news digest


Senate seeks to counter FCC

WASHINGTON — The Senate Commerce Committee plans to vote Wednesday on legislation that would reverse the FCC's recent decision lifting the federal ban against joint ownership of a newspaper and a broadcast outlet in the same market. Under the so-called "legislative veto" being pushed by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., the resolution would rescind the FCC's December decision to allow newspaper-broadcast combinations in the nation's top 20 markets. The FCC also gave permanent waivers to the cross-ownership ban in 42 situations and made it easier to win waivers for newspaper-broadcast combinations in smaller markets.

Gifford to carry ball at 'Today'

Kathie Lee Gifford will make her return to TV on the fourth hour of NBC's "Today." She starts Monday. Regis Philbin's former partner will co-host the fourth hour — which is cleared in most of the country — with NBC News correspondent Hoda Kotb. Ann Curry will return to her primary duties as news anchor of "Today" during its first two hours and then co-host the 9 a.m. hour. Natalie Morales, who also worked the 10 a.m. hour, will co-host Hour 3 with Curry and Al Roker.

More trouble in 'Army's' ranks

Another showrunner has left Lifetime's "Army Wives." Dee Johnson has left the hit drama over creative differences. Nick Thiel has come on board to take over Johnson's duties, working with the writers and with creator Katherine Fugate. Johnson's exit from the show, which returns with its second season in the summer, follows the departures of original showrunner Samantha Corbin-Miller and her successor Jeff Melvoin.

It's 'Madness' with SoapNet pickups

SoapNet on Monday announced "Relative Madness," an original series of six new one-hour specials that will count down the top 25 most over-the-top TV and celebrity family moments. "Madness" premieres at 11 p.m. May 8. In addition, SoapNet has acquired five more films from its Sunday night movie franchise: "Romy and Michelle: In the Beginning," "I Do, They Don't," "Face on the Milk Carton," "Relative Chaos" and "I Want to Marry Ryan Banks."

Wilson in as Atari topper

Atari has named Jim Wilson president and CEO effective immediately, the video game company said Monday. Wilson takes over from Curtis Solsvig III, Atari's chief restructuring officer since October. Solsvig comes from corporate turnaround firm AlixPartners, which had been retained to help the company review and implement its strategic options.

Starz ready for $25 mil brand campaign

Starz Entertainment on Monday unveiled a $25 million brand and marketing initiative that will include a new logo, a new on-air look and an integrated advertising campaign on-air and online. Starz said that the yearlong "Are You Ready?" campaign is the company's largest long-term brand investment since 2002. The logo debuts Wednesday.

Kenny joins MyNet sales team

Judy Kenny has been named executive vp sales at MyNetworkTV, where she will oversee all sales initiatives. Kenny, who was executive vp sales at Univision, will be based in New York, reporting to MyNet president Greg Meidel.