The network shuffle in Baltimore seems to have wound down with yesterday's announcement that the Hearst Broadcasting Group's Channel 11, after years with CBS, will be affiliated with NBC in a multi-year deal ...

The move completes a realignment of affiliates in the 22nd-largest market that began in mid-June and eventually affected affiliates for ABC, CBS and NBC. Fox Broadcasting, which had been expected to pounce on one of the VHF (channels 2-13) stations as they were abandoned, instead remains with Channel 45 (WBFF). One of the last opportunities for Fox to move was precluded earlier in the week when Paramount Communications Inc. signed Channel 54 (WNUV) for its new network ...

The actual changes will have to be coordinated among the three broadcast groups owning the stations and the three big networks. They could take place as early as September, in time for the new fall primetime season, but might be delayed until the end of the year at the latest ...

When it all began in June, NBC was promised to E.W. Scripps-owned Channel 2 (WMAR); CBS was on Channel 11 (WBAL); and ABC occupied Group W-owned Channel 13 (WJZ), the Orioles outlet and local news leader ...

After the switch viewers will find ABC on WMAR, NBC on WBAL and CBS on WJZ ...

Philip Stolz, WBAL general manager, yesterday called NBC "an excellent fit for our kind of station. We're picking up the 'Today' show, 'Nightly News' is in second place, the primetime lineup looks pretty solid, and then all those sports are back on NBC" ...

He wouldn't predict when the affiliate shuffle will kick in but hopes it will be "sooner rather than later," perhaps by the mid-September start of the new season ...

Fox reportedly talked to Hearst about WBAL, but the lack of a news presence on Fox reportedly was a big factor in the station's decision to go with NBC ...

Fox executives did not return our calls yesterday ...

Now This

ABC News, which doesn't lose 'em very often these days, is bidding farewell to David Doss, senior producer at "PrimeTime Live." He'll become producer of Tom Brokaw's specials at NBC News ...

NBC News will announce today that Jeff Zucker will return to the "Today" show as executive producer, probably by the end of August ...

He will replace Steve Friedman, whose status at the network is unclear, although his contract runs through the end of the year with a one-year option ...

Friedman was executive producer of "Today" for seven years when he first left the network to start up the syndicated "USA Today: The Television Show" in 1988. That turned out to be a flop, and he returned as executive producer of "NBC Nightly News" in 1990. Three years later he was due to produce one of NBC's primetime magazines when Andy Lack took over as president of NBC News from Michael Gartner. Lack canceled those plans and instead put Zucker in charge of "Now With Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric," and returned Friedman as executive producer of "Today" ...

Zucker, a favorite of anchor Couric, first took over "Today" in 1992. A year later Gartner made him executive producer of both the morning show and "NBC Nightly News With Tom Brokaw." That lasted about a month, and Lack gave him "Now," where he could work with his friend Couric again ...

Zucker recently flirted with ABC News, but sources indicate the network wasn't prepared to move Rick Kaplan out as executive producer of "ABC World News Tonight" to give Zucker the job he wanted ...

There has been talk that Friedman might executive-produce Tom Snyder's pending late-night show on CBS. Friedman and Lack reportedly met yesterday to discuss possible special projects if he decides to stay with the network ...

With the return of Zucker to the morning show, senior producer Tammy Haddad could be getting a new assignment -- the two reportedly don't get along ...

More NBC

The world will little note nor long remember, but with a second-place finish again last week, "NBC Nightly News" has finished ahead of "CBS Evening News" in the battle for runner-up to ABC 30 times in the past calendar year. And with 10 ties with CBS besides, NBC can -- and will -- count 40 wins in the past 52 weeks ...

Last week ABC averaged a 9.3 rating and a 21 percent audience share compared with an 8.1/18 for NBC and a 7.5/16 for 12-30-10 CBS ...

Hallmark Cards Inc. has announced formation of a subsidiary, Hallmark Entertainment Inc., to produce and distribute family-oriented TV programming ...

Hallmark has merged its Signboard Hill Productions with the recently acquired RHI Entertainment Inc. to form the new entity. Robert Halmi Jr., president and CEO of RHI, will be president and CEO of Hallmark Entertainment ...

The combined studios will produce more than 40 network projects -- including CBS's "Scarlett" -- this year, making it the largest supplier of network movies and miniseries in the world ...

Those product-poor folks at PBS are already thinking Hallmark. Network president Erv Duggan on Tuesday told visiting TV writers he was "troubled about the future of drama and fiction at PBS. And it is the economics of the proposition that troubles us." He added he would like to bring such "Hallmark Hall of Fame" productions as "Miss Rose White" to the network ...

"I intend to enter into discussions with corporations and producers," said Duggan, "about protecting outstanding American drama on public television" ...

PBS programming chief Jennifer Lawson, in a very politic way, assured TV writers meeting in Universal City, Calif., yesterday that Duggan hadn't usurped her role ...

"There's a misperception," she said, "about the role that {former PBS president} Bruce Christensen played. The wonderful thing was that over time our taste and judgment became so much in sync that it was perceived that there was little or no involvement by Bruce in the programming, there was such a synergy there. With Ervin coming in as president of PBS there's a sense because he's a new person in the PBS family that he is playing a different role ... but we expect that the president of PBS, who has to defend programming on Capitol Hill and to viewers, should know and be apprised of the critical decisions that we make. We've always operated in a collegial way. That was true of Bruce, and that's certainly true of Ervin" ...

As the tour wound down out on the Coast, word finally surfaced of a weird drive-by shooting with a paint gun of Memphis Commercial Appeal writer Tom Walter as he waited for a CBS bus outside a trendy Melrose Avenue restaurant in L.A. one night last week ...

The network had just fed the critics at Citrus. They were milling around outside waiting to head back to the Universal Hilton headquarters when someone in a passing car let Walter have it with a paint squib. Luckily the pellet landed below his eye, but it drew blood and painted his face blue ...

Walter recalled in a recent column that a solicitous CBS Broadcast Group president Howard Stringer advised him to "Sue Larry {Tisch, CBS chairman} for all he's worth! Don't stop until you get to a billion!" ...

A paramedic who patched him up told Walter that ordinarily Melrose was not considered gang territory. Police were worried enough that they sent up a helicopter in an unsuccessful search for the car ...

Black Entertainment Television will present "O.J. Simpson: A Media Blitz" tonight at 6:30 (repeated at 11:30) ...

The 30-minute cable special will focus on the extensive coverage of the Simpson case in the past five-plus weeks, with excerpts of local and national news reports, a segment on how vendors have capitalized on the situation, with commentary by Sister2Sister editor Jamie Brown, Court TV reporter Carol Randolph, CNN's Marc Watts and BET reporter Stephanie Frederics. Kathy Andrews hosts ...

Tuesday night the conclusion of "Loyalty and Betrayal: The Story of the American Mob" on Fox averaged a 5.2 rating and a 9 share in the national averages ...

On NBC, "TV Nation" averaged a 6.8/12, and "Dateline NBC" did an 8.9/16 ...

Locally, "Loyalty" did an 8.7/15 on WTTG, "TV Nation" a 6.2/11 and "Dateline" a 7.5/13 on WRC. Each national ratings point represents 942,000 TV homes; a local point, 18,554 TV homes ...