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TV Notes: Pax TV set to join AT&T Cable in July

Wednesday, June 07, 2000

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

With contracts finally signed, Pax TV executives confirmed yesterday the family-friendly network will enter the Pittsburgh market on AT&T Cable Services systems July 5 and 6.

Steve Friedman, president of Pax TV cable distribution, said adding Pittsburgh to Pax TV's lineup means the network will be available in all of the Top 75 markets in the country, reaching 81 percent of American homes.

"We have been inundated with phone calls and letters from folks in Pittsburgh wanting Pax TV," Friedman said. "They've heard rumblings and word we were going to be in the market."

Friedman said he also heard from cable operators who wanted to carry Pax in Pittsburgh. Negotiations are ongoing to add Pax to area Adelphia and Comcast systems, Friedman said, adding only Armstrong had no interest in the network.

Friedman wouldn't comment on the cost of getting onto AT&T, but he did say it was cheaper than buying a station outright, but lacks the asset value a station would provide. Also, if Pax gets onto most area cable systems, there will still be 21 percent of homes in the Pittsburgh market without cable who won't be able to see Pax TV.

Friedman said whether or not Pax will have an office in Pittsburgh has not been determined.

"We're evaluating that as we speak," he said. "It depends on the rest of the negotiations with the rest of the cable operators in the market."

Friedman said Pax's deal with AT&T guarantees it Channel 4 in most areas, which will bump WQEX off AT&T.

WQED Pittsburgh has lodged an objection to AT&T dropping WQEX, citing FCC code that requires a cable system with 36 or more activated channels to carry all noncommercial/educational channels that request carriage. There is no FCC provision that allows a cable operator to drop a channel like WQEX, which duplicates WQED programming, unless the cable system already has three noncommercial/educational channels. AT&T carries only two: WQED and WQEX.

AT&T spokesman Dan Garfinkel said the cable company will stick to its original plan to replace WQEX with Pax TV

WCWB OFF THE AIR: Another storm, another outage.

Almost two weeks after getting knocked off the air by storms, Monday night WCWB was off the air again, this time due to a power outage in the area of its transmitter near Monroeville.

The station was off the air from 8:11 to 9:30 p.m. A station spokesman said Channel 22 executives are looking into several remedies that will keep the station on the air during storms.

AWARD NOMINATIONS: The Television Critics Association announced nominees for its annual awards Monday, with NBC's "The West Wing" leading all series with six nominations.

"West Wing" is nominated for program of the year alongside "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer," "Sex and the City," "The Sopranos" and "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."

"West Wing" is also nominated for best drama series, where it faces off against "Buffy," "Freaks and Geeks," "Once and Again," "The Practice" and "Sopranos."

New program nominees include "West Wing," "Freaks and Geeks," "Judging Amy," "Once and Again" and "Malcolm in the Middle."

For individual achievement in a drama, "West Wing" stars Martin Sheen and Allison Janney compete against series writer/creator Aaron Sorkin. Other nominees include James Gandolfini ("Sopranos") and Sela Ward ("Once and Again").

"Everybody Loves Raymond," "Frasier," "Malcolm," "Sex and the City" and "Will & Grace" are up for best comedy awards. "Will & Grace" co-stars Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally compete for individual achievement in a comedy, as do "Malcolm's" Frankie Muniz and Jane Kaczmarek. Ray Romano was also nominated.

In the movies/miniseries/special category, "Annie," "Arabian Nights," "The Corner," "Fail Safe" and "Jesus" are the nominees.

"Arthur," "Bear in the Big Blue House," "Between the Lions," "Blue's Clues" and "Sesame Street" are the competing children's programs.

ABC's 24-hour coverage of the dawning of the new year leads the news and information nominees. PBS's "The American President" and "Frontline" are also up for the award with CBS's "60 Minutes" and Discovery Channel's "Walking with Dinosaurs."

Career achievement award nominees are Mary Tyler Moore, Aaron Spelling, Dick Van Dyke, Mike Wallace and Dick Wolf.

More than 200 reporters and columnists in the print media from the United States and Canada make up the TCA membership. The TCA Awards will be handed out July 15 during TCA's summer press tour in Pasadena, Calif.

"MURDER ONE" RETURNS: Fans of the critically acclaimed 1995-97 ABC series "Murder One" will be happy to know reruns of the series will air on A&E at 9 p.m. Thursdays beginning June 22.

So far A&E has purchased only the first season of the Steven Bochco-produced series, which followed a single murder trial. Daniel Benzali stars as a high-priced lawyer who defends a young celebrity (Jason Gedrick) accused of murder.

An episode of "Murder One" that never aired in America can be seen Aug. 10.

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