Why Are These Senators Smiling? They’ve Just Been Named MVP

Congressional Republicans and Democrats may not have been playing ball on keeping the government open last week, but Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) were all smiles as they accepted “Most Valuable Policymaker” awards from the Sports Fans Coalition last week at 201, a Capitol Hill bar.

The room was “packed,” SFC chairman David Goodfriend said. Why were these senators singled out for recognition?

“Senators McCain and Blumenthal consistently stick up for sports fans,” Goodfriend told The Wire. “They established a simple principle in legislation this year: If sports leagues get a benefit from the public, such as funding for stadiums, then the fans should get something back in return, such as no local blackouts. These two senators, from opposite ends of the political spectrum, demonstrate that it’s a bipartisan principle to stick up for fans wherever the government gets involved in sports.”

McCain added that dimension into the a la carte programming bill he introduced earlier this year. Blumenthal is preparing a bill that would condition sports leagues’ antitrust exemptions on requiring no-blackout contracts with rights-holders. The bill will be introduced after the government shutdown is resolved, an industry source said.

‘Doctor Who’ Fans Want TARDIS Blue As Empire State Hue

U.S. fans of iconic U.K. sci-fi series Doctor Who want to mark the 50th anniversary of the show with a light show fit for a king. More than 17,000 fans have signed on to have New York’s Empire State Building turned “TARDIS blue” in November, in honor of the show’s golden anniversary. The TARDIS, as Whovians well know, looks like a police phone-call box but, being bigger on the inside, is the portal the Doctor and his companions travel through time and space in.

The Change.org petition was launched by Adam Kaufman, a member of the New York-based sci-fi superfan organization NY SciFi & Fantasy. As Kaufman said therein: “The Empire State Building regularly uses their spectacular light show to celebrate special moments in pop culture, such as sports events, the 15th anniversary of The Lion King, and Wrestlemania, as well as all the holidays and occasions it’s more known for being lit up for. As far as we know, however, they’ve never lit up to celebrate a SciFi show. What better place to start than the iconic series Doctor Who?”

BBC America will air the Doctor Who 50th-anniversary special, “The Day of the Doctor,” on Nov. 23, part of a simulcast that will air in more than 75 countries overall.

‘Bionic Man’ Inspires Smithsonian Doc, High-School Contest

A real-life (artificial-life) bionic man is coming to the New York Comic Con and Smithsonian Channel — and he’s inspiring a contest open to highschool students in Comcast and Cablevision Systems service areas.

As seen in the current Smithsonian Magazine, “The Incredible Bionic Man” is a 6-foottall robot built from bionic body parts and implantable synthetic organs, and complete with a functioning circulatory system. He is the result of billions of dollars of research and features components borrowed from some of the world’s leading laboratories, designed to show off how far science has come in efforts to simulate the human body. He’s chronicled in the Smithsonian Channel documentary of the same name on Oct. 20 and will appear at New York Comic Con at the Javits Center Oct. 10-13.

The channel’s affiliate team is running a science contest for students in grades 9-12, dubbed “The Incredible Bionic Man Challenge.” Students visit a co-branded website, watch The Incredible Bionic Man doc, create a bionic replacement part, then make an original video describing their work. Video entries are uploaded to the contest website to be reviewed by a judging panel.

Four finalists will be chosen from those entries, and (with a guest) will attend a grand-prize award ceremony at a Smithsonian Institution museum in Washington, D.C. One of them will win a $5,000 college scholarship. Support from the channel also includes educator curricular resources, such as lesson plans and background materials, and co-branded tune-in spots.

The contest runs between Oct. 1 and Nov. 7.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.