The week that was

CONUS Calls It Quits

Citing the dominance of broadcast networks—and their news services—as owners of TV stations in major markets and the expansion of CNN Newsource, employees of CONUS Communications
were told Friday that CONUS will be closing most of its operations, including its news service.

CONUS will continue the archive service it has built in its 18 years and will still sell transponder time.

President Terry O'Reilly's priority now is to find jobs for 160 employees. He lauds CONUS for spawning a new business and credited partner Stanley Hubbard for pioneering satellite newsgathering.

Hell In New York

Cable insiders gather in New York City this week for an annual autumn flurry of industry events dubbed "hellweek" (yet they all come). A year ago, Sept. 11 forced cancellation, stranding out-of-towners in New York City.

The highlight of the week this year will be the Walter Kaitz Foundation
dinner on Sept. 25 (business attire for this year's event) honoring Comcast
President Brian Roberts. Also, the National Association of Minorities in Communications
conference Sept. 24-25 features NCTA
President and CEO Robert Sachs
and FCC Media Bureau
Chief KenFerree.

Also on tap are the Kagan Broadband Summit (Sept. 25) and CTAM's Blue Ribbon breakfast that morning. At lunchtime, Women in Cable & Telecommunications
has its annual luncheon. And, for an escapist touch, Cable Positive
will host a late-night gathering at hip Manhattan eatery Noche
on Sept. 25.

Your Four Years of Fame From FX

is on a hunt for a few good men and women to run for president—really (or as real as television reality gets). The network has greenlighted American Candidate,
which will seek out undiscovered political talent with presidential aspirations. The series, created by documentarian R.J.Cutler
and Austin Powers
director Jay Roach, will follow 100 potential candidates, selected from a pool of applicants, vying to be leader of the free world.

FX is just providing a platform, said a spokesman, likening the opportunity to that of Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura. Others, however, compare it to American Idol, where a singing star was "discovered." FX's debut is in January 2004, just in time for the winner to make a run for president, if he or she desires. Dumber things have happened.

Fully Programmable

Columbia TriStar Domestic Television has changed its name to Sony Pictures Television
to get on the brandwagon of parent Sony Corp.
Similarly, the international unit becomes Sony PicturesTelevisionInternational. ...

Discovery Network's Science Channel
is adding two series and a host of specials. William Shatner
will narrate astronomy series Cosmic Odyssey. Then, The Critical Eye, hosted by The X-Files'William B. Davis, will provide scientific explanations for well-known myths. Both series will debut late this year or early next year. Upcoming specials include Return to the Hubble,
the story of seven astronauts' 1999 rendezvous with the Hubble telescope. ...

has delayed the debut of Dinotopia
and instead picked up eight more episodes of detective drama Monk, which scored last summer for both originating network USA
on Friday nights and ABC in re-airings on Tuesday. ...

Cable music channel MuchMusic USA
is looking to ride the American Idol
wave, too. On Thursday, the Rainbow Media-owned network will telecast air the New Voice of 2002
competition, a search for a female singer/songwriter, sponsored by Pantene
shampoo. The winner, judged by young female celebs, will be awarded a demo recording deal with Atlantic records and musical equipment. ...

MTV Networks
acquired the assets of the College Television Network
cable channel for $15 million. MTV will program CTN, which reaches 8.2 million college students, with music videos, some MTV shows, news and sports.


and HDTV
over-the-air broadcasts took another step toward interactivity with the Advanced Television Systems Committee's approval of the DTV Application Software Environment
(DASE) standard, a great advance toward the goal of allowing broadcasters to transmit interactive material. Receivers and set-top boxes that are DASE-capable still need to be designed and manufactured, but Samsung
and LG Electronics
demonstrated prototypes during the World Cup
in Korea. TV receivers need to be DASE-compatible, too. ...

Former ABC Television, ABC Sports
and ESPN
chief Steve Bornstein
is joining the National Football League
as a TV consultant.

He will advise NFL
Commissioner Paul Tagliabue
and the league's broadcast committee on media issues and TV deals.