news digest


Anti-piracy efforts among education act

WASHINGTON — Legislation renewing the nation's higher-education programs includes language sought by the studios that pushes the nation's colleges to toughen campus anti-piracy measures. Deep in the Higher Education Act introduced Friday by House Education and Labor Committee chairman Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., are provisions that direct colleges and universities to step up anti-piracy efforts; instruct the schools to develop alternatives to illegal downloading, including technology that blocks illegal downloads; and give the education secretary authority to fund prevention, education and blocking solutions to reduce and eliminate the illegal downloading and distribution of intellectual property.

Upgrades, restatements slow Imax Q3

TORONTO — Giant-screen exhibitor Imax posted a widened third-quarter loss that it put down to the cost of doing digital business. For the three months ending Sept. 30, Toronto-based Imax recorded a loss of $7.5 million, compared with a loss of $5.6 million in 2006. The exhibitor's operating costs during the latest quarter were impacted by higher spending on its pending transition to digital projection technology and increased legal and accounting costs required to restate past financial results.

MacDonald, Cross go broadband via TBS

NEW YORK — TBS' Super Deluxe comedy broadband channel is adding shows from Norm MacDonald and David Cross, the company said Friday. MacDonald will reprise his "Saturday Night Live" role as a satirical newsman as he will write for and voice a CGI anchor on "Norm MacDonald Presents the Fake News," debuting Wednesday. Cross' offering will be a series of one-offs, including commercial parodies, that will debut in the fall.

Providence mulls Clear Channel withdrawal

Clear Channel Communications said Friday that Providence Equity Partners was considering withdrawing from a $1.2 billion deal to buy the radio operator's television assets. The deal for 56 stations in 24 markets was announced in April. The private-equity firm is considering its options because of underperformance at the stations, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters late last week. Clear Channel is going private in a nearly $20 billion deal led by Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital Partners. The company said that transaction was not conditional on the TV sale.

Johnston tapped to lead NYPA

The New York Production Alliance has appointed John Johnston to the newly created position of executive director. Johnston served in various sales, marketing and management roles for the Entertainment Imaging division of the Eastman Kodak Co. for 33 years. He spent the last 10 years of his Kodak career in a management role in New York, where he became closely involved with industry projects and organizations dedicated to the rebuilding of the production industry after Sept. 11. Johnston serves on the boards of NYPA, the Advertising Club of New York, the Rochester International High Falls Film Festival and the Little Theater Film Society in Rochester, N.Y. He also is an associate member of the American Society of Cinematographers.