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Welcome to TVBR's Daily Epaper
Volume 22, Issue 105, Jim Carnegie, Editor & Publisher
Friday Morning May 27th, 2005
Holiday Schedule
TVBR returns Tuesday, May 31st, following the Memorial Day Weekend. There will also be no MediaMix this afternoon. However, the RBR/TVBR newsroom and offices will be open all day today as our staff stays on top of the information you'll need to do business next week.


TV News®

On 12/31/08, kiss analog TV good-bye
The House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet entertained a panel of no less than 11 witnesses as it discussed the Staff Discussion Draft of the DTV Transition Act of 2005. At this point, nothing is set in stone, much less ink. But we will say that in the packed room on the 3rd Floor of the Rayburn House Office Building, there did not seem to be a single person who objected to setting 12/31/08 as the last day for analog TV broadcast. House Energy and Commerce Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX) said he had been persuaded to abandon his preferred 12/31/06 by, among others, subcom Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). "This date certain will not become a date uncertain," said Barton. "I would say that this date is probably frozen." He noted that cordial negotiations with Democrats had failed to yield agreement on several issues. The current bill - - as yet unnumbered - - is a starting point to initiate public discussion, with much still on the table. Telecom Ranking Member Ed Markey (D-MA) laid out the areas of agreement and disagreement. He said that everyone was on the same page on the deadline and the need for consumer education about the upcoming changes. However, he said five elements were absent from the draft: (1) public interest requirements for broadcasters; (2) multicast must-carry provisions; (3) codification of down-converting back to analog at cable headends; (4) addressing competition and consolidation issues; and (5) taking care of consumers left behind after the transition. We'll have much more on this in days to come.

Downconverter subsidies is the sore thumb
When it comes to the DTV conversion, the biggest sticking point between the Democrats and Republicans is over the issue of subsidizing consumers who are neither subscribers to cable nor satellite, and who have only analog equipment. Democrats noted that conservative estimates peg the government's take from an auction of spectrum returned by broadcasters 12/31/08 will be 10B. Other estimates put that total much nearer 28B-30B. The number most frequently used as a total of households receiving over-the-air service only is 20M. Rick Boucher (D-VA) noted that if the government bought a total of 73M owners of analog-only TVs a 50 dollar converter box, that would total 3.7B. "Don't anger millions of American needlessly," he said. "Don't be stingy." Numerous Republicans said they were open for discussing subsidies, but wanted them to be limited and means-tested. Democrats charged that the entire DTV bill package was being driven by the Republicans not so much for the purpose of drafting effective telecommunications policy, but rather to get the auction under way in order to help reduce the overall US budget deficit. In fact, many predicted a consumer revolt when screens suddenly go blank. "If the bill passed on Tuesday, we'd all be impeached on Wednesday," said one Democratic congressman.

CBS and Fox celebrate ratings success
With the end of the May sweeps marking the traditional end of the regular TV season, CBS is celebrating a decisive win for overall viewership and in most demos. However, strong showings by "American Idol" in the last two days of the sweeps kept Fox on top in the lucrative 18-49 demo. An estimate 29.4 million people watched Wednesday night as Carrie Underwood became the 4th Idol winner, topping last year's finale audience of 28.8 million. But while the 18-49 crown was denied it (and CBS folks note that if Fox hadn't had the Super Bowl rotation this year, it would not have won the demo), CBS executives are giddy at how their network did this season. When all of the numbers are added up, CBS projects that it will have nearly three million more viewers than 2nd place ABC - - the biggest victory margin in 16 years. "And in a seismic nightly shift, CBS will win Thursday, the most important night of the week, in viewers for the third consecutive year and adults 25-54 and adults 18-49 for the first time in 20 years. Through Sunday, here's a look at how the networks stacked up for this season.

