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Fast Track

It's Official

New broadcast ownership rules go into effect Sept. 4, as editors of the Federal Register
made good on plans to publish the rules last Tuesday. The FCC
stipulated in June that the rules would go into effect one month after publication in the register of government actions. The publication also triggers other deadlines: petitions for the FCC to reconsider all or part of the rules are due Sept. 4 as well and appeals for federal judges to strike them down are due Oct. 4. Of course, separate efforts on Capitol Hill to rewrite the FCC's June 2 changes are still expected to move forward. They could stall implementation of some of the new rules, which raise the national TV ownership cap to 45% of television households, make it easier to form smaller market duopolies, and relaxed restrictions on local broadcast/newspaper crossownership.

Whacks at Mag Rack

Rainbow Media Holdings' video-on-demand service, Mag Rack, has axed staffers and will now farm out most of its programming. The company reportedly cut twelve staffers, mostly in production, although Rainbow Media would not comment on the number. GM Matt Strauss
remains with the service. Mag Rack is a free VOD service consisting of specialty programs on topics from yoga to motorcycles. In-house producers had been creating most of the content. The cuts are apparently not related to the recent accounting irregularities at Rainbow's AMC Networks, where 14 executives were dismissed. Mag Rack is available to about 2 million subscribers.

Ding, Dong, Peacock Calling

and cosmetic company Avon
have announced a marketing deal featuring a plotline in which a character from soap opera Passions (Jessica Bennett) will become an Avon Lady. Technically, she becomes a sales representative for 'mark,' a new Avon business that targets younger women. NBC calls the deal "groundbreaking" in that the Passions storyline was altered so that the character can explain the benefits of becoming a 'mark' representative. Three episodes of the show will feature the 'mark' storyline, along with various cosmetic products that will appear in the show leading up to a 'mark' launch ad campaign that will kick off on NBC Aug. 11.

2Q News

Acme Communications, the WB
station group founded by The WB network head Jamie Kellner, narrowed its pre-tax operating loss by 51% to $535,000 on a 25% revenue gain to $11.5 million in the second quarter. Commenting on the results, Kellner said: "While second-quarter advertising demand remained soft, our developing station group was still able to deliver significant gains in both absolute-dollar revenue and market share." Acme owns nine stations in mid-sized and smaller markets. …

Granite Broadcasting
reported a 13% revenue decline for the second quarter to $28.5 million, while the company's year-to-year operating loss widened 8% to $1.3 million. The revenue decline was due in part to the disposition last year of KNTV(TV) San Francisco. Same-station revenues were up 5% the company said. Granite CEO Don Cornwell
said third-quarter revenue will be down between 2.5% and 6.5 % due to lack of political dollars, which gave the company a 14% revenue boost last year in the quarter. Excluding political, third-quarter revenue should come in at between flat and up 4%, Cornwell said.

A Boon to Boomtown?

To help build Boomtown's audience, NBC will run repeats of its critically acclaimed sophomore show in its new Friday 10 p.m. time period starting Aug. 8. "By bringing Boomtown
back in August, we are giving viewers a chance to catch up with last season's storylines and sample the series that critics have named the best drama on television," said NBC's Jeff Zucker. Boomtown's second season premieres Sept. 26.