Now that the Federal Communications Commission is allowing media companies to own two TV stations in a market, New York-based Young Broadcasting Inc.'s KCAL-TV Channel 9 has become a hot commodity. Young bought the independent station in 1996 for $370 million, but its market value could jump to twice that amount under the new rules, according to media analysts.
It is doubtful that stations like KCOP-TV Channel 13, which is tied to the UPN network, or KTLA-TV Channel 5, which is The WB outlet in Los Angeles, would be available. They are crucial outlets for the weblets. That means KCAL is the likely L.A. plum for picking. But not yet.
Jim Morgan, executive vice president of Young Broadcasting, insisted that KCAL is not for sale. "But we are a public company and if somebody wants to talk, we will talk," he said.
Morgan declined to discuss whether Young has held any discussions with potential buyers. "We can't comment on that," he said.
Including KCAL, Young owns 12 stations. Morgan declined to disclose any specifics about KCAL's financial performance, other than to say, "It's a great station and very valuable in our group."
The Association of Talent Agents is trying to get the Screen Actors Guild to rewrite its regulations to allow Hollywood agents to produce theatrical films and TV projects and to charge their clients the same rates as personal managers.
In addition, agents want SAG to allow agencies to be owned by a movie studio, broadcasting company or ad agency, none of which can be done now.
"The playing field has to be level," said a top agent.
Personal managers currently are unregulated and can produce their clients' films and TV projects. They charge clients 15 percent for representation, sometimes more, compared with the traditional agent's fee of 10 percent.
For months, agents and personal managers have squared off in a simmering battle over the fate of their mercurial clients. Many actors and directors have left agencies for managers, who they believe can devote more time to handling their careers. The exodus threatens the future of agents in Hollywood.
If SAG approves the changes, the state labor commission would begin looking into revising the current rules governing talent agencies.
If SAG doesn't modify its position, one agent foresees the possibility of agents, even those at the top firms, resigning en masse and forming management companies.
A spokesman for SAG said the guild is "still studying the matter."
A high-stakes game of chicken is going on between King World Productions and NBC over the future of Roseanne's talk show. NBC won't run the chatter on its 11 owned stations because Roseanne has been limping in the ratings, averaging about 1.9 million viewers compared to talk show king Jerry Springer's 8.6 million.
NBC's decision means Roseanne won't be seen in Los Angeles or New York, the nation's top two markets. Here's the rub: NBC, which paid top dollar for the show, still has to pay for the second year of Roseanne, even on the shelf. But by dropping the show, NBC knows that Roseanne's ratings will plummet even more, damaging the show nationally and infuriating other stations that also have to pay for a second season. Angry clients, many of whom have already shifted the talker to weaker time slots, don't like to buy more shows from a syndicator who sticks them with a troubled show. NBC officials hope that King World, sensing a greater good in maintaining goodwill among station owners, will cancel the show, freeing the network from paying for a second year.
King World isn't blinking, still believing the show came make a comeback in its second season. "We are already taping out first shows for the new season," said Jeff Wald, Roseanne's executive producer. "She's not quitting. NBC still has to pay us."
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