Network ratings through week 35 of this season

Network 

Viewers*

Change

Adults 25-54**

Change

Adults 18-49**

Change

CBS

12.94

-1%

4.9/12

flat

4.0/11

3%

ABC

10.05

12%

4.3/10

13%

3.7/10

12%

Fox

9.90

3%

4.3/10

5%

4.1/11

2%

NBC

9.78

-11%

4.2/10

-14%

3.5/9

-19%

*millions **rating/share Source: CBS calculations from Nielsen Media Research data


Sinclair won't drop
"Nightline" death list this time
Unlike last year, when Sinclair Broadcast Group refused to let its eight ABC affiliates air Ted Koppel's reading of the names of US soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan on ABC's "Nightline" (5/3/04 TVBR #86), Sinclair is giving Koppel a thumbs up for another reading of more than 900 names this Monday (5/30). What's changed, according to Sinclair, is the timing. The company had accused Koppel of advancing an anti-war political agenda last year, but it says it is appropriate now to honor fallen service members on Memorial Day. "Sinclair Broadcast Group applauds Nightline for paying tribute to those service men and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by reading their names on Memorial Day, a day set aside to honor our fallen heroes. Unlike Nightline's reading of the names last year, which coincided with the start of the May ratings sweeps, we feel that this year's Memorial Day selection is the appropriate setting to remember those who have sacrificed their lives to keep all Americans safe and free. We thank our U.S. service men and women for their infinite courage and perseverance in the constant face of danger," the company said in a statement.

Shapiro said to be leaving NBC News
According to the New York Times, NBC News President Neal Shapiro has given notice that he wants to step down. It may be a case of deciding to jump before he's pushed. Just two weeks ago NBC Universal Television Group President Jeff Zucker ousted Tom Touchet, who had been hand-picked by Shapiro, from his job as executive producer of the "Today" show. A day before the Times story, Daily News columnist Lloyd Grove had reported that Zucker had been sounding out potential candidates for Shapiro's job. So, by telling Zucker and NBC Universal Chairman Bob Wright that he wants to leave, Shapiro may have been ensuring that he gets to depart on his own terms. So far, there's been no official confirmation from NBC Universal that its top news post is going to be open.

Time Warner consolidates cable news
With new fiber-optic cable linking Time Warner Cable's all-news cable outlets in New York City, Albany, Syracuse and Rochester, the company is consolidating some of the three upstate operations in Albany. According to the Albany Times Union, 38 jobs are being eliminated out of 260 in the news divisions at the three operations. The biggest cuts will be in Syracuse, although some staffers are being offered the chance to relocate to Albany. News 10 Now for Syracuse will now be anchored out of Albany, where Capital News 9 is produced, although weather reports for both will now come from Syracuse. Although some anchor and technical jobs are moving to Albany, the Syracuse Post-Standard quotes the local TW manager as saying that there will be no reduction in the local reporting staff. Fewer staffing changes are planned at R News in Rochester and the consolidation upstate will not have any impact on staffing at NY1 in Manhattan.


Adbiz©

ABC just about done with upfront deals
ABC is reportedly nearly finished with upfront wheeling and dealing, and is expected to finish by COB today. Strong shows like "Desperate Housewives," "Lost" and "Grey's Anatomy" helped the net dramatically this time around. ABC was able to secure CPM increases of 4% to 6%. Meanwhile, most of the other big four are still in the talking stages with media agencies.

Anonymous on the upfront...
Here's an in-depth look at the current state of the 2005-2006 upfront from a major seller in the marketplace, who wishes to remain anonymous: "Right now there are very preliminary kinds of conversation. Everyone is saying, sit tight. We'll call them and ask if anything is going on...anything happening, can we do anything? No, just sit tight, we're trying to get our budgets, etc. I think they all want to know what the networks are doing because the networks are obviously sending a signal that they're going to be very accommodating this year. So if that's still the linchpin, and regardless of what everyone says in the trades, it is the linchpin of your national buy as far as television is concerned, you've got to do that first. So everything else is being held back. Yes, we are having some substantial conversations with a couple of people, but I don't know if any of it will pan out. As soon as the networks and the agencies get their deals moving, then the rest of the marketplace will move." | More... |

Coke to give Fresca new look
Coca-Cola said Wednesday it plans a makeover for its Fresca diet soft drink in the latest move to win over increasingly health-conscious, calorie-phobic consumers. Beginning in September, cans and bottles of the citrus-flavored drink will feature a new, more contemporary logo and graphics. It is the first makeover Fresca's green and yellow packaging has had since 1996. Two new flavors - - Sparkling Peach Citrus Fresca and Sparkling Black Cherry Fresca - - will also hit grocery store shelves as part of the brand's revamp, says Reuters. The original Fresca's flavor will remain the same. The move to update the 39-year-old Fresca brand comes as Coke is rolling out a number of new diet drinks. Fresca's relaunch will be accompanied by a campaign developed by Campbell Mithun Minneapolis. The effort will emphasize the drink's sophistication, and tag, Fresca is "ideal for moments of perfectly relaxed pleasure."




