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Welcome to TVBR's Daily Epaper
Volume 22, Issue 146, Jim Carnegie, Editor & Publisher
Wednesday Morning July 27th, 2005

TV News®

TV ratings bill gets airing today
Today's the day that the pros and cons of Sen. Conrad Burns' (R-MT) bill to regulate TV ratings gets hashed out on Capitol Hill. Burns, who'll be chairing the hearing by the Senate Commerce Committee, insists that making Media Ratings Council (MRC) accreditation mandatory will improve TV ratings - - a view that will be supported by witnesses including Tribune Broadcasting President Pat Mullen, while Nielsen Media Research CEO Susan Whiting, pictured, will be trying to head off the proposed clamp down on her company's business. Burns insists that his legislation is needed because of complaints from broadcasters about Nielsen's Local People Meters (LPM), now deployed in seven top 10 markets, with the other three coming in a few months. "Since Nielsen will not agree to the private industry process voluntarily, we have no choice but to step in with this simple, direct, and minimally intrusive legislation. This bill is not about Nielsen Media Research. It is not about the Local People Meter system. It does not create government standards, regulation or any government role. This bill is about restoring the authority that the Congress clearly intended the industry to have to ensure minimum standards for ratings accuracy," Burns insisted when he introduced the bill a few weeks ago. So, what would S.1372 really do?

| Read it here |

TVBR observation: OK, if you've read the bill, can you show us anything in there that will improve ratings participation by young demos, reduce fault rates or make LPM ratings data look more like the results of the previous meter/diary system? That's what this fight with Nielsen by News Corporation, Tribune and some other broadcasters (now with the support from the NAB) is all about. If you can see those things in the bill, you're seeing something that we can't find. Rather, we see frivolous lawsuits ahead whenever a station owner doesn't like their ratings, higher ratings costs for all broadcasters and slower progress on ratings innovation and upgrades.

Cardiss Collins blasts Burns bill hearing
The former Congresswoman isn't just upset that she wasn't invited to testify - - there's not one non-white person on the witness list for today's Senate hearing to discuss whether LPMs undercount minorities. Collins, who is African American, chaired the Independent Task Force on Television Measurement, comprised of 19 industry, community and business leaders who spent over eight months evaluating Nielsen's measurement of minority audiences. The Task Force presented its findings in a report that included recommendations in March (3/24/05 TVBR #59) and, more recently, announced its opposition to the Burns bill (7/21/05 TVBR #142). "I find it hard to believe that the Senate would hold a hearing regarding fairness in ratings without receiving testimony from at least one person of color - - especially since this legislation would negatively impact minority communities and is purportedly designed to protect them. Clearly, this panel is not representative of the changing demographics of America," Collins said.

Gannett ups its dividend
Shareholders of Gannett Company will find a little something extra in their next quarterly dividend check. The newspaper/TV company's board of directors has increased the quarterly dividend by two cents per share to 29 cents - - the 37th dividend increase since Gannett went public in 1967. The increased dividend will be paid October 3rd to shareholders of record on September 16th. "This is the 149th consecutive quarterly dividend since Gannett went public. Our dividend increase reflects Gannett's financial strength and its focus on continuing to return value to our shareholders," said Chairman Doug McCorkindale.

Spitzer is singing Adelstein's tune
Democratic FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein has taken the lead role in examining payola, 21st Century style. It therefore should not be surprising that he was quick to praise New York AG Eliot Spitzer's collar of Sony (7/26/05 TVBR #145), and his eagerness to take the ball and run with it himself. "We've seen a lot of smoke around payola for a while, but now we know it's coming from a real fire," he said. "It's time to dump a bucket of cold water on it. It's unfair to listeners if they hear songs on the radio because someone was paid off, not because it's good music. We need an immediate investigation to determine whether these practices violate federal payola laws. I've asked Mr. Spitzer to share all of the evidence that he has uncovered with the FCC." In addition to the issue of pay-for-say, Adelstein has been critical of incidents of pay-for-play, both between government agencies and journalists and manufacturers and "experts/product reviewers," pseudo news stories and undisclosed product placements. Also jumping onboard is Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), who wants to bring the payola issue back to Capitol Hill: "I was pleased to hear that New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has come to a settlement with Sony BMG Music Entertainment. The Attorney General's investigation found that record labels had been regularly making payments or providing gifts to radio stations or their employees in exchange for airplay. As part of the settlement, Sony will halt the practice of making payoffs to radio stations and provide full disclosure of all items of value provided to radio stations. I have long been concerned about these payola schemes, which combined with increasing concentration and vertical integration in the radio industry, have the strong potential for limiting creativity, localism and diversity on our airwaves. I have introduced legislation in the past to promote competition in the radio and concert industries and, while this settlement is a step in the right direction, it provides even more evidence that it is time for Congress to address these issues at a national level."

