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Fast Track

Bird on a Wire

Comcast and the home of Big Bird (Sesame Workshop) are teaming on a kids cable channel. The commercial-free diginet would also be brought to you by the letters P, B, and S. Comcast and crew were being closed-beaked about the project, but it may use a PBS-style sponsorship-credit model, much like another kids cable programmer, Disney Channel.

Steady Eddie

After much palace intrigue, the king is very much alive. As we predicted last week, NAB
longtime President Eddie Fritts
will get a two-year extension on his contract, a move that could keep him in his post until April 2006, trade group members confirm.

One caveat: A provision negotiated by the executive committee would require him to vacate the throne Sept. 1, 2005, if his successor is in place before his new deal expires. Fritts will, however, get a consulting gig that starts whenever he leaves his current post. It lasts through April 2008.

Get the Picture?

A spokesman for Sen. John Kerry
says the Democratic presidential hopeful was speaking in "broad philosophical terms" in a C-SPAN interview in which he seemed to suggest he didn't support a crackdown on cable indecency. The Kerry camp was trying to explain how that apparent stand squared with Kerry's vote in March, when he supported a Senate indecency-bill amendment that applied broadcast indecency standards to cable and satellite. The spokesman said Kerry was seeking a middle ground.

TBS Supersizes Ad

Look! Up on the small screen! It's an ad, it's a show, it's Superman! Yes, Superman ... and Jerry Seinfeld. The line between ad and program continues to blur with a new "marketing partnership" between American Express
and TBS. TBS will air a four-minute "Webisode" from American Express's "The Adventures of Seinfeld and Superman," an online extension of the popular "buddy comedy" TV ad campaign that teamed the comedian and animated superhero.

Get With the Program

In its first major programming move, NBC Universal Domestic Television
has decided to shut down dating show The 5th Wheel, which aired mostly in late-night time slots. The decision caught the show's production company, Renegade 83, by surprise.

No surprises at The WB, which is engaged in heavy lifting to get its fall schedule right. The network is shifting half-hour comedies Blue Collar TV
and Drew Carey's Green Screen Show from Wednesday at 8 and 8:30 p.m., respectively, to Thursday nights in the same slot. It's making way for youth-targeted drama The Mountain, which moves from Thursday into the Wednesday 8-9 slot.

The advertiser-bankrolled Family Friendly
program initiative has seven shows on prime time this fall with the addition of three new shows, one each on ABC, NBC, and CBS. The group has backed Mel Gibson's Savages on ABC, about Gibson's real-life experiences raising five boys; NBC's Father of the Pride,
the computer-generated series about Las Vegas staples Siegfried & Roy's white lions; and CBS's Clubhouse, about a bat boy for the Empires, a New York baseball team that wears pinstripes.


USDTV is on the air in Salt Lake City, Albuquerque, N.M., and Las Vegas. ("The Multicasting Challenge," 6/7, page 44).

KABB San Antonio is owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group. (Market Focus, 6/7, page 17)