Fast Track

Some Good, Some Bad for Pubcasters

A House appropriations subcommittee approved the administration's public-broadcasting budget at last. While it gave noncoms the advance funding they had sought, they didn't like some of the numbers that came up.

Noncoms will not get additional funds to help with the digital transition but may use up to $100 million from the $380 million '04 general appropriation. That, says noncom execs, represents a double hit.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting had asked for $410 million, plus $60 million for digital conversion. CPB will get $390 million in '05 but only $330 million in '06. The organization says, if it has to use the $100 million from its general fund in '04, that will mean a 26% cut in operating grants to stations. Full-committee markup is slated for June 25.

People Meeter

founder/CEO Robert Johnson
says suggestions that his network caters only to the 18-24 demo are bogus. At a speech to marketing company Starcom Investment Group
in Chicago, he disputed claims made at last week's NCTA show by TV One, a planned African-American–targeted cable net, that BET doesn't program to older black viewers. ...

Karey Burke, NBC
executive VP of development, is joining former ABC
President of Entertainment and veteran NBC programmer Jamie Tarses
to head up their own production company housed at NBC Studios. NBC signed them to a two-year deal. ...

veterans Mike Benson
and Marla Provencio
will share the network's top marketing and promotion job, which has been open since Steve Sohmer
departed in March. Titles for the two have yet to be determined because their deals are not yet completed. Also, Jodi Flicker
and Sharon Merle-Lieberman
will join The NBC Agency to develop new marketing partnerships for NBC and its sister cable networks, particularly Bravo.

Food & Drink

African-American youth see more alcohol ads than any other segment of the young population, according to study by the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth. Alcohol advertisers, it says, spent $11.7 million in 2002 to buy ads on the top 15 TV shows among African-American youth. …

Food Network
racked up its best prime ratings ever June 9-15 with its week of BBQ programming. It averaged a 0.7 rating, or 568,000 households. That represented a 33% audience boost over the same week last year.

We Like Cavemen

Discovery Channel
got a much needed lift June 15 with its latest big special, Walking With Cavemen. The two-hour show scored a 3.7 rating, helping Discovery to a 1.3 average and 1.6 million viewers in prime time for the week of June 9-15, according to Nielsen Media Research. Disney Channel
grabbed the best ratings for the week, notching a 2.2 average in prime with 2.6 million viewers. Helping boost that average was an Even Stevens movie that posted a 3.5 rating June 13. Among ad-supported cable nets, TNT
was tops with a 1.7 prime time average and 2.1 million viewers. Strong Law & Order ratings continue to fuel TNT's prime time marks.


Former NBC and ABC news man David Brinkley passed away on June 11. An article on page 9 of the June 16 edition misstated the date of his death.

Sopranos Will Have Year Six on HBO

HBO persuaded Sopranos
creator David Chase to bring the mob drama back for a sixth season. Production on the 10-episode season is slated to begin in early 2005. The Sopranos' fifth season, currently in production, is expected to premiere in March 2004.