TVBR observation: We are torn in our feelings about Spitzer's investigation. It looks like he really has found some cases of payola, but he's also lumped in some practices that don't appear to violate the federal payola statute or FCC rules. Indeed, it seems the only thing they violate is Spitzer's own interpretation, never tested in any court, of New York's state business laws that don't specifically deal with payola, radio or the recording industry. So, by what right does the Attorney General of New York create new rules that apply to the other 49 states as well? For his part, Feingold deserves credit for pushing radio companies to get out of bed with the indie promoters - - ending some apparently legit agreements that still stunk to high heaven. But the Senator is unfortunately mixing up media issues in ways that don't make sense. If anything, consolidation has cut down on payola, since big media companies have more resources than mom and pop operators to detect evidence of payola and deal with employees who are on the take.

WGCL-TV goes mobile in Atlanta
Meredith's WGCL-TV (Ch. 46, CBS) Atlanta has announced a new version of its website that will allow users of PDAs, cell phones and other mobile devices to receive news, weather, sports, movie listings and other information on the go - - without being slowed down by heavy graphics, pop-up ads and such. CBS46ToGo uses Wireless Application Protocol (WAP). "The best things in life are free," the station declared in its announcement. "As with the full version of the website, consumers are not required to pay any fees, register or enter personal information to access CBS46ToGo. Anyone with a wireless provider's Internet service is able to access the site."

Is UonTV the wave of the future?
If you have a show to distribute and a picture of Andrew Jackson on one of those 20-dollar bills, you can have access to an audience reaching North America, Hawaii and the Caribbean via UonTV LLC. The satellite service says it has somewhere between 3M-6M viewers in the US alone. A special satellite set-top receiver and 30" minidish are needed to get the service, but once that sub-200 dollar hurdle is cleared, program reception is said to be free. "There is no better way to efficiently transmit television content to massive audiences," says UonTV's Jamison Ching.

TVBR observation: Yeah, right. The company's press release notes the evolution of video distribution from the big three nets - - broadcasting, to cable - - which it calls narrowcasting, and now UonTV, which it calls microcasting. Microcasting is a term which would seem to cancel out the promise of "massive audiences." The company is targeting "businesses, churches, organizations, sports leagues and consumers." We can foresee other uses for a service like this - - for example, it could possibly help distant relatives watch the kids grow up. However, it seems no more a threat to existing broadcast and cable outlets than local access cable.

Conference Calls Q1 2005
TV holds its own at McGraw-Hill
TV revenues were essentially flat in Q2 at McGraw-Hill, slipping 0.4% to 27.9 million, so it looks like the four-station group, all ABC affiliates, is successfully capitalizing on ABC's higher ratings to offset the lack of political ad buys this year, even though it's getting less network comp under an new agreement signed a few weeks ago. In fact, McGraw-Hill CEO Terry McGraw told analysts that TV pacings are currently running 4% ahead of last year for Q3. All this may explain why the CEO told the New York Times a few weeks ago he has no intention of selling the TV group (6/28/05 TVBR #126). Broadcasting is, however, a tiny part of McGraw-Hill and Q2 revenue growth was driven by strong performance at its financial services and education units - - so strong that the company handily beat the Thomson/First Call consensus of 47 cents with earnings per share of 51 cents in Q2. "Given the strength of our first-half performance and the outlook for the second half, we are increasing our earnings guidance for the year. We now expect double-digit growth in earnings per share from continuing operations, including 8-9 cents dilution from acquisitions in 2004 and 2005 and changes in pension plan assumptions for 2005, but excluding the 2004 non-cash benefit of five cents per share from accrued tax liabilities," McGraw announced.


