Fast Track

The NAB, Sans the Sands

Some shuttle-bus fans may be put out, but the NAB
has decided to confine its confab (April 5-10) to the Las Vegas Convention Center
this year, rather than divide itself among the LVCC and Sands Expo Center as in the past.

Cable 2002, by the Numbers

Lifetime Television
ended 2002 as the highest-rated cable network, while ESPN
claimed the lion's share of the year's top programs.

Lifetime averaged a 2.0 household rating, according to Turner Broadcast
analysis of Nielsen Media Research
data, on par with its 2001 marks.

was second behind Lifetime with a 1.8 average, 13% over the year before, while USA Network
and Nickelodeon
tied for third with a 1.7 average.

Cartoon Network
occupied the fifth spot with a 1.6 rating, down 6% from last year.

ESPN, with a 1.5 prime time average, boasted 18 of the year's 20 highest-rated cable programs. The network's Sunday-night football games averaged a stellar 7.4 rating, up 17% from the 2001 season. ESPN's Sept. 8 telecast of a Houston Texans-Dallas Cowboys match-up grabbed a 9.6 rating, the year's best for cable.

Fox News Channel's ratings surged 20% in 2002, making it the only cable news channel to build off post-Sept. 11 ratings gains. Fox News finished the year with a 1.2 average, while CNN
slipped 10% to a 0.9 rating. MSNBC's ratings dropped 33% to a 0.4 and CNBC's 0.2 rating was off 50% from 2001.

MTV, buoyed by its hits The Osbournes and The Real World, increased ratings 13% to a 0.9 household average.

TBS Superstation
produced the year's highest-rated original movie, a 5.9 for the June 9 debut of action thriller Atomic Twister.

Joe and Jane Sixpack, Apply Here

The average citizen will get a chance to advise FCC
Chairman Michael Powell
and his colleagues on the consumer impact of DTV, broadband availability and low-power FM radio under a rechartered Consumer Advisory Committee. The panel also will focus on stopping consumer fraud and improving American Indians' access to telecom.

Applicants shouldn't be that average: The commission wants recognized experts in their fields who are members of public or private organizations. Members must commit to a two-year term and attend three one-day meetings in Washington each year. Application deadline is Jan. 31.

Bottom Lines

Richard DuMont
is the new vice president of advertising and promotion at Twentieth Television, upped from executive director. He will oversee all print advertising and Twentieth's Web site . ...

introduced a new Saturday-night lineup anchored by two acquired dramas, Crossing Jordan and Third Watch, pairing them with its original forensic series, Cold Case Files.

Both acquisitions are rich propositions for the network. A&E picked up off-network rights to Crossing Jordan in November, paying $800,000 per episode for the NBC Enterprises drama. It paid $700,000 for Third Watch. A&E finished the year with a 1.0 prime time average, down 17% from 2001, according to Nielsen. …

Infinity Broadcasting
will face charges in early February—brought by the National Labor Relations Board
in an administrative court—that two of its Detroit radio stations, WWJ(AM)
and WXYT-FM, restricted union access to facilities for the union's bargaining unit meetings. The NLRB issued the complaint brought by the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Infinity had no comment.

Aaron Around the World

CNN is ready to share Aaron Brown's quirky prime time newscast with its international network. Beginning today, CNN's NewsNight with Aaron Brown, which airs weeknights at 10 p.m. ET, will be simulcast on CNN International. CNN already simulcasts Lou Dobbs Moneyline and Larry King Live.