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Fast Track

NFL Net Gets Charter Cable

NFL Network has scored a distribution deal with Charter Communications, marking its first completed cable pass. The network, launched in November, already has broad carriage on DirecTV, its exclusive out-of-market carrier, but cable has been a tougher sell. That is in part because NFL Network is seeking broader distribution than on thinly distributed sports tiers. On Charter, the network will live primarily on digital basic. Charter counts about 6.3 million subscribers and has a digital penetration slightly above one-third, which is the national average.

RTNDA Petitions High Court

The Radio-Television News Directors Association and major national news organizations filed a petition with the Supreme Court as intervenors in the case of Mohammed K. Bellahouel, a Florida man with alleged connections to the 9/11 hijackers who is appealing his incarceration, arguing that his First Amendment rights have been violated. RTNDA and the news outlets argue that the Justice Department also violated the free-speech rights of the press and the public.

News Out There

Michael Weisman, renowned sports producer who has won more than 20 Emmy Awards, is executive producer of NBC Enterprises' new syndicated Jane Pauley Show. ...

NAB has tapped Oprah Winfrey for this year's Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes "significant and lasting contributions to the broadcasting industry." Winfrey will be saluted at the NAB convention in Las Vegas April 19. …

Victoria Riskin resigned as president of the Writers Guild of America's western division last week, after a review found that she was ineligible to run for the presidency she had won for a second time in September 2003. Vice President Charles Holland becomes president effective immediately. Changes in the WGA's leadership come as WGA prepares to negotiate new, thorny contracts with Hollywood studios The current guild contract expires May 2. ...

Tying up a loose end from its acquisition of Fox Family Channel, Disney is rebranding its Fox Kids programming blocks, renaming them Jetix. Programming doesn't change. ...

Viacom cut a deal for carriage of its basic cable and broadcast stations by DBS service DirecTV. The deal continues carriage of all of MTV Networks channels already on DirecTV, and BET. It also covers retransmission consent for the analog signals of CBS and UPN O&O stations and the a high-definition feed of CBS coverage of Super Bowl XXXVIII. …

Fox Entertainment Group and JetBlue Airways will team up on a new in-flight entertainment service, offering passengers Fox first-run movies, TV shows, sports and news programming plus other original entertainment developed by Fox. They're also experimenting with an in-seat credit-card payment system. Fox and JetBlue will begin testing the service this spring. The airline already provides free cable to passengers.

Norville Joining MSNBC

MSNBC last week confirmed that Inside Edition host Deborah Norville is joining the channel. The former Today show co-anchor will host Deborah Norville Tonight, an interview and news show, at 9 p.m. ET beginning Jan. 21. Norville will also continue hosting Inside Edition.


The 2003 Super Bowl had a 40.71 Nielsen household rating. A chart prepared by the Television Bureau of Advertising (B&C, 1/5, page 13) was incorrect.

WMAQ-TV Chicago's 10 p.m. news is anchored by Warner Saunders and Allison Rosati, with sports by Mark Schanowski and weather by Brant Miller. The morning anchor team was wrongly identified as the late-night anchors (1/5, page 5).