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Fast Track

RTNDA Questions Secrecy Rules

The Radio-Television News Directors Association wants the Department of Homeland Security to revise rules so newsies can get the information they (and the public) need.

The group says new rules put a "shroud of secrecy" over potential soft spots in the nation's infrastructure. "A public kept informed is a public kept safe," RTNDA complains.

Homeland Security's program encourages the private sector to share business-sensitive information—power-grid blueprints, for instance—by providing assurances the information will not be made public. RTNDA understands the need for secrecy but argues that the rules as written are overly broad.

Fully Programmable

Ever wanted to just chuck your job and open a bed & breakfast or start your own restaurant? Be careful what you wish for. Scripps' Fine Living, a lifestyle network reaching 21 million subs is offering Your Reality Checked Wednesday night at 10. The series shows the downside of dream ambitions, such as owning a restaurant. ...

ESPN and the National Hockey League signed a one-year, 40-game deal for TV rights to the 2004-05 season, with options to renew through 2007. ESPN has carried the NHL since 1992. The year-by-year deal reflects the league's uncertainties in the face of a possible strike. Last year, ESPN and ESPN2 carried 70 games.

At the same time, the NHL and NBC announced a two-year deal to annually televise seven regular-season games and six Stanley Cup playoff contests, starting in January. In addition, NBC will air Games 3-7 of the Stanley Cup Finals in prime time. ...

Yogi Bush and Boo Boo Cheney drilling for oil in Jellystone Park? Yep. Guantanamo Bay as a Club Med, only with heinous torture? Yes, that too. Then there is "Weekend at Bush's," the story of President George W. Bush choking to death on a pretzel and being dragged around à la Weekend At Bernie's by Vice President Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice. Wow. Camp Chaos Presents VH1 Illustrated, a half-hour containing nine or 10 animated shorts, will debut at 11:30 p.m. on May 24, followed by another new episode each night at 11:30 for the rest of the week. VH1 says this is the first TV series that started as a Web site. …

Longtime children's TV activist Peggy Charren wrote FCC Chairman Michael Powell last week asking the commission to stop censoring the media in the name of protecting children. Charren, founder of Action for Children's Television and now a board member of the nonprofit Center for Creative Voices in Media, joined with that group's executive director, Jonathan Rintels, in branding the FCC's indecency crackdown overly broad, pervasive, and contrary to the public interest.

While Charren is a longtime V-chip proponent and has long pushed broadcasters to slate more kid-friendly fare, she has never advocated a national nanny role for government.

The FCC! Live From South Dakota

The FCC's traveling localism and diversity probe comes to Rapid City, S.D., May 26, from 5:30-9 p.m. Everybody's meeting over at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. It's one in a series of public meetings that are themselves part of a broader localism inquiry pledged by FCC Chairman Michael Powell last August.

When Barbara Leaves

Elizabeth Vargas will be the news co-anchor of ABC's 20/20, replacing Barbara Walters when the show resumes in the fall. Vargas has been seen as a real comer at ABC News, where she has been a correspondent for 20/20, anchor for 20/20 Downtown, and an anchor for World News Saturday. She also has frequently sat in for World News Tonight
anchor Peter Jennings.