Washington Beat
Uncaptioned tornado advice: 8K a pop
A Washington DC-area thunderstorm/tornado watch emergency which occurred almost exactly a year ago has left in its wake 40K in fines to local TV stations. ABC Channel 7 WJLA-TV, NBC Channel 4 WRC-TV and Channel 5 Fox WTTG-TV each took hits for their ongoing weather team coverage. The fines were for failure to issue emergency warnings in a manner accessible to the hearing-impaired, essentially via close captioning. Each took an 8K hit for each instance in warned parts of its audience in certain locations to get away from windows and to take cover in basements or interior rooms. In all five instances, close captioning was not included during the warning. WJLA took one FCC fine strike, when Doug Hill warned viewers in the Leesburg-Lucketts VA area to go into hiding at about 6:50. At WRC, Bob Ryan warned southern Prince Georges County MD between 8:42-8:49, and then all viewers at 9:02, without the benefit of accompanying text, resulting in a total strike of 16K. WTTG' Gwen Tolbart warned Frederick and Hagerstown MD at 6:20 and Lovettsville, Leesburg and Lucketts VA at 6:45 without text support, also garnering a double hit of 16K. All three actions are notices of apparent liability and may be appealed.


Programming
CBS sets June 7 debut for "Fire Me...Please"
As the networks search for summer programming that will draw a few more viewers than reruns of regular season series, more reality TV is an obvious choice. In a reverse play on a formula that has worked for NBC, with people trying to get a famous rich guy to hire them, CBS is going to show people trying their best to get fired. "Fire Me...Please," with MTV VJ Dave Holmes as host, will debut Tuesday, June 7th in the 9-10 pm (ET) slot. Here's how the network explains the show's premise: "To most people, getting fired seems like it would be the end of the world but, what if getting fired meant winning $25,000? On 'Fire Me...Please,' participants begin jobs at the same time in the morning with the goal of getting fired as close to 3:00 pm as possible. The one getting fired closest to 3:00 pm without going over wins the cash prize. Contestants are not allowed to ask to be fired, break the law or say they are on a game show. As participants push the envelope to earn their pink slip, hidden cameras capture the action as they drive their managers and co-workers crazy with outrageous behavior." Eric Schotz and Bill Paolantonio are the executive producers for LMNO Productions and Magic Molehill Productions in association with BBC Worldwide. Colin Davis and Robin Meltzer are executive producers for BBC Worldwide.

NBC looking to cable for filler?
Remember back when ABC was in the ratings cellar and it started running "Monk" from USA Network to try to attract viewers? Well, now that NBC is the network suffering from declining ratings, the New York Post says it's about to do the same thing. According to the newspaper, the Peacock net has struck a deal with Court TV to air episodes of "Psychic Detectives" this summer as the 8-9 pm (ET) Wednesday night lead-in to "Law & Order." NBC had previously aired episodes of Court TV's "Forensic Files" back in 2002 (when NBC was not so ratings challenged) and the two co-produce "Dateline/Court TV" specials.

Publisher observation: WOW what a light bulb idea as ABC did with Monk, which is a good comedy program and an Emmy winner to boot. Now - Attention NBC the Peacock looking for Content - Hello again - You can Revitalize the show you cancelled - American Dreams. You know my position and passion on this program or if you have forgot, then re-read it - TA DUM - 04/29/05 TVBR #85. Keep this series going and capitalize on the already loyal audience. Plus I see at least another spin off of American Dreams and it is entertainment youth driven. NBC if you could see past your feathers it is already in your face. American Dreams, youth, dance and cable is the place for this program.


