramount Domestic Television. TNN viewers will also get 65 episodes of Judge Mills Lane
that never aired last season in syndication. Paramount Domestic chief Joel Berman says it is possible that production could start again on either of the shows if they perform well on TNN.

Access review

The FCC plans to launch a review of the cable industry's program-access rules at the commission's Oct. 11 meeting. The rules, which expire in October 2002, require cable operators that own programming networks to also sell that programming to competitors like satellite TV. The cable industry wants the rules to sunset, but rivals—cable overbuilders and satellite providers—argue the rules are necessary to ensure competition. The commissioners will ask only for public input on the rules and won't indicate any preference on whether they should stay or go. The FCC also is planning to decide whether public TV stations may use part of the DTV spectrum for commercial purposes.

Unconventional ground rules

Washington news bureau chiefs and Pentagon officials met as a group Friday to discuss the media rules of engagement as the press begins covering "Operation Enduring Freedom." Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Torie Clarke said Friday's pow-wow at the Pentagon was mostly for "fact-finding" and said the Defense Department is just beginning to work out the process. "We need to figure out together how to give reporters the access and means they need to do their job, while protecting the security and safety of our men and women in uniform," said Clarke, a former spokeswoman for the National Cable and Telecommunications Association. Clarke said Pentagon press officials last week also met with pool reporters to discuss the issue. The meetings will continue as this "very unconventional war" progresses, Clarke said.

Western wanes

There's less and less show at the Western Show. Turner Broadcasting System is the latest exhibitor to cancel plans to exhibit at the annual convention in Anaheim, Calif., next month. Although the cable network group, which includes TNT, TBS, CNN, Turner Classic Movies and Cartoon Network, let a deadline pass last month for getting some deposits back, Turner folks have now decided to keep their exhibition booths in storage.

All the major industry trade shows are seeing exhibitor defections. Western has also seen pullouts by the likes of MTV Networks, USA Network, A&E, Lifetime, Comedy Central, Scripps Networks and Oxygen.