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OFF LIMITS

Snow-lo contendere: The Moffat Tunnel Commission is plenty steamed over the Winter Park Recreational Association's efforts to put it on ice. So after the city-owned ski resort hired big-time lobbyist Pancho Hays to snow the legislature, the chairmen of the bore tapped the powerhouse legal firm of Brownstein Hyatt Farber & Strickland to fight for their life at the Capitol. "When someone pulls out a big bat like Pancho Hays, we have to have at least as big a bat," says commission president Edward "Jake" Jakubowski Jr.. The Moffat commissioners, who earned their spot on the WPRA's hit list by trying to renegotiate a sweetheart lease that gives the ski area free use of a 9.5-acre chunk of state land at the base of the resort, are "99 percent certain" they'll file a court action seeking to overturn the lease, Jakubowski adds.

Uncertain until early this week, however, is whether Brownstein et al. would be doing the legal work. But after members of the firm discussed potential conflicts--after all, partner Steve Farber had worked for the City of Denver last year in its negotiations with the WPRA--they decided to take the case. And it's all downhill from here.

Access to grind: As though public-broadcasting stations weren't nervous enough over budget cuts, on Sunday's Face the Nation Senator Larry Pressler of South Dakota said he'd chatted with several telecommunications firms interested in buying the Corporation for Public Broadcasting--or at least some of its outlets. "It would be very dismal if that happened," says John Schwartz, who founded public station KBDI and sees plenty of right turns ahead on the information highway. Schwartz is now president of the six-year-old, Boulder-based 90's Channel, the "only full-time liberal television network"--albeit one that produces just two hours of programming a week, according to Tele-Communications Inc., which carries The 90's on seven systems.

For now, at least.
In August 1992 TCI told Schwartz it planned to drop The 90's altogether. Schwartz took the Englewood-based telecommunications giant to court and won a temporary reprieve. "We've got a contract that says they can't throw us off until October," he says. In the meantime, though, TCI has announced plans for its own political-programming package. "Just look at the biased lineup TCI is offering," says Schwartz. "There is National Empowerment Television, starring Newt Gingrich and the National Rifle Association; the American Conservative Network; and two nonpartisan channels---C-SPAN2 and the American Political Network."

TCI's road map doesn't end there, either. Last month the company revealed it had agreed to buy a stake in the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.

Space cadets: Every night, Channel 7 conducts a whirlwind tour of global news in the ludicrous "Around the World in a Minute." But Channel 4 managed to shave several seconds off that time with its Denver-centric take on the week's big international story, the earthquake in Japan. KCNC's 6:30 a.m. broadcast Thursday led with the earthshaking tidbit that a second American had died in the disaster--and made no mention of the fact that, overnight, another thousand non-Americans had been added to the death toll, which now tops 5,000...Something apparently rattled veteran Rocky Mountain News TV scribe Dusty Saunders last week--maybe Northern Exposure heartthrob Janine Turner was in the neighborhood. How else to account for his reference to the Star Trek spinoff as "Deep Six Nine

 
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