David Verklin:
Mastering a digital future
David Verklin, CEO of Carat Americas, runs the largest independent media services company in North America, sporting six billion in billings annually. David shepherds over 350 clients including Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, RadioShack, Adidas, Hyundai, New Line Cinema, Electronic Arts, Kia, Black & Decker, Marriott and Philips Electronics. RBR/TVBR asked him, In a nutshell, how are you and your Carat Digital unit seeing the future of advertising in a digital convergence world?
| More... |

Strong quarter for Omnicom
The world's largest ad agency holding company, Omnicom, reported that Q2 revenues rose more than 200 million to 2.6 billion, fueling a 10% increase in profits to nearly 226 million. US revenues increased 9%, while international was up 8%. The company credited the gains to clients spending more on marketing campaigns. Omnicom's holdings include such agencies as BBDO Worldwide, DDB Worldwide and TBWA\Worldwide.

Down on the Pharma
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America are trying to take matters into their own hands when it comes to regulating pharma ads. It has created its own set of guiding principles for direct-to-consumer advertising. "Direct-to-consumer advertising can be vitally important to patient education, increasing awareness of diseases and motivating patients to contact their physicians. By approving these Principles, the industry is demonstrating its commitment to direct-to-consumer advertising as a way to encourage doctor-patient discussions and provide patients and consumers with accurate, accessible and timely health information," said Billy Tauzin, president and CEO of PhRMA. Pharmaceutical advertising is a regular target on Capitol Hill, with Senate Majority Leader and medical doctor Bill Frist (R-TN) among the latest to weigh in on the topic.

Ad agencies oppose Burns bill
With a hearing scheduled today on Sen. Conrad Burns' (R-MT) bill to regulate TV ratings, some heavyweights in the advertising business have weighed in against the legislation. In a letter to key Senators, Wallace Snyder, President and CEO of the American Advertising Federation, wrote, "I ask you to reject any attempt to regulate television ratings and instead, allow the industry to continue to determine how best to measured its audiences and their impact." In a joint letter, a dozen top ad agency executives urged rejection of the Burns bill. "Adding an unnecessary layer of oversight to the television viewing measurement process does not make sense," they said. Signers included Jean Pool of Universal McCann, Charlie Rutman, Nina Kanter, Bill McOwen and Phyllis Maguire of Media Planning Group, Kate Sirkin of Starcom MediaVest, Rick Pike of Inter/Media Time Buying Corp, Jim Kite of MediaVest Worldwide, Pam Bentz of Milner Butcher Media Group, Jim Gaither of The Richards Group, Tom Kalahar of Camelot Communications and James Schiefer of Schiefer Media.

Crispin Porter + Bogusky quits Gateway account
The Miami-based ad agency said Tuesday it had resigned from the Gateway Computers account after nine months, citing differences over "strategic direction of the brand." According to a CP+B statement, "We feel that they will do better with another partner." The Gateway account is said to total about 150 million a year.

Media Business Report
TV Guide regroups to survive
With up-to-date TV program listings readily available on the Internet and via cable and satellite video services - - in many cases supplied by Gemstar-TV Guide - - who really needs the print TV Guide these days? Recognizing that it can no longer bank on its historic model based on pages and pages of channel grids, TV Guide has announced plans to revamp. Beginning with the October 17th issue, the small book full of listings will be replaced by a new, full-size magazine that the company hopes will appeal to a younger, more targeted audience. "The new format TV Guide magazine will be totally in sync with today's marketplace and more relevant for our readers and advertisers. We're deepening our relationship with readers by delivering what our research shows they want - - a big weekly magazine that is focused on TV shows and characters - and helps them find shows that appeal to their interests and moods. At the same time, we believe the magazine will attract a more diverse group of advertisers, and expect the new full-color, full-size format will be more effective in stimulating newsstand sales," said John Loughlin, President of the TV Guide Publishing Group. The new mag will cost a buck-99, compared to the current 2.49. Meanwhile, Gemstar-TV Guide has told Wall Street to expect its magazine operations to lose 90-110 million bucks for the 2005 and '06 fiscal years.

Radio & Television Business Report

Radio's Important September Face Off
UpFront 2005 - will radio face the mild reception as Network TV? Top media agency buyers and network radio sellers participating so far: Kelly Cadotte, Natalie Swed Stone, ,Irene Katsnelson, Chris Fontana,Rich Russo, Matt Feinberg, Matthew Warnecke, Kim Vasey, and Lisa Opensky Greenberg.

