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Study cites 'sleaze' on MTV

NEW YORK -- Approaching the first anniversary of Janet Jackson's famed wardrobe malfunction, a study released yesterday criticized MTV for the ''incessant sleaze" of steamy programming aimed at young people.

During one week last March, the watchdog Parents Television Council said it counted 3,056 flashes of nudity or sexual situations and 2,881 verbal references to sex.

''MTV has clearly chosen to cater to the lowest common denominator, to offer the cheapest form of programming to entice young boys . . . dangling forbidden fruit before their eyes," said Brent Bozell, PTC president and conservative activist.

MTV labeled the report unfair and said the group ignores the network's public service efforts, like its Emmy-winning ''Choose or Lose" campaign on the presidential election.

An independent analyst said the findings shouldn't come as any surprise to people who watch MTV regularly but would be eye-opening to people who don't -- just like the MTV-produced Super Bowl halftime show did when exposed to a large audience on CBS last year.

''There are a lot of things that most rational parents of 12-year-olds would be uncomfortable with their children consuming," said Robert Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University.

PTC decided to look at MTV's programming after the Jackson incident and picked the network's annual ''Spring Break" week of shows to study.

During the week, the PTC said it recorded 3,127 instances of profane dialogue ''bleeped" out and another 1,518 other instances of unedited rough language.

MTV spokeswoman Jeannie Kedas said the network follows the same standards as broadcasters. MTV reflects the culture and what its viewers are interested in, she said.

''I have done thousands of these studies over the years and I knew these numbers would be troublesome," Bozell said. ''I had no idea it would be this bad."

ABC mulls changes at 'Nightline'

Top Disney management has sought -- and last week received -- proposals from all of ABC's divisions about possible uses for the 11:30 p.m. time slot.

ABC News has asked to expand ''Nightline" from a half-hour to an hour, with the possibility of going live from Times Square studios (the show has always originated in Washington and is taped earlier on each broadcast day).

There also is speculation that the show will not only go ''lighter," to cite the word of one source, but use two anchors -- one female and one male.

And the male anchor? Sources say Ted Koppel, who has fought the changes, will almost certainly leave ''Nightline" before the end of the year, when his contract is up. But now, the name that has been floated as his replacement is George Stephanopoulos. The anchor of ''This Week" for the past couple of years, Stephanopoulos has subbed frequently on ''Nightline," and has built his ''live" chops on ''Good Morning, America."

This, of course, would leave a vacancy at ''This Week." And who might fill that role?

Koppel, who, sources say, could be named the new host of ''This Week" if Disney accepts the proposal for a relaunch of ''Nightline."

NEWSDAY

A&E lands hit with 'Sopranos' reruns

A&E has whacked the cable competition for the syndicated rights to ''The Sopranos," but HBO is the one making the killing: a record $2.5 million per episode, according to sources.

The basic cable network outbid TNT, Spike, and other rivals to air ''The Sopranos" beginning in fall 2006. The agreement entitles A&E to as many as 78 episodes -- depending on how many creator David Chase provides for the sixth season currently in preproduction -- plus any additional ones should HBO manage to make more.

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

Globe on NECN

Here's what's happening on ''Around the Globe" today:

12:30 p.m.: ''Globe at Home" -- Living/Arts writer Bella English and TV commentator Callie Crossley, a spokesperson for Divas Uncorked Inc., on wine, women, and people of color.

4 p.m.: ''Around the Globe"

6:30 p.m.: ''New England Business Day"

8 p.m.: ''NewsNight"

Schedule is subject to change.

Radio highlights

9 a.m. WCRB-FM (102.5) -- Mozart's Flute and Harp Concerto; Schubert's Symphony No. 6; Haydn's Symphony No. 89.

7 p.m. WUMB-FM (91.9) -- ''Mountain Stage." Guests: Greg Brown; Rachael Davis, Boston Music Award winner.

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