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In the Loop

FCC Puts Off an Auction

With little public explanation, the FCC has postponed its February auction of spectrum designated for a new terrestrial competitor to satellite TV until Aug. 6. Agency court filings in a pending legal battle over the auction plan go a long way toward explaining the delay, however.

In its latest update to the court, the FCC said its own pending review of petitions for reconsideration filed by several vested parties, including would-be bidder MDS America, the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association and opponents of the new service EchoStar, won't be complete until first quarter 2003, too late to be ready for a February auction.

Northpoint Technologies, which first petitioned the FCC to create the terrestrial service, is the lead plaintiff in the court fight and is seeking to kill the auction. Judges are holding Northpoint's court fight in abeyance, pending the FCC's reexamination.—B.M.

Hogan's HDTV Heroes

When we got the release that hi-def producer HDNet had made a deal with Paramount for the rights to a bunch of shows produced in HDTV—That's Life, Wolf Lake, etc.—but also "including conversion of Hogan's Heroes
for HDTV broadcast," we had to ask. Why Hogan's Heroes?

Let us count the ways or, better yet, we'll let HDNet co-founder Mark Cuban do it (he responded by e-mail):

"1. Because it's co-owned by Rysher Entertainment, which I also own.

2. It's a classic.

3. It was filmed in 35mm and we were able to come up with all the elements to allow for a complete conversion.

4. In our tests it looked awesome in HD and, when we broadcast the first episode to get viewer feedback, we got back more than a thousand e-mails saying people wanted more."—J.E.

Nightline Toast? Not Yet, Anyway

anchor Ted Koppel, whose show's fate was in doubt this past year during ABC's attempt to woo David Letterman, customarily gives a holiday gift to the show's cast and crew. One year it was an alarm clock, another a Hickory Farms feast.

This year's gift—a bottle of wine—had a custom label: "Nightline
Survivor 2002 Private Reserve, with a gift card addressed: "With thanks to another Nightline

See You at NATPE, Maybe in a Taxi

A year ago at the NATPE conference, there were lots of complaints about the long wait for elevators at the Venetian in Las Vegas, where most of the big distributors had fled after deciding to abandon the main programming bazaar on the floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

That shouldn't be a problem next month in New Orleans. But you'd better bring your walking shoes or extra cab fare to the show. Syndicators not on the convention center floor (most, if not all, of the big ones) are scattered in numerous hotels around the Big Easy.

One source in contact with two dozen or so distributors says no more than two of the group are at the same hotel. Twentieth is at the Fairmont, while Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution is at the Wyndham Canal. But all the syndicators holed up in hotels will have a directory/kiosk in a corner of the convention center, which NATPE has dubbed "Hollywood Plaza," telling attendees what hotel and suite they are in.—S.M.

Quello's Band of Brothers

Mark your perpetual calendars: The RSVPs for former FCC Commissioner and Chairman Jim Quello's 100th birthday party are already piling up. The fête is set for April 21, 2014, at the Army Navy Club in Washington; everyone who's still someone will be there. The event will double as a salute to congresssional veterans of World War II. Acceptances include Sens. Ted Stevens, Fritz Hollings, Daniel Inouye, John Dingell, broadcasters Stanley Hubbard of Hubbard Broadcasting and Clear Channel's Lowry Mays. Good authority has Mays volunteering to bring fuzzy navels (Quello's favorite libation) and Viagra; the veteran commissioner responded: "Bringing me Viagra is like putting a new flagpole on a condemned building." Fellow former Chairman and Wiley, Rein & Fielding partner Dick Wiley will emcee.—J.E.