And we go One on One with
Charles Courtier, Executive Chairman of Mediaedge:cia

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Media Markets & MoneyTM
Univision runs down the KLOK in DOJ-inspired deal
Hispanic giant Univision promised the Department of Justice that it would whittle down its stake in competitor Entravision when it bought radio group Hispanic Broadcasting Corp. back in 2003. It has to get below 15%. Its 90M plan to acquire San Jose stations KLOL-AM & KBRG-FM from Entravision will get it to 20%. The currency expected to be utilized to close the deal will be Entravision stock currently held by Univision. Univision already owns KEMR-FM in San Jose and KSOL-FM in San Francisco. It also has two TVs in the market, Univision affiliate KDTV-TV Channel 14 and Telefutura affiliate KSFS-TV Channel 66. Univision also owns both of those television networks.

Washington Beat
NCTA, NAB duel continues: Word processors at 20 paces
In a new position paper, NCTA accused broadcasters of looking for a free ride on America's cable systems. "Dual and multicast must carriage will harm consumers by giving the federal government and commercial broadcasters - - not local viewing audiences - - the abiltiy to dictate what is carried on cable systems," said NCTA. "Government mandated carriage of all broadcast channels would crowd out other programming which consumers prefer, and would instead substitute broadcaster-sponsored programming for which there may be little or no consumer demand. Giving broadcasters preferential carriage over all other programming networks not only deprives consumers of diversity, it raises First Amendment problems relating to government mandated-speech." NAB was quick with a response. Spokesman Dennis Wharton said, "Regrettably, NCTA rehashes tired old rhetoric in asking Congress to insulate the cable cartel from competition from local broadcasters and other programmers. Moreover, NCTA manipulates and misstates the facts on multicasting. The reality is that less - - not more - - cable bandwidth is needed to carry DTV broadcast signals than analog signals. Only 3 MHz of bandwidth is needed to carry a digital broadcast signal, while it takes twice that much - - 6 MHz - - to carry an analog signal. Thus, the 'capacity burden' on cable is considerably less with the transition to digital. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld cable carriage requirements in the analog TV world; DTV multicasting provides a new opportunity for Congress to dismantle cable's gatekeeper status and usher in a new era of program choice for America's local television viewers."

Don't wait 'til the last minute
for your backlog waiver

Entravision's television division learned a costly lesson. It has yet to get 15 of its stations up to snuff regarding the ATSC A/65B Program System and Information Protocol (PSIP) standard. It says the problem is a manufacturer backlog. The FCC is not impressed, since the first they heard about it was after the deadline had passed. The Commission also feels it allowed sufficient time for licensees to handle PSIP, and that Entravision's explanation for its tardiness is still insufficient. FCC also says it would be within its normal parameters to hit each station with a fine equal of that for an EAS violation, or 8K a pop for a total of 120K. It said it'll go with 3K per station instead, or a 45K total hit. Two of the stations - - KINT-DT and KTFN-DT - - are in El Paso. The others are WUNI-DT Worchester MA, WUVN-DT Hartford CT, WVEA-DT Tampa-St. Petersburg (Venice FL), WVEN-DT Orlando-Daytona Beach (Daytona Beach FL), KCEC-DT Denver CO, KORO-DT Corpus Christi TX, KNVO-DT Harlingen-Weslaco-McAllen-Brownsville (McAllen TX), KLDO-DT Laredo TX, KLUZ-DT Albuquerque NM, KINC-DT Las Vegas NV, KVYE-DT Yuma AZ-El Centro CA (El Centro CA), KSMS-DT Monterey-Salinas (Monterey CA) and KPMR-DT Santa Barbara CA.

Michaels staying with MNF
He'll no longer be paired with John Madden, who's heading to NBC (6/16/05 TVBR #118), but Al Michaels is staying put on "Monday Night Football," even as it moves from ABC to ESPN in 2006. "I feel like I'm a creature of Monday night. I'm home and I'm staying home," he told reporters. Michaels will be joined in the broadcast booth by former NFL star Joe Theismann.

