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The week that was


The fate of kidnapped Wall Street Journal
reporter Daniel Pearl
was uncertain at press time Friday, with conflicting reports contending that he had been been executed and that he was still being held for ransom. U.S. officials said Friday they were unable to confirm whether Pearl was dead or alive. An earlier story on Pearl appears on page 16.


In the wake of its announced corporate restructuring two weeks ago, UPN
has laid off 26 staffers, or 20% of its work force. The highest executive to go was Todd Lituchy, senior vice president, scheduling and acquisitions. The Chicago sales office was closed, and five sales people in New York were let go.


The relationship between Arab network Al Jazeera
and CNN
erupted last week in a flap over a videotaped Oct. 20 Al Jazeera interview of Osama bin Laden. Al Jazeera, which had first denied the tape's existence and then said it had no news value, charged that CNN obtained the tape improperly. CNN said the tape fell into its hands, from a source that was connected with neither Al Jazeera nor any government agency. …

While on tour promoting volunteerism, President Bush
told audiences last week that America's enemies should not believe the country has grown too soft "watching too much daytime TV." Here at BROADCASTING CABLE, we heard the comments while watching TV in the afternoon. After that, we got right to work.


AOL Time Warner
nets The WB, TNT
and TBS Superstation
will pony up at least $75 million for New Line Cinema's Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
and two upcoming sequels. The networks and New Line are all AOL Time Warner properties. It's unclear whether The WB or a Turner net will get the first play, set for late 2004, but all three will air the movies. Starz
pay TV has the first exclusive window for 18 months. …

In January, Lifetime
reigned over both total day and prime time ratings. The women's net logged a 2.3 average rating in prime and tied Nickelodeon
for first in total day (1.4 rating). …

Hallmark Channel
had its biggest month since it shed its Odyssey Channel roots last summer. The family net garnered a 0.8 rating in January, up 100% from January last year. Hallmark's repeat of the six-part Roots
miniseries grabbed a 1.7. …

In its second week, the daytime syndicated version of Weakest Link
held steady at a 1.8. The show has improved its time-period performance over the most recent sweeps period (November) in several markets, including Boston, Atlanta, Houston and Phoenix. …

this June will debut a documentary series, Sixteen, about four women transitioning from adolescence to adulthood, from filmmakers RoryKennedy
and Liz Garbus.


Broadcasting losses dragged down Disney's media networks division, which posted a 58% decline in operating profit for the quarter ended Dec. 31, to $246 million. The decline was due to a $363 million swing in broadcasting profits, from a $287 million gain to a $76 million loss. Broadcast revenues were down 18% to $1.476 billion. The cable division fared better. Revenues were up 18% to $1.53 billion, while profits rose 6% to $322 million. …

AT&T Corp.'s
cable systems' margins are sliding again. It spent months bragging about how its woeful cash-flow margins were turning around from a low of 13.7% in one quarter of 2000 to 25.2% for the third quarter of 2001. But, in results posted for the fourth quarter ended December 2001, the MSO's margins slid back down to 22.9%, a 2.3-point decline. Most cable operators run with margins of 42% to 45%. …


In the Jan. 28 issue, page 28, broadcast-equipment manufacturer Thomson Multimedia's name was misspelled. ...

In the Jan. 21 report, Top 25 TV Groups, starting on page 44, the tally included stations, translators, satellite and low power stations owned by each group. Fox Television Stations controls 33 stations in 26 markets.