Fast Track

Chernin for Kerry

News Corp. President and COO Peter Chernin has endorsed Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, even though News Corp.'s Fox News Channel and Chernin's boss Rupert Murdoch are seen by liberals as world-class liberal-bashers. Appearing on Your World With Neil Cavuto on Fox News, Chernin lauded Kerry's ideas about education and his "global focus." Said Chernin, "I believe that Mr. Kerry can do a good job moving our economy forward."

The Amazin' Vanishin' Mets

New York Mets fans were still striking out at press time, as Time Warner Cable
sparred with Cablevision
over the cost of carriage for regional sports networks Fox Sports New York
and Madison Square Garden Network.

Time Warner pulled the channels from area systems July 31 amid a contract squabble, leaving some 2 million subscribers Metless, except for a few games on WPIX
and Fox Broadcasting's WNYW, which has the broadcast game-of-the-week contract.

In an effort to poach disgruntled Mets fans from Time Warner, DBS giant DirecTV hosted a beer-joint viewing party for Wednesday night's game and placed ads in 10 local papers, including fellow News Corp.
subsidiary, the New York Post, proposing satellite as a more attractive alternative to cable.

reported a 186% jump in new subscribers in 2002, when Cablevision's cable system got into a similar dispute with the New York Yankees channel, YES.

Cablevision wants Time Warner Cable to plunk down about $2 a subscriber for the two channels—an 18% price increase. An extra sticking point is that Cablevision wants the cable system to add two local Metro channels as part of the deal.

Time Warner's not interested in Metro and says the increase is too high, especially because the Mets might bolt MSG/Fox Sports New York after the team's contract expires after next season. The sports channels also carry the New York area's three hockey teams, the NBA's Knicks, WNBA's Liberty and the pro soccer team, the Metrostars. MSG calls it offer "fair and reasonable."

The Mets' pennant hopes are fading fast, so local reaction seems muted. Likewise, hockey's Rangers and the Knicks were also-rans in the past season. But they all have rabid fans. "I'd absolutely consider getting DirecTV over this if this were the Knicks [season]," says avid New York sports fan Jon Peters, a caterer. "This fight is absurd."

The two companies have also been trading lawsuits over AMC, the Cablevision-owned cable channel that now takes commercials and airs more-recent titles. TWC says that violates its carriage agreement; Cablevision denies it. Those contacts aren't up for renewal anytime soon, but there's obviously no love lost between the two companies these days.

Fully Programmable

Nielsen Media Research
launched its local people meters as planned last Thursday in Chicago, the nation's No. 3 TV market, without the uproar caused earlier in New York and Los Angeles by groups and some media companies that think the LPM undercounts minorities.

The Apprentice's Ereka Vetrini
will be Tony Danza's daytime sidekick in Buena Vista's upcoming syndicated talker, The Tony Danza Show, premiering Sept. 13. "She just pops on camera," says Janice Marinelli, president of Buena Vista Television.

Sports broadcasting lost a legend Aug 3. when former New York Mets broadcaster Bob Murphy, 79, died after a bout with cancer. Murphy was a Mets radio or TV voice from the team's inception in 1962 until his retirement last season.


Dennis FitzSimons, now Tribune Co. chairman and CEO, brought in Scott Koondel as national sales director of Tribune's WPIX, New York. A profile of Paramount's Koondel (Fifth Estater, 8/2, page 18) credited Viacom executive Dennis Swanson.