ABC announces fall premiere dates
Hoping to continue its ratings resurgence, the ABC Television Network has announced its fall premiere dates, including those for the highly anticipated return of all-new episodes of the hit shows "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost," as well as the debuts of some of the most talked about potential hits of the coming season, including "Commander In Chief" and "Invasion." | Here's what ABC has on tap |

TV One's footprint is expanding
Urban radio specialist Radio One is having some success establishing a foothold with its video outlet, basic cable TV One (co-owned with Comcast). It's expanding into new territory on cable systems owned by Cox, Comcast, Mid-Continent and Time Warner, and getting into a geographically diverse set of markets. Cox launches have included Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Wichita, Topeka and Pensacola, with Greenville, Rocky Mount and Tarboro NC on tap for next month. Comcast adds have occurred in New Haven, Hartford, Gary and Hammond IN, and Las Cruces NM. Northern Midwest systems owned by Mid-Continent are now hosting TV One in Mitchell and Aberdeen SD and Carrington and New Rockford ND, with Bismarck and Grand Forks ND and Sioux Falls and Watertown SD on tap. TW systems adds have taken place in Houston, Charlotte, Cincinnati and Dayton. In all, TV One is adding 5M new subs to its new 21M total.

Ratings & Research
Reruns rule the roost
The top five spots in the latest week's Nielsen ratings went to series reruns, led by CBS' "CSI," with Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance" tying for sixth as the most-watched original show. (It was #2, though, 18-49 and Fox won the demo for the week.) For the week, CBS was tops overall with a rating of 5.0 and a 9 share, followed by NBC 4.1/7, ABC and Fox tied at 3.7/7, UPN 1.8/3, WB 1.2/2 and i (ex-Pax) 0.5/1. | View the Numbers |

GM Talkback
What does EDI invoicing mean to you? Are you satisfied with your rep firm's progress to help with national sales using EDI?

Joe Barlek, Senior Vice President Controller, Susquehanna Radio:
"All of our stations are participating in Interep's RadioExchange program. The percentage of national billing done through electronic invoicing varies by market. In our largest markets, we are billing between 55% and 65% of our national business through RadioExchange. The RadioExchange process is not difficult, but there is manual effort involved, which adds time to our billing process. Consequently, we continually encounter manual entry errors each month, which creates angst within our billing departments. Even though RadioExchange adds a step to our billing process, we have made the commitment to the process because it permits our rep firm to confirm the order prior to sending the file to our client's agency. While we have not yet seen a significant reduction in the number of days' receivables outstanding across the group due to EDI, we do believe that the investment we make now will reap returns once a majority of the radio industry utilizes electronic invoicing. About 27% of our total billing (local and national) is done electronically. For our larger markets the percentage of total billing is closer to 40%-45%. Our biggest disappointment thus far with electronic invoicing is that agencies still require us to send paper copies of the invoices. This is contrary to our hopes of going completely paperless. I am not sure why agencies still require the paper, but if in the long run it gets the industry moving more fully into EDI and eventually paperless, it's worth the short-term expense.

Stock Talk
Once again, oil hike sends the Dow lower
Strong earnings news from companies such as Verizon, McGraw-Hill and Texas Instruments wasn't enough to counter a rise in oil prices. The Dow Industrials slipped 17 points, or 0.2%, to 10,580, although some other indices closed higher.

TV stocks were mostly higher. McGraw-Hill shot up 4.7% on its strong Q2 results and raised guidance for the rest of this year. Entravision rose 2.3% after announcing a deal to sell two radio stations to Univision, which gained 1.6%.


Here's how stocks fared on Tuesday

Company Symbol Close Change Company Symbol Close Change





Media General












Clear Channel




News Corp.
















NY Times
















Saga Commun.












Gen. Electric




















Time Warner




Gray, C1. A




















Viacom, Cl. A




Journal Comm.




Viacom, Cl. B




Liberty Corp




Wash. Post






















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Upped & Tapped

Meyl joins Sinclair
Veteran TV manager William Meyl, most recently GM of Citadel's KCAU-TV (Ch. 9, ABC) Sioux City, IA, has been named GM of Sinclair's WGGB-TV (Ch. 40, ABC) Springfield, MA.

New director for Trib
Miles White has been elected to the board of directors at Tribune Company, with his term expiring at the company's 2007 annual shareholders' meeting. White is the Chairman and CEO of Abbott Laboratories.

Changes at
Cox Enterprises

Dennis Berry announced plans to retire as President and COO of Cox Enterprises, the parent company of Cox Radio, Cox Broadcasting, Cox Communications and the Cox newspapers, among other things. Jimmy Hayes, formerly CFO of Cox Communications, has been named Executive VP of Cox Enterprises and, effective with the New Year, he'll move up to President and COO, with Berry becoming Vice Chair. That post is currently held by David Easterly, who will retire, but remain a board member. Meanwhile, at Cox Communications, the cable company, Jim Robbins will retire as President and CEO, with Patrick Esser taking over as President on January 1st.

