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B&C Eye

Ferree ranging

The merger of the FCC's mass media and cable bureaus isn't scheduled to happen until Congress approves a reorganization plan early next year. But Cable Bureau chief Ken Ferree, who has been tapped to head the combined office, has already crossed industry boundaries on some of the key issues affecting broadcasters, including overseeing the group likely to rewrite ownership rules and managing the investigation of disputes between networks and affiliates. Ferree also has presided over a meeting of the new bureau's designated senior staff, say sources. The commissioners are expected to vote on the reorganization in January.—B.M.

NAB news

The Radio-Television News Directors Association—which had to cancel its annual convention—may join NAB for its April meeting in Las Vegas.

RTNDA leaders and vendors were already gathering in Nashville for their annual conference, scheduled to begin Sept. 12, but quickly canceled as flights were grounded and journalists had to scramble back to their newsrooms. RTNDA, which is hoping its cancellation insurance makes up for the lost revenue, passed on the opportunity to reschedule the conference in conjunction with NATPE in January, but sources say RTNDA believes NAB is a better fit and talks are ongoing. Sources at CNN Newsource, one of the anchor tenants in RTNDA's exhibit hall, indicated some enthusiasm for a merged conference.—D.T.

The re-cycle hums…

In the wake of CBS's successful highlight special with Carol Burnett—more than 30 million viewers, many in the key 18-49 demo—other networks are combing their libraries.

Insiders say ABC is developing highlight shows around Happy Days
and spin-off Laverne & Shirley, with several cast members participating. NBC is working on a number of clip specials, including ones based on The Cosby Show
and on Bob Hope specials. Under consideration at CBS: The Honeymooners. Fox is looking at shows that originally appeared on other networks.

"What we have all learned in the reality side of the business is to strike fast, and, after the success of Carol Burnett, we are all trying to strike fast," says NBC's Jeff Gaspin.—J.S.

First-rate fourth

While it's still a tough ad market out there, NBC and CBS both claim to have had their best fourth-quarter scatter markets ever in terms of dollar volume. NBC posted $300 million in scatter sales across all dayparts, more than $200 million in prime time, sources say. CBS sources say it did $260 million in scatter, with about $200 million in prime time. Much of that success, particularly for NBC, came at the expense of ABC, which had to devote a big chunk of fourth-quarter scatter inventory to make-goods. Another factor: A pile of money got shifted from the third quarter (terrorist-attack coverage) to the fourth quarter.—S.M.

More on San Fran

So here's the latest on San Francisco: While the situation is still fluid, all signs seem to be pointing to an NBC deal to buy Granite's KNTV(TV) for a price around $250 million, sources familiar with the situation said late Friday. Those sources expect a deal to happen this week. NBC's negotiations with Young Broadcasting for KRON-TV have been stalled for a while over price, with the group owner said to be holding out for more than $700 million still. Granite purchased KNTV in 1989 for a little more than $60 million, according to BIA. KNTV is set to take over NBC affiliation from KRON-TV in January.—S.M.