news digest


Wilkos talk show adds clearances

NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution has cleared Steve Wilkos' upcoming talk show in more than 85% of the country for a fall launch in syndication. The hourlong daytime strip, hosted by the security guard from "The Jerry Springer Show," has been sold to stations from such groups as Tribune, Sinclair, Fox, Hearst-Argyle, Gannett and Sunbeam. Recently added markets include WLVI Boston, WATL Atlanta, KUTP Phoenix, WFTC Minneapolis and WKCF Orlando. The as-yet-untitled show, being sold on a cash-plus-barter basis, has been cleared in 45 of the top 50 markets and will be paired with NBC Uni's "Maury" and "Springer" in many markets.

Comcast, Sinclair agree, then disagree

Comcast Corp. and Sinclair Broadcasting Group agreed on a new retransmission consent deal Friday, but there's disagreement on the terms. While a new four-year deal — struck just a day before a recently signed extension was to expire — will keep Sinclair's 37 stations on Comcast, Sinclair said the cable operator made a cash payment as part of the deal. But Comcast disputed that notion. "Comcast has achieved its objective of not paying cash for broadcast carriage that would need to be passed on to our customers," a spokeswoman for the MSO said.

Telefonica to sell stake in Endemol

AMSTERDAM — Spanish telecom giant Telefonica said that it wants to sell its stake in "Big Brother" producer Endemol and has retained Lehman Bros. as its financial adviser and asked Merrill Lynch to offer finance facilities to the purchaser. Telefonica said that, if it sells its 75% stake in the Dutch entertainment company, it will expect the buyer to make a public offer for the remaining 25% of the shares. A bid for all of Endemol's share capital could reach about £2 billion ($3.8 billion), analysts said. Spanish television channel Telecinco said Thursday that it will meet Italian parent company Mediaset this week to discuss a potential joint bid for Endemol.

Miami nice for 'Alice,' 'Luck,' 'Antonia'

At last week's Miami Internation Film Festival, Los Angeles-based distributor FiGa Films acquired Chico Teixeira's drama "Alice's House" (A Casa de Alice), the story of a woman neglected by her sons and cheating husband. Miami-based Venevision International nabbed Rodrigo Triana's "A Ton of Luck" (Sonar No Cuesta Nada), based on the true story of Colombian soldiers who find millions of dollars in drug money and decide to keep it for themselves. Tata Amaral's musical drama "Antonia" (Antonia — O Filme) was picked up by Netflix division Red Envelope.

Flax leaving post at EMI Music

EMI Group Plc.'s EMI Music Publishing unit said that Robert Flax will leave his post as the unit's vice chairman as of March 31. "Our mutual respect for each other enabled (EMI Music Publishing chairman and CEO) Roger Faxon and I to openly discuss my desire to pursue new directions," Flax said last week. "I'm quite proud of all I've been able to accomplish at EMI, and I am sure that our paths will cross in the future."

NBC Sports, SI team on Web content

NEW YORK — is set to announce today a partnership with Sports Illustrated's that will give their users access to some of each another's content. The deal will boost's content with print and video as well as's "Truth & Rumors" column. also will have broadband video, including some produced by NBC featuring its own writers. The multiyear deal is separate from anything else or does and does not affect's partnership with Time Warner sibling CNN. Terms of the NBC-SI deal weren't disclosed.