More News Headlines

Gunsmoke's record about to fall
During its 20-year run on network television, "Gunsmoke" aired 635 original episodes - - a record that has stood for decades. No more. World Wresting Entertainment says its "Monday Night RAW" will claim the title on August 1st when its 636th episode airs on Spike TV. It looks like that record-breaking number, which took WWE only 13 years, will continue to grow as the show moves back to the USA Network in October. Although "Gunsmoke" was a scripted series, WWE is claiming that "RAW" will surpass it for "the most original episodes of any weekly fictional entertainment program ever on television."

Pennsylvania engineers set meeting
The 21st Annual Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters Engineering Conference will be held Thursday, November 3rd at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania. This annual event, dedicated to the advancement of Radio and Television Engineering in Pennsylvania, provides the attendees with a full day of continuing educational seminars in broadcast engineering and contacts with high quality broadcast equipment and supply exhibitors. For more information and registration go to:

Viacom directors get extra pay for extra work
That extra work is dealing with the pending split of Viacom into two separate public companies - - (New) Viacom and CBS. The board of directors has voted to pay the Lead Independent Director 50,000 in special compensation when the split is consummated. Other members of the Special Separation Committee will get 30,000. That's all in addition to their regular pay of 60,000 per year.

RBR - Radio News

Wachovia cuts radio expectations again
The RAB won't report June radio revenues for a few more days, but Wachovia Securities analyst Marci Ryvicker is expecting disappointing growth of only 1%. She's cut her Q3 growth estimate to 2% (from 3%) and dropped her projections for most of the radio companies she follows. "As Q2 appears to be weaker than originally expected, we believe that most groups will meet the low end rather than the high end of Q2 guidance and provide Q3 forecasts of low to mid single digits. We reduced Q2 and Q3 top line estimates by an average of 50bps and 100bps, respectively, based on each company's prior year comparisons, historical performance versus the industry, large market pacings, and ratings trends," Ryvicker told clients. While she applauds radio groups for cutting clutter to try to boost ratings and rates, "We do not believe that ad rates are sufficiently high enough to offset the year-over-year inventory reduction that has occurred to date," the analyst noted.

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

African-American leaders
oppose Burns bill
Nielsen is making its own lobbying push. Rev. Jesse Jackson, who had previously endorsed Local People Meters (LPM), has released a letter opposing the Burns bill, co-signed by a number of African-American TV producers and other civil rights leaders. The letter noted that with LPMs, "programs produced by or featuring people of color that appear on smaller and newer networks - - especially on cable TV - - are showing up in the local ratings for the first time." It went on to accuse "some corporate interests in the media business" of pushing the Burns bill to "keep more advanced technology out of the market.
TVBR observation: As we noted yesterday, the Burns bill is anything but "FAIR" and won't do anything to make TV ratings more accurate. Yes, there are concerns about the sample composition and fault rates for LPM - - and broadcasters should hold Nielsen's feet to the fire until those issues are resolved. The Burns bill won't fix any of those things, but it will result in needless costs for broadcasters and make it more difficult than ever to improve TV ratings going forward. Contrary to what we're hearing from a few of you, TVBR is not opposing the Burns bill to help Nielsen or attack the NAB - - we're opposing the Burns bill because it is bad for broadcasters. In fact, we took our position in strong opposition to the legislation before either the NAB or Nielsen announced their positions. We still hold out hope that the NAB will rethink its stance and help to stop this misguided effort to put another layer of federal regulation on the shoulders of America's broadcasters.
07/26/05 TVBR #145

We asked: Do you think mandatory MRC accreditation will make TV ratings any more accurate?
It appears that most of our readers agree with the RBR/TVBR assessment that the legislation by Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) to regulate the TV ratings business is a waste of effort and won't accomplish anything. The results...
07/26/05 TVBR #145

Sony BMG in 10M payola settlement
Citing "outright bribes to radio programmers" and using independent promoters as "conduits for illegal payments to radio stations," New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer announced that Sony BMG will pay 10M bucks to be distributed to non-profit organizations in New York, pay 100K to cover the costs of the investigation and change its practices to settle the payola allegations. The case is expected to be the model for other record labels, and Spitzer made it clear he's also going after radio stations urging the FCC to revoke some licenses.
RBR observation: Nobody is more opposed to payola than we are. RBR early on called for the radio industry to quit dealing with the indie promoters and we think the business is better off now that they are all but gone. But Spitzer seems to have gone overboard in his effort to erect a high wall between radio stations and the record labels. 07/26/05 RBR #145