Ratings & Research
TiVo users just sort of liked Raymond
The series finale of CBS' "Everybody Loves Raymond" wasn't nearly as big of a hit with TiVo owners as with the broader population covered by the Nielsen ratings. It finished as #11 in the TiVo ratings, well behind leaders "Desperate Housewives" on ABC and "American Idol" on Fox. | Tivo Top 25 List |


Stock Talk
GDP numbers boost stocks
Stock traders cheered as the government reported that the economy grew at an annual rate of 3.5% in Q1, rather than the 3.1% rate estimated a month ago. The Dow Industrials gained 80 points, or 0.8%, to finish at 10,538.

TV stocks went along for the ride. Young shot up 20.4% as the day's top performer. ACME rose 14.3%, although it remains well into penny stock territory at four bucks a share. Most other TV stocks were up 1-2%.


Stocks

Here's how stocks fared on Thursday

Company Symbol Close Change Company Symbol Close Change

Acme

ACME

4.00

+0.50

McGraw-Hill

MHP

43.78

+0.47

Belo

BLC

24.42

+0.19

Media General

MEG

60.77

+0.07

Clear Channel

CCU

30.14

-0.06

Meredith

MDP

50.20

+0.84

Disney

DIS

27.80

+0.15

News Corp.

NWS

16.66

unch

Emmis

EMMS

17.96

+0.18

Nexstar

NXST

5.09

+0.23

Entravision

EVC

7.63

+0.10

NY Times

NYT

31.64

-0.27

Fisher

FSCI

50.26

-0.11

Paxson

PAX

0.74

unch

Gannett

GCI

75.02

-0.29

Saga Commun.

SGA

14.11

+0.42

Gen. Electric

GE

36.94

+0.08

Scripps

SSP

51.00

+0.29

Granite

GBTVK

0.19

-0.01

Sinclair

SBGI

8.67

+0.14

Gray

GTN

11.90

+0.19

Time Warner

TWX

17.57

+0.01

Gray, C1. A

GTNa

11.15

-0.43

Tribune

TRB

36.44

+0.11

Hearst-Argyle

HTV

24.99

+0.05

Univision

UVN

26.64

+0.13

Jeff-Pilot

JP

50.34

+0.86

Viacom, Cl. A

VIA

35.34

+0.11

Journal Comm.

JRN

16.69

+0.16

Viacom, Cl. B

VIAb

35.20

+0.10

Liberty Corp

LC

36.60

+0.21

Wash. Post

WPO

824.75

-4.95

LIN TV

TVL

14.59

+0.04

Young

YBTVA

6.00

+1.02


Bounceback

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Upped & Tapped

Two join WMAQ
Alexander Perez is heading to NBC O&O WMAQ-TV (Ch. 5) Chicago as a general assignment reporter. He has been at KVIA-TV (Ch. 7, ABC) El Paso. Joining WMAQ as a senior sports producer is Tony Capriolo, who has been at Comcast Sportsnet in Chicago.

Malone promoted
at GE lending unit
GE Commercial Finance has named Robert Malone a Vice President, focusing on the media sector. Since joining the company in 2001, Malone has underwritten transactions in the radio, outdoor, publishing and technology sectors.


International

UK's OFCOM
unveils relaxed
broadcasting code

UK radio and TV regulator OFCOM has unveiled a new, relaxed broadcasting code which will allow almost anything on the air after 9PM, but broadcasters in return must take all reasonable steps to protect children from programming that could "seriously impair their moral development," more specifically defined as verbal and physical violence, use of drugs, smoking, and sexual behavior, restricted before 9PM. The new code takes effect July. Hard-core porn rated R18 movies will be completely banned from transmission, even with the present pay-per-view system. Rules preventing product placement may be relaxed as well. OFCOM said that it was retaining the existing rules banning product placement but acknowledged "the pressure on traditional broadcast advertising as a key source of funding". It added that it would look again at the issue later this year in a wide-ranging review of the TV ad market.


TVBR Radar 2005
Television News you won't read any where else. TVBR--First, Accurate, and Independently Owned.

