news digest


Dingell: DTV switch date needs delay

WASHINGTON — A tug of war over the date when the U.S. switches off the signal to millions of analog TV sets and forces the populace to adopt digital TV is brewing between Congress and the FCC. Powerful lawmakers like House Commerce Committee chairman Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., have indicated a softening of support for the Feb. 17, 2009, "hard date," when over-the-air analog TVs will stop working without a converter box. He told the National Association of Broadcasters this week that he was critical of the progress made so far. FCC commissioner Robert McDowell said Thursday that altering the date would be an error.

Interscope, Cameron go 3-D

NEW YORK — Interscope Records and director James Cameron have partnered to produce a series of 3-D presentations, which will include commercials, to be shown before concert films in theaters and 3-D concerts. The project was launched last year after Gwen Stefani's "Wind It Up" video was filmed in 3-D alongside the released version. Interscope Geffen A&M Records is home to such artists as Stefani, Dr. Dre, Eminem, U2 and 50 Cent.

Fox getting 'Smarter' for more episodes

Fox has picked up four additional episodes of the hit quiz show "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader" to air on Thursdays at 8 p.m. The stellar debut of the Jeff Foxworthy-hosted show on Tuesday and Wednesday after "American Idol" helped Fox clinch the February sweep crown among adults 18-49 with a 5.2 rating/13 share. CBS won the sweep in total viewers with an average of 15.7 million. Beginning last night, "Grader" moved to 9 p.m. Thursdays, where it will continue to enjoy an "Idol" lead-in until next week before sliding to 8 p.m. on March 15.

Sinclair to keep talking with Comcast

Comcast Corp. and Sinclair Broadcast Group have signed an extension to continue negotiations of their retransmission consent agreement, the companies said Thursday. In a joint statement, Sinclair and Comcast said that their "productive discussions" would be extended until March 10. Sinclair was set to pull its stations from 3 million Comcast subscribers Thursday if a retransmission consent deal couldn't be reached. Comcast has balked at paying cash to any station group, but Sinclair is intent on getting new revenue, as it did in February from Mediacom Communications after yanking its stations for several weeks.

Parcells inks with ESPN

NEW YORK — Former NFL coach Bill Parcells has signed with ESPN as an analyst for the channel's "Monday Night Football" telecasts. Parcells will be a part of ESPN's 90-minute "Monday Night Countdown" from its Bristol, Conn., studios just before the "MNF" games. He also will co-host a Friday night program during NFL season on ESPN Radio with Chris Mortensen and write for Parcells was head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, which he led for four seasons before stepping down in January.

Disney film to aid L.A. Olympic bid

The Walt Disney Co., with the help of Bruce Hendricks, executive producer of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie franchise, has produced a 31/2-minute film for the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games to help boost the area's bid to host the 2016 Games. U.S. Olympic Committee officials toured the city Thursday and will decide April 14 whether Los Angeles or Chicago will be the U.S. bid city.