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Freston Fans Fooled by Ford

Frankly, it hadn't occurred to us that MTV Chairman Tom Freston and Harrison Ford (above) look much alike. But once they were standing in the same room at the MTV awards, dressed similarly, several people remarked on the resemblance, and a few were even fooled by it. The gray hair and similar build help. Eyewitnesses said that, at least twice during the evening, the confused actor was approached by people yelling, "Tom Freston."—J.M.H.

Bye Bye, Beantown

NBC Enterprises is shutting down Hearst-Argyle's production facility near Boston and moving production of several shows to elsewhere. The production of Rebecca's Garden, featuring Rebecca Kolls (right), will move to Detroit, where it will be produced by Scripps Howard. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People leader Kweisi Mfume's occasional show, The Remarkable Journey, will be produced by NBC Enterprises'Access Hollywood
production team. Production of Wild Moments, hosted by Jack Hubley, also will move, but the new producer has not been determined. NBC Enterprises and Hearst-Argyle Television combined production and distribution units in January 2001 after the NBC, Hearst-Argyle and Gannett stations agreed jointly to develop and carry first-run programming developed by NBC Enterprises.—P.A.

The Language of Advertising

Univision's bid to buy the Hispanic Broadcasting radio chain would be in big trouble if the merger's fate were in the hands of a group of 18 ad firms, media buyers and station managers—many focusing on the Hispanic market. Last week, they urged the FCC to declare Spanish-language media in the U.S. a separate market from English-speaking media.

They submitted a stack of letters mirroring the comments of Castor Fernandez, president and creative director for Castor, a Miami ad buyer that has placed spots in Hispanic media for Coca Cola, McDonald's and P&G. "For many products, the target audience cannot be reached unless it is addressed in the familiar language," he wrote. Castor said price hikes in one English-language media rarely lead advertisers to flee to Spanish media and vice versa. By contrast, between Hispanic TV and radio, advertisers are quite willing to swap one service for the other to get a better deal, he said.

An FCC declaration that Spanish media is a separate market would greatly hinder chances for the Univision merger's success because its 80% reach in the Hispanic broadcast market would put it well above government antitrust triggers.—B.M.

Best Face Forward?

When last week's retrans battle between EchoStar-owned Dish Network and Allbritton's WJLA(TV) Washington went public, it was reporter/anchor Doug McKelway explaining in on-air spots the station's position. EchoStar subsequently complained to the FCC that the station had defamed it by having "one of its respected newscasters implore viewers 'to dump DISH network.'" McKelway also said he hoped Dish would "act responsibly." That complaint was withdrawn when the two struck a carriage deal.

Journalism critic Tom Rosenstiel said using McKelway raises an ethical issue. "Station management should never put their people in the position of being a corporate spokesman except on behalf of the newsgathering," said Rosenstiel, whose Project for Excellence in Journalism gave WJLA an A in its 2001 report card.

Allbritton General Counsel Jerry Fritz said the appropriateness of McKelway as spokesman was discussed with station executives beforehand. "He's the face of our station. We certainly don't want to compromise journalistic integrity. We were careful not to cross that line."—D.T.

Fox Looks Abroad

Once you're on top where do you go? At least for now, Fox News Channel appears firmly ensconced as the top-rated cable news net and routinely ranks among the top 10 cable nets. But Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes (left) still has a lot he wants done. On his to-do list: improving weekend programming and international reporting. Ailes also wants to expand Fox News internationally. Of course, Ailes still has one eye on CNN, which could mount its own counter-offensive at any time.—A.R.