Sony BMG settlement spells out radio group involvement
It's not yet clear whether New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer will seek cash settlements from broadcasters in his payola probe, or just the record labels. But the settlement with Sony BMG spells out several incidents of radio station employees being involved in the alleged misconduct. One case involved Dave Universal, who was fired in January as Program Director of Entercom's WKSE-FM Buffalo. The paper trail was not on paper, but rather in an email that one promotion executive at Sony BMG's Epic Records sent to a colleague.
07/26/05 RBR #145

TVBR observation, Part 1
Sen. Burns bill and the four Amigos!
Missing the Point
TVBR is on the record stating: "None of which have a clue what they are about to undertake and the potential problems all broadcasters and total media will face if this gains more speed." Here is the kicker to the TV owners that have cross ownership with radio or wish to be in the radio business: Never count out that radio too could get sucked into this the same issue in a couple of years o! r if not sooner. That sooner will depend on what wild hair a Senator(s) is festering at the time. The fact is Bill S.1372 won't do a thing to change LPMs or deal with the real problem - The difficulties all survey firms face in getting cooperation in the young demos, particularly young males. Rather, the bill will lead to frivolous lawsuits and hurt all broadcasters - even the ones who are foolishly supporting this bad legislation. What's Congress going to do about the growing difficulty of the younger generation and possibly minorities just not wanting to participate? 07/25/05 TVBR #144

TVBR observation, Part 2
Sen. Burns bill and the four Amigos!
Do we need a federal law
What's Congress going to do about that? Do we need a federal law to mandate participation in media ratings surveys? Should we revoke the driver's licenses of young males who forget to punch their button on a set-top box? How about a weekend of home detention? Such ideas are ridiculous, but no more ridiculous than thinking that turning the MRC into a federal ratings cop will boost ratings for the News Corporation and Tribune TV stations. That, after all, is what this is about. Those two companies, in particular, have seen ratings go down for shows targeting younger African-American viewers on their stations in LPM markets. 07/25/05 TVBR #144

Publisher Perspective
Accountability is for all during 2005
You can not change the ratings game if you do not know the history and in this case the history was just weeks ago. TV execs you may say to yourself, 'Hey not my problem' but the old saying is 'What runs down hill?' Yep somewhere along the this long gray line inside the beltway when Senators begin to hold hearings everything from the past of the 1996 Telecom Act to the kitchen sink is going to be brought up. Why? Each of these ill educated and ill advised Senators want their opening statements on the congressional record. Now get involved and - Read, Learn just the recent history events. 07/25/05 TVBR #144

NAB adds its fire to Burns MRC bill
President/CEO Eddie Fritts fired off a letter to Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) expressing the organization's support for legislation which would strengthen Media Rating Council (MRC) oversight over TV ratings companies. Fritts noted it was an unusual stance given the NAB's general preference for "voluntary inter-industry cooperation."
TVBR observation: To say the least, we are very disappointed by this NAB move. This legislation to inject federal regulation into the TV ratings business is bad for every broadcaster and every NAB member. Those broadcasters, led by News Corporation's Rupert Murdoch (not even an NAB member, by the way), who are now foolishly backing the Burns bill will someday regret their actions. If this bill becomes law it will add needless delay and cost to future attempts to upgrade and improve TV ratings - - and likely be expanded someday to include radio in the mess. It the short-run it will hurt broadcast stations and cable networks targeting ethnic audiences, in particular, because Nielsen would have to shut down such offerings as the Nielsen Hispanic-American Television Index , which doesn't even qualify for MRC accreditation. ! Disputes about LPM can and should be dealt with inside the industry. The NAB has wandered off course and needs to get back to defending the free marketplace. Don't believe us read the letter Fritts sent 07/22/05 TVBR #143

Swords remain sheathed,
but pens unholstered
Reaction to news of the NAB/Fritts letter to Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) was swift from the principals involved in the dispute. Both sides seemed surprised by the development, with Nielsen literally saying as much. The reactions were, of course, completely opposite. Comcast has also weighed in, on Nielsen's side. Here they are and in a word - Ouch 07/22/05 TVBR #143

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