Fast Track

We're Here, We're Queer

MTV Networks is launching a gay network, scheduled to debut February 2005. The network, christened Logo, is designed to go on digital cable tiers that won't reach as wide an audience as analog basic networks. Logo will be a gay lifestyle channel with less emphasis on sex than Queer as Folk and The L Word.

The Fix Is In

Fox Network tells the FCC it will fix its affiliation contracts to "clarify" that stations have "great latitude" to preempt shows they deem too racy. Fox says stations already have that right, but it wants to make sure regulators get the message. The indecency crackdown in Washington has given affils new ammunition in their fight for greater control of programming. But Fox says it still opposes affiliates preempting network programming in favor of more profitable syndicated shows.

By the Numbers

Station, syndication, and broadcast-network ad revenue were all up for the first quarter of 2004, according to the Television Bureau of Advertising. The total broadcast ad figure for the quarter was $11.2 billion, up 10.2%. Syndication was the biggest gainer, with a 16.7% bump to $947.8 million. Network TV was second, up 10.4% to $6.2 billion; followed by local TV, up 8.7% to $4.1 billion.

High Noon

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps took aim at the media with both barrels last week. He called media dereg "dangerous," said news and entertainment have deteriorated, charged that public-interest protections have "weakened and withered," and warned that TV stations' service to local communities means more than blood drives and fundraisers.

So how did the agency's localism hearing go in Rapid City, S.D.? FCC Chairman Michael Powell was a no-show. He was said to be dining privately with President George W. Bush.

Get With the Program

Looks like the Peacock is mating with a swan. NBC is casting for its new unscripted show The Biggest Loser, in which eight severely overweight people try to shed as many pounds as possible without plastic surgery. Think of it as Fox's The Swan or ABC's Extreme Makeover—without the barely noticeable scars.

TBS is relaunching itself as the "very funny" network June 4. It's looking to counter-program the increasingly sitcom-light broadcast networks with big-ticket comedies like Sex and the City, Friends, and Seinfeld, plus theatricals and originals. The relaunch includes a new logo, tagline, and image spots. The logo, already appearing on network stationery, features a lower case "tbs" resting atop a semicircle representing a smile.

In the search for eternal youth, Dick Clark's American Bandstand will get an American Idol makeover at the hands of Simon Fuller's 19 Entertainment. The show targets early network prime time, with 8 p.m. Saturday a good candidate. The new Bandstand will run an hour. Hosts in different cities—New York, Miami, Chicago—will talk about what's hot in their area.

Fox's College Try

Fox Sports Net is morphing its regional digital suite into three college-sports channels. Now dubbed Fox College Sports, the channels will air regional action from the Atlantic, Central, and West regions of the country. The diginets are already part of digital sports tiers of nine cable operators, and Fox hopes to ink deals with DBS carriers EchoStar and DirecTV, the latter controlled by Fox parent News Corp.


Two of Jack Williams's early jobs were at KLIB Guymon, Okla., and at TelePromTer in Liberal, Kan. (May 24, Fifth Estater).