DC stations want LPM halted
There are two very different views of how Local People Meters (LPM) are working in the Washington, DC market. "Nielsen's numbers are wrong, because the new Local People Meter System is not counting lots of people," said Allbritton Communications Sr. VP Jerry Fritz. The faulting rates are simply off the chart. Nielsen won't fix them before it launches the new service and we don't like that." Specifically, Allbritton, Gannett, News Corporation and Tribune, which collectively own five of the six major commercial stations in the DC market, want Nielsen to put LPMs on hold until it corrects what they identify as problems and get Media Rating Council (MRC) accreditation for the LPM service. That's not likely to happen. "The sample is right on," said Nielsen spokesman Jack Loftus. TVBR observation: Little noticed, Nielsen last week got MRC accreditation for its San Francisco LPM system, the second market to earn that distinction after the original LPM market, Boston. But there are still issues to be resolved in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. We find it interesting that no one in Philadelphia has asked for an LPM delay, although News Corp. and Tribune both have stations there as well. The LPM opponents know that DC is not just another market - - the Senators and Congressmen who write the laws, as well as their families, watch WJLA, WUSA, WTTG, WDCA and WBDC. They are going to hear the complaints about LPMs. And while Allbritton insists that it doesn't want government regulation, but rather for the TV industry to resolve this within the family, News Corp. has been pressing, and pressing hard, for Congress to get involved. We have warned that this is a dangerous and stupid move by Rupert Murdoch - - and that he'll hurt himself and every other broadcaster if he succeeds - - but he knows that DC is the place to fight this battle. Nielsen had better wise up and marshal its own forces on Capitol Hill. 05/26/05 TVBR #104

Andy Donchin on the upfront
Carat Americas Director of Broadcast Buying - still in the talking phase right now and thinks it will be heating up soon. Any programs out there getting your attention? "No. I'm still definitely a believer in broadcast television, but support cable in a big way, and syndication. There's really not to say right now, as I said, we're still feeling each other out and talking-kicking the tires.
TVBR observation: We told ya - no big rush and business will be under the microscope so best get your business plans in order now if you want to compete in 2006. Radio & Television Business Report's June issue has a close-up view. If you didn't sign in you won't get it. 05/26/05 TVBR #104

Starcom MediaVest CEO Renetta McCann: Print needs more online, wireless delivery
Print publishers are falling behind other types of media in their ability to deliver content over broadband and wireless. McCann predicted consumers will "engage with content primarily onscreen and not on the printed page," and print publishers must adapt or face the consequences. Publisher note: Agree with Renetta 100% that is why RBR & TVBR stopped printing weekly and deliver content with solid presentation and interaction with our colleagues via this morning e-paper. Others just don't get it. Plus, Radio & Television Business Report - The First Monthly Business Magazine - was the First to go Digital 2 years ago with audio and video capabilities. Only problem is not all consumers, including the media, understand Rich Media and digital publishing. If you want to learn to maximize and get familiar with digital - see our June issue soon. 05/26/05 TVBR #104

Stern will have fewer commercials
Zen Master Mel Karmazin says fewer commercials than the 20 minutes per hour that his show currently carries on Infinity. any other big personalities going to be signed by Sirius? Don Imus? "He's very greedy," Karmazin said, suggesting that he'd like to have the "I-Man," but doubted that the math would work. RBR observation: Speaking of math, what was Mel smoking before he suggested that satellite radio could reach 300 million subscribers? What a salesman. But at some point satellite radio is going to have to prove to Wall Street that it can turn a profit. Sirius claims it can go cash flow positive in 2007. But rival XM has to meet its own cash flow positive commitment this year. We remain skeptical that either company will ever reach that point. It's a good thing Mel already has that waterfront house in Naples, Florida.
05/26/05 RBR #104

Some real ad nauseum
Energy company BP has joined Morgan-Stanley in instituting a policy in which any magazine advertising they may have booked is to be pulled if the magazine contains any editorial the company feels is negative or otherwise objectionable. The BP directive asks that publishers notify both their sales and editorial staffs about the policy.
TVBR observation: Editorial department here. We note this because this type of thing is just as applicable to radio and TV advertising. We dearly love our sales staff, especially on payday, but it is absolutely critical that we have an arms-length relationship when it comes to content. Without editorial integrity, there would be no point in reading us, nor would there be any point in advertising with us. Our sales staff has yet to be granted editorial privileges, just as our editorial staff has no say in what ads are sold, what they say or what they look like. Advertisers, if you want to control editorial in the magazines you advertise in, we suggest you do what Clear Channel did: Buy one.
05/25/05 TVBR #103


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