SAG'S ALLEN CHALLENGES MODERATES

In what he labeled "an important message" that he sent to union members on Sunday, during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, Screen Actors Guild chief negotiator and Executive Director Doug Allen accused moderates within the union of severely undermining his negotiating strategy with film and TV producers. He proposed what he called a "compromise" in which the union would send out the producers' offer to the membership for a vote, accompanied by arguments pro and con. "If the National Board does not adopt this compromise," Allen's message said, "the strike authorization referendum will be conducted, with ballots sent to every eligible member for a vote." However, Daily Variety reported on its website today (Monday) that Allen may not be given the chance to send out the strike authorization, since the moderate faction of the union is determined to round up enough votes on the board to oust him and replace the current negotiating committee.

WILL STUDIOS SPONSOR THEMSELVES DURING OSCAR TELECAST?

For the first time the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will permit ads for movies to run during the Oscar telecast on February 24. Under new rules adopted in October, studios will be allowed to run only one ad. They will not be able to run ads for an entire slate or promote sequels to any of the previous year's films in the categories of best picture, best animated, and best documentary. AMPAS has also dropped an additional requirement that an advertised film must open after the Oscar telecast, according to Advertising Age, which cited unnamed insiders. Adage said that Paramount is considering buying an ad for its upcoming drama The Soloist and that Warner Bros. is also looking to buy an ad on the telecast. In addition, the trade publicationreported that ABC has cut the cost of a 30-second commercial broadcast during the telecast to $1.4 million from $1.7 million a year ago, a tacit acknowledgement of cutbacks in spending being put into place by leading ad buyers.

TV STATIONS BALK AT SWITCHOVER DELAY

The overwhelming majority of station managers at TV outlets across the country oppose the proposal to delay the switch from analog to digital broadcasting until June, TelevisionWeek reported today (Monday). The trade publication said that the delay, which has been endorsed by President-elect Obama, would force stations to maintain analog and digital transmitters for an additional four months, causing many of them to cut costs elsewhere and putting jobs at risk. TVWeek said that nine of 10 station managers that it polled opposed the delay. "Many managers lamented that their stations spent time, money and man-hours to get transmitters ready, inform viewers and troubleshoot, only to have the rug pulled out right before the payoff," the magazine observed, noting that legislators who are proposing the delay, "haven't made any move to ease the pain stations feel."

CNN TO REAIR "I HAVE A DREAM" SPEECH

CNN has purchased rights from the Martin Luther King Jr. estate to air King's entire "I Have a Dream" speech, originally delivered in August 1963, today at noon Eastern Time. In 1999 a court ruled that the King Estate held rights to the speech and could charge for its rebroadcast. Terms of the deal between the estate and CNN were not disclosed.

U.K.'S CHANNEL 4 FOUNDER BLASTS ITS PROGRAMMING

The founder of Britain's Channel 4 says that it has brought its current financial difficulties on itself. Jeremy Isaacs, who served as CEO of the commercial network from 1980 to 1987, told the London Sunday Times that the channel has squandered money on "dross," such as the Big Brother reality series, instead of producing the kind of high-quality programming that once characterized its schedule. The channel is currently seeking $150 million a year in public funding. Isaacs acknowledged that the channel "still does some remarkable, excellent programming," but that it now seems dedicated to producing programs for shock value. "The shocking has become a remit [official procedure] in itself. They are saying, 'Channel 4 has shocked in the past, so this is what we will do.'"

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