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Execution taping is an open issue

Whether the execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh would be videotaped remained an open question at press time. On Friday, federal officials won a Philadelphia federal appeals court stay, pending further review, of a Pittsburgh judge's order that the execution be videotaped. The lower court's order was in response to a request by defense lawyers on a separate capital case, hoping to use the tape to argue that the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment. A video camera was already scheduled to be at the execution, transmitting to Oklahoma City, where bombing survivors and survivors of victims were expected to watch. As of Friday, McVeigh had forgone appeal. Appellate hearings were to take place later Friday or Saturday. McVeigh's lawyers said Friday that their client, who had earlier called for his execution to be televised, had no objections to taping.

Discovery Health chief quits

The executive shuffle continues at Discovery Networks, where husband-and-wife executives have stepped down since March. Discovery Health Network's Executive Vice President and General Manager Kathy Quattrone resigned Thursday, effective at the end of June.

Her husband, Mike Quattrone, left Discovery Network in March after John Ford was brought in as head of Discovery's content group. Discovery Health Vice President of Production Donald Thomm has stepped in as interim general manager.

Quattrone said only that she is leaving to relocate permanently to Maryland's Eastern Shore and wouldn't comment further.

3Com shuts cable modems line

Battered networking company 3Com is halting production of its cable modem line, blaming "an industrywide glut of consumer cable and DSL modems that has driven down prices and margins." Slow volume and hot competition have driven gross margins on cable modems to as low as 10%, and wholesale prices have fallen from $200 or so to about $130 and, in some cases, less than $100. Research firm Gartner Dataquest says 3Com is the second-largest cable modem manufacturer, behind Motorola Broadband, but still couldn't see profits in the near term. Sales for the quarter ended this month will be $450 million to $475 million, the company said, far lower than the $550 million to $600 million predicted three months ago.

Fox lets affiliates shift kids block

After months of talks, Fox plans to let its affiliates shift the network's afternoon kids-programming block up one hour to 2-4 p.m. But there's a price: Stations will give back additional ad inventory (details yet to be determined). The shift takes effect this fall. Sources also say that the network has told stations that, if Fox Family Worldwide is sold (it's currently on the block), the kids block will be jettisoned altogether. Affiliates would welcome the move because the kids business is terrible and does not fit well with the rest of their schedules, targeted to adult audiences. If the kid's block does go away, though, Fox has the option to program the time period for eight years, and network officials confirm that they want to develop adult programming for it.

Lifetime's new brand

Bill Brand has been named senior vice president of reality programming at Lifetime Television. Previously VH1's vice president of programming and production, Brand will now oversee such programs as Intimate Portrait, the upcoming WomenDocs and Beyond Chance.

Karmazin's big plans for local sales

Viacom President Mel Karmazin intends to take cross-platform ad sales, through its Viacom-plus unit, to the local level. Speaking at a Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown conference in New York, he said he would meet with the heads of Viacom subsidiaries Infinity Broadcasting and CBS Television Stations to discuss packaging radio, TV and outdoor advertising in local markets.

The recent $300 million Procter & Gamble cross-platform ad deal, he said, will look "small" in comparison to the company's total revenue from cross-platform sales for 2001. Viacom-plus has hired Lisa Kraynak as vice president of marketing.

Anstrom joins Comcast board

MSO Comcast Corp. named Weather Channel CEO Decker Anstrom to its board of directors. The former president of the NCTA and soon-to-be president of Weather Channel owner Landmark Communications will serve as an outside director.

PBS moves Masterpiece Theatre to Mondays

PBS plans a major schedule overhaul, including the shift of Masterpiece Theatre from Sunday nights to Mondays at 9 p.m. The marquee PBS series has aired on Sundays for 30 years.