Fast Track

Sony Clears Behrendt Show

Sony Pictures Television says its new relationship/talk series for fall, The Greg Behrendt Show, has been cleared in 23 of the top 25 markets and 80% of the U.S.

In addition to all 26 Tribune stations, which are partners on the show, clearances include WDIV Detroit (Post-Newsweek), KTVK Phoenix (Belo), WOIO Cleveland (Raycom) and WYTU Milwaukee (Weigel), as well as Sinclair and Hubbard Broadcasting stations.

Behrendt is the author and comedian who co-wrote the bestsellers He's Just Not That Into You and It's Called a Breakup Because It's Broke. He will dispense practical advice “in a humorous yet empowering and uplifting manner” on the one-hour strip, Sony says.—Jim Benson

Disney Gives More to iTunes

Football fans can now watch their games on the go. Disney will boost its iPod offerings, available on Web site iTunes, to include programming from ESPN and ABC Sports, along with more content from ABC Entertainment and Touchstone Television, ABC Family, ABC News, Buena Vista Television, Disney Channel, SOAPnet and Walt Disney Feature Animation.

ABC becomes the first company to provide sports programming to the iTunes Music Store. All of the episodes can be purchased for $1.99 each. The first sports content available will be condensed versions of ABC Sports' four BCS Bowl Games, the Fiesta, Sugar, Orange and Rose Bowls.—Anne Becker

DirecTV To Get FX Hits Early

DirecTV is getting a little help from the News Corp. family to bolster its video-on-demand (VOD) slate.

In a deal similar to the one DirecTV cut with NBC and its cable networks, Fox Broadcasting and FX will allow the DBS company to add some of their best shows to a VOD system that employs subscriber DVRs.

The difference is that VOD deals have so far put programming on VOD only after the shows air on their home networks. In this deal, FX will give episodes of such shows as The Shield and Rescue Me to DirecTV before they air on the network.

The Fox deal is more limited, giving DirecTV episodes of 24 and Prison Break only after they air on the broadcast network. DirecTV will charge $2.99 each for a “first look” at the FX shows 24-48 hours before they air. The DBS service will charge the now common 99¢ for Fox shows after they air.—John M. Higgins

FCC's Copps, Tate Sworn In

New Republican FCC Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate and Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps were sworn in by Chairman Kevin Martin last week.

Copps was renominated to a second term ending in 2010, and Tate is filling out the term of former Chairman Michael Powell, which extends to 2007.

—John Eggerton

Cable America Challenges Licenses

Cable America, a small cable operator with systems in Missouri, Arizona and California, is petitioning the Federal Communications Commission to deny license renewals to two Springfield, Mo., TV stations.

The action comes as Cable America is embroiled in a nasty retransmission-consent negotiation with the two outlets, Nexstar Broadcasting's KSFX and Mission Broadcasting-owned KOLR.

Cable America claims that the stations are being operated as a duopoly by Nexstar in violation of FCC ownership rules.

“Nexstar and Mission, through a complex web of contracts and operating arrangements, have engaged in a subterfuge that violates federal law,” the operator says in a letter to the commission.

Nexstar COO Duane Lammers calls the petition an “attempted extortion,” adding that the companies have fully disclosed—and received FCC approval for—all of the company's joint operations with Mission stations.

—Allison Romano

Tostitos Is Winner In Bowl Battle

Tostitos did not get a trophy in college football's Bowl Championship Series last week, but the chipmaker was the most valuable player. As one of the four main sponsors of the four BCS telecasts on ABC, Tostitos gained $30.4 million worth of exposure from signage and graphics, according to Image Impact, a Kansas City, Mo.-based company that tracks the value of sponsorships in sporting events.

According to its tracking, during the Fiesta Bowl, Tostitos earned $26.4 million in value from 520 “detections” of its brand on signs, field graphics and emblems on player uniforms. Orange Bowl sponsor FedEx earned $29.6 million in total value, including $25.8 million in exposure during the triple-overtime game. Citi, the credit-card arm of CitiGroup, sponsored the national championship Rose Bowl and garnered $25.5 million in overall value. Nokia, which titled the Sugar Bowl, followed with $20.9 million.

The values are based on the cost of a 30-second spot in each game, which ranged from $400,000 to $800,000.


Stewart To Host Oscar Show

The selection of Jon Stewart has brought to an end the search for a host for the 78th Academy Awards, which airs March 5 on ABC.

Although Stewart has twice hosted the Grammy Awards (in 2001 and 2002), this will be his first time handing out the film kudos.

The host of The Daily Show takes over the duties from Chris Rock, who reportedly was not asked back after last year. Rock came under fire prior to the show when he made controversial remarks about the event, including calling awards shows “idiotic.”

—Ben Grossman