The cheering's stopped (he's much too shy to admit it, but Captain Airwaves was terribly touched by reports that some of you -- despite the heat -- planned to strap the whole family into breakfast nooks this morning, Just Because), let's get right to the news, TV Column fans. There's a lot of Catching Up to do . . .
First off, Channel 32, which has been off the air since July 22, expects to receive replacement equipment early this week and has hopes of broadcasting again by maybe Wednesday or Thursday . . .
According to a WHMM spokesman, a power cable between the Howard University station's transmitter and its antenna burned out . . .
The House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East will hold hearings tomorrow on the "media's role in international diplomacy and the Middle East" . . .
Even a Vacationing Airwaves out there in the boondocks detected that media coverage had become a touchy subject before the June 30 release of the TWA hostages . . .
So he wasn't surprised to learn Friday that -- in part anticipating possible congressional review of TV coverage of the most recent major hijacking incident -- NBC News had just issued internal guidelines for future coverage of such terrorist events . . .
The memo from NBC News president Larry Grossman followed an in-house review that began July 1 and eventually was put together, in the form of 13 questions and answers, by members of a special task force and the division's Editorial Board . . .
The eight-page memo concludes that "professionalism and common sense provide the best guidelines to avoid undue risks, dangers and the exploitation of news reporting. There must be a delicate balance of our obligation to keep the public informed, our obligation to avoid being used, and our obligation not to exacerbate or sensationalize the situation" . . .
Among the specific points made by the guidelines:
"It is far preferable to tape and edit all hostage and terrorist interviews. If urgent circumstances require live transmission, special care must be exercised in broadcasting them. We also have to be vigilant to avoid soliciting special messages to the negotiating authorities. We should refrain from asking questions . . . that could endanger the hostages, or questions based on hearsay or unproven allegations" . . .
To avoid becoming "part of the story," the memo recommended that NBC "cover only what is happening. Make no effort to change or dramatize what is happening. Make no effort to influence participants or observers to do or refrain from doing anything. Do not become involved as a participant in any way. Include nothing in a broadcast report which might give an erroneous impression of what actually took place" . . .
The network spells out a series of suggestions (travel to scene in unmarked cars, limit the use of lights, "maintain a low profile," etc.) for behavior in dangerous situations, adding that "if despite these efforts NBC News employees are convinced that their activities could exacerbate a dangerous situation, they will discontinue these activities promptly. A civil disturbance will not be broadcast on a live basis except in very special circumstances and then only with the prior approval (of top news executives)" . . .
How frequently, the memo asks, "should we take air with hostage updates?" . . .
"Editorial judgment," the memo replies, "must determine when NBC News will interrupt for regular program schedule. Such interruptions should be done rarely and only for the most important news developments" . . .
NBC "can pay expenses" for hostage families who wish to be reunited with freed family members overseas "as is our practice for interview programs, but we cannot intrude on their personal reunions and privacy. We should be sensitive to their needs and concerns. We cannot impose our own captivity on the families, making it impossible for other media representatives to interview them on scene" . . .
"Taste and judgement," the memo points out, "are the most reliable barometers of sound journalistic practice . . . There are times when restraints should be imposed voluntarily on coverage at the scenes of events, as well as back at the broadcast centers" . . .
Among the network executives working on the guidelines, in addition to Grossman, were Paul Greenberg, Gordon Manning, Tom Brokaw, John Chancellor and Tim Russert . . .
On July 17, meanwhile, Rep. Thomas A. Luken (D-Ohio), a member of the House telecommunications subcommittee, wrote top corporate executives of ABC, CBS, NBC, Cable News Network and the National Association of Broadcasters expressing the Hill's "deep concern" over problems possibly posed by the hostage coverage and suggesting voluntary action on future guidelines, perhaps by a summit of the networks . . .
At tomorrow's all-day hearings of the House Europe and the Middle East subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Lee H. Hamilton (D-Ind.), panels testifying will include TWA and Iran hostages, broadcast executives, media critics and other experts. Also in the News
Is the word from Chicago that former Channel 9 anchor Max Robinson is undergoing treatment on the West Coast for what a WMAQ executive describes as "reactive depression" . . .
Robinson hospitalized himself in Cleveland in late June after a stormy run of 16 months at WMAQ, the NBC-owned Chicago station, during which he was often absent from the air as the station's 6 and 10 p.m. weeknight co-anchor . . .
There had been reports that the station was already seeking to buy out the remainder of his $500,000-a-year contract -- which runs through the middle of next year -- at the time of his hospitalization . . .
WMAQ recently announced that Carol Marin had taken over Robinson's anchor spots . . .
But Friday, former WMAQ vice president and general manager Monte Newman said, "Max's status has not been resolved. We won't know his next step until he completes his treatment. Max has made some mistakes but he's a great gentleman. The treatment is the best thing for him right now. It's possible he will be back on the air in another assignment when he returns" . . .
Newman, who helped put Channel 4 here back on the track several years ago when NBC brought him and Bob Walsh in from WMAQ to resolve morale problems, is due for reassignment by the network . . .
Newman has been general manager for the last 6 1/2 years at WMAQ, but dogged by continued low ratings in the tough local Chicago news race, he said Friday that NBC had decided a week ago "it's time for a change. I think I accomplished a lot but there's more that still has to be done" . . .
He has been replaced by Richard Lobo, who had previously been program director and news director at WMAZ but most recently was vice president and GM of NBC-owned WKYC in Cleveland . . .
Newman, who says he will talk with NBC chairman Grant Tinker soon about his status at the network, hinted he could move in other directions after more than 20 years in the network grind Speaking of Calls
From Tinker, executive producer Ed Fouhy received one from the NBC boss Thursday night at dinner time congratulating him on the first edition of "American Almanac," which Tinker had just seen out in Burbank . . .
"He thought it was terrific," according to a New York NBC News executive . . .
The upcoming NBC news magazine, which is being produced out of Washington, debuts at 10 p.m. next Tuesday (Aug. 6) on the network . . .
More good news for the "Almanac" team, which is still dogged by in-house rumors that it's under the gun from prime-time entertainment competition at resurgent NBC: All 207 NBC affiliates have cleared the premiere program . . .
At the risk of sounding Awfully NBC this morning, TV Column fans, we must also confirm that the network's Entertainment division is seriously considering doing four straight situation comedies live on its Saturday night schedule the night of Nov. 2 . . .
The network tried it -- for the first time in 30 years -- last February with an episode of "Gimme a Break" . . .
This time the 8 to 10 p.m. live lineup would include "Gimme a Break," "The Facts of Life" and the two new season entries, "The Golden Girls" and "227" . . .
The shows would be produced from several sound stages in Los Angeles . . . and after the live broadcasts for the East Coast audiences, all four casts would head for A Big Party where they could sit down and see themselves in the taped versions as they played on the West Coast!!!! And Finally
This exclusive item from the Captain Airwaves What I Did on My Summer Vacation Notes:
Robb Weller, cohost of "Entertainment Tonight," used to be the head cheerleader for those tough University of Washington Huskie footballers in Seattle . . .
Out there in God's Country they'll tell you that it was Weller, when he led the cheers, who first invented:
The Wave!!!! . . .
(You expected maybe the microchip?) . . .