Through The Wire: Ergens Auditioning for Americas Most Wanted


EchoStar CEO Charlie Ergen last week pulled off a brilliantdemonstration of DBS provision of local TV signals. But the event -- staged in thepenthouse of the National Press Building, two blocks from the White House -- had oneslight problem: It was totally illegal. Ergen's demo violated the Satellite HomeViewer Act in multiple ways. He imported distant-network signals in competition withD.C.'s local-network affiliates; he retransmitted local D.C. network signals back into anarea of D.C. considered 'served' by network signals under copyright law; and hispresentation was not for 'private home viewing,' as the law requires. Accordingto the U.S. Copyright Office, Ergen's infringement could cost him up to $250,000 if a affiliate got fired up about it. Oddly, Ergen seemed to be aware of the situation,but he was apparently under the impression that a demo was legally exempt. Sorry, Charlie:There's no such exemption, the Copyright Office said.

Apparently, TCI has a problem with Mike Tyson the wrestler.The MSO has yet to bless Tyson's appearance in the March 29 Wrestlemania eventbecause it wants to make sure that Tyson's wrestling career doesn't jeopardize hispotentially more lucrative boxing career. While a TCI spokeswoman would only say that theMSO has not made a decision on whether to carry Wrestlemania XIV, sources close tothe situation said TCI wants to know exactly what Tyson will do in the wrestling ring. TCIalso wants to be assured by the Nevada Athletic Commission that Tyson's appearance won'tjeopardize his chance to regain his boxing license in July. A WWF spokeswoman, however,said she feels 'confident that this issue will be resolved favorably.'

In the kind of media synergy that Rupert Murdoch does best,stacks of the New York Post were on display at last Wednesday's party to switch theSportsChannel networks over to Fox Sports Net. The 'exclusive' big news --Fox Sports Net Arrives in NYC -- made the front and back pages, knocking off MonicaLewinsky and Latrell Sprewell. It was a gag, of course. But it sure caught the eye ofTV-sports columnists from rival Big Apple tabloids. One joked that he planned to bring acopy back to the newsroom and tell his editor, 'You may have to set aside more thaneight inches for this story!'

An FCC staffer brought guffaws from a luncheon crowd atlast week's Conference on Emerging Technologies, hosted by the SCTE. Michael Nelson,director of technology policy in the FCC's Office of Planning and Policy, opened hisspeech on Internet-related challenges with a heartfelt thanks to the crowd for getting himout of politically charged Washington, D.C., for a few days. 'It's nice to comehere to talk about something other than the finer points of perjury and oral sex,'Nelson quipped.

Broncomania reached the halls of Encore Media Group lastTuesday, two days after the Broncos upset the Packers in the Super Bowl. Encore COOMark Bauman gave the entire staff the afternoon off to attend Denver's parade salutingthe gridiron heroes. About one-half of the 200 staffers took an Encore bus, equipped witha bag lunch, to join the 650,000 playing hooky. Why didn't everyone take Bauman up on hislargesse? 'A lot of people were busy,' said an Encore spokeswoman.