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The week that was

USA loves tennis

A fierce duel between Andre Agassi
and Pete Sampras
last Wednesday night at the U.S. Open
USA Network
to a 4.1 overnight Nielsen rating with 3.4 million households. It was cable's biggest audience for a tennis telecast, says USA's head of research Ray Giacopelli. "We lucked out with the marquee match," he said. USA's 2001 U.S. Open ratings to date are up 36% from last year. ...

took home the most statues at last week's News and Documentary Emmy Awards
in New York, winning eight prizes from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, one more than PBS. Five went to CNBC, which bested co-owned NBC, which got four; ABC
won three. Prizes were awarded to CBS for reports by 60 Minutes
and 60 Minutes II.

See you in Court

Court TV
sued New York state and three New York officials last week, contending that a statute banning cameras in trial courts is unconstitutional. The network tapped legal ace David Boies, who represented Al Gore
in Florida, to lead its suit. Forty other states allow cameras. ...

Time Warner's
Ted Turner
plummeted from 14th place to 50th (and last) place, in Vanity Fair's annual Top 50 Information Age Leaders list. Among the gainers was Comcast's
Brian Roberts, who went from 37th to 16th. Breaking into the top 10 was AOL Time Warner
co-COO Bob Pittman, who rose from 15th to 8th. ...

has spun off its NBC Connect
cross-platform sales and marketing unit into a separate division that will be headed by Jay Linden. ... ABC
and ESPN
inked a contract extension with the Indy Racing League
to keep races on the Walt Disney Co. networks through 2007. The original TV deal, signed in 1999, would have expired in 2004. ABC has had it since 1965. ... Discovery Health Channel
has won the survival-of-the-fittest contest, gobbling up rival The Health Network
for $155 million. ...

In his own league

Mark Cuban, founder of and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, jump-started his own high-definition-TV network on DirecTV
last week. Cuban's HDNet
starts up with 15 Major League Baseball games down the pennant-stretch run. He also has pacts with the NHL and the Olympics committee. ...

Comcast Cable
and Cox Communications
pulled the plug on their exclusivity pacts with Excite@Home
last week. Steve Burke, Comcast Cable president, said the cable company is in talks with Excite@Home "about how we might structure a different relationship." Meanwhile, Burke said, existing Comcast Excite@Home subs needn't worry about losing service. ...

First Amendment groups are backing NBC's decision not to turn over to Rep. Henry Waxman
(D-Calif.) internal videotapes that allegedly show GE Chairman Jack Welch
in the NBC newsroom on Election Night 2000, supposedly urging the newsies to call the race for George W. Bush. Three journalism groups wrote Waxman a letter last week urging him to drop the issue. So did
Radio-Television News Directors Association President Barbara Cochran.
Phil Schiliro, Waxman's spokesman, said the Congressman planned to speak with NBC to see if the parties could arrive at a "constructive resolution" before Waxman would proceed with any plans to issue a subpoena to NBC. ...

Tough going

FremantleMedia, formerly Pearson Television, laid off a number of people, apparently fewer than 10, in its New York office. In June, the syndicator laid off 15-20 in Los Angeles. A company representative attributed the executive departures to Fremantle's ongoing restructuring and the current "softness in the market." ...

Crossing Over With John Edward
and Shipmates, the latest syndicated shows to debut, saw mixed results in their debut week, Aug. 27-Sept. 2. Scoring a 1.5 rating/4 share in the Nielsen weighted-metered markets, Crossing Over
was 12% below its average lead-in (1.7/5) and 12% down from the comparable year-ago time period (1.7/5). It's the same story for Shipmates
(1.0/3), which was down 9% from its lead-in (1.1/4) and off 23% from its time period's year-ago performance (1.3/4). It was also slow going for other newcomer Iyanla
(1.3/5), which was 35% below its lead-in (2.0/7) and 23% below performance of the comparable time period last year (1.7/6).