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Welcome to TVBR's Daily Epaper
Volume 24, Issue 147, Jim Carnegie, Editor & Publisher
Monday Morning July 30th, 2007

TV News ®

NAB/MSTV try to keep
spectrum clean

Major television trade associations are worried about the introduction of unlicensed spectrum devices into the band used by broadcast television stations, particularly in the face of the transition to digital-only broadcast. NAB's David Rehr and MSTV's David Donovan are trying to head off any rash moves in this arena. They fired off a joint letter to NTIA's John Kneuer and Ambassador Richard Russell, who represents the USA at the World Administrative Radio Conference. The concern is the potential for harmful interference with television signals. "An analysis of recent data released by the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology revealed that a low powered unlicensed device operating on a so-called vacant adjacent channel that is next to an operating TV channel would result in interference in 80%-87% of a television station's service area," they wrote. "This interference would occur if an unlicensed device operates within 10 to 100 meters of a digital television set." They added that same channel devices could disrupt signals for miles. Nor would the interfering entities be traceable, since they would be unlicensed. They concluded that "it would be a monumental mistake to allow portable unlicensed devices into broadcast spectrum before the transition was allowed to flourish and succeed."

TVBR observation: With all the worries expressed by politicians about pulling off the DTV transition at all, it is unfathomable that anybody would consider putting it at risk for an ill-defined experiment in first-come, first-served spectrum grabbing. White space projects need to be moved back until we make sure the spectrum incumbents are able to operate safely.

Belo beats expectations
Belo CEO Robert Decherd hailed the company's TV group for "continued outstanding performance," with Q2 revenues up 2.5% to 198.2 million, while newspapers were down 8.5% to 192.3 million. Earnings per share of 35 cents beat the Thomson/First Call consensus by a healthy four cents. The outlook for Q3 is similar, with TV revenues expected to be up slightly, with newspapers down. Belo's TV group was not without political revenues in Q2, booking 2.2 million this year against 5.1 million a year ago. Total spot revenue was up 1.1%, with local up 3.9% and national around 1%. In his conference call with analysts, Decherd noted particularly strong revenue growth for the websites associated with the Belo TV stations. Q2 revenues there were up 48% to seven million. TV EBITDA for Q2 was down 1.5% to 82.3 million. The company attributed that to the broadcast division absorbing its share of Belo's technology outsourcing. Newspaper EBITDA declined 6% to 42.5 million. Decherd's conference call with analysts was conducted several hours before two Belo staffers were killed in a TV news helicopter crash in Phoenix.

Republicans balking at CNN/YouTube debate
CNN and YouTube recently hosted a ground-breaking South Carolina debate featuring all eight Democratic presidential candidates taking questions directly from potential voters. A similar format is scheduled for the Republicans in Florida 9/17/07, but much like the Democrats have been with Fox News Channel, the Republicans seem allergic to the CNN/YouTube format. So far, only two Democrats have agreed to a FNC September debate, Joe Biden (D-DE) and Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), and CNN/YouTube only has two Republicans, John McCain (R-AZ) and Ron Paul (R-TX). The Washington Post reported that Rudy Giulinia (R-NY) was unlikely to attend and that Mitt Romney (R-MA) had serious reservations about the format. A Republican National Committee member is worried about a general snub of the event. He said it's one thing to snub reporters, who many Republicans think have a liberal bias anyway, but he didn't think it was a very good idea to snub actual citizens.

Four killed in
news copter collision

A mid-air collision between two TV news helicopters in Phoenix left four men dead Friday. Crews from several stations were covering a police chase when the helicopters of Belo's KTVK-TV (Ch. 3, Ind.) and Scripps' KNXV-TV (Ch. 15, ABC) collided in the air and both fell in flames into a city park. The crash killed KTVK pilot-reporter Scott Bowerbank and photographer Jim Cox and KNXV pilot-reporter Craig Smith and photographer Rick Krolack. No one on the ground was injured. It is believed to be the first time that two TV news aircraft have collided in the US while covering a story. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the cause of the crash.

"It appears as though the Channel 3 helicopter was stationary and the Channel 15 helicopter either came up from under the Channel 3 helicopter or was at the same level. We can't tell because it's eyewitness testimony. One appeared to be relatively stationary, and one was moving and that's how the collision took place," said NTSB spokesman Steve Chealander in a story posted by KTVK. NTSB has been seeking video and photos from the media and general public, along with eyewitness accounts, to determine how and why the helicopters collided. The man who was the subject of the police chase was arrested after the crash and charged with theft, assault and resisting arrest. He is being held on one million bucks bond and may face additional charges related to the helicopter crash. Both stations have invited viewers to post condolences on their websites. A joint memorial service for Bowerback and Cox is planned for tomorrow, one for Smith on Thursday and one for Krolak on Saturday. "NAB and the entire broadcast family mourn the loss of the journalists killed in the tragic Phoenix helicopter collision. Broadcasters take seriously our role as first informers in providing viewers and listeners with breaking news and emergency information. This incident serves as a sobering reminder that the noble profession of journalism can often carry special risks," said NAB President David Rehr in a statement.

Wall Street Media Business Report TM
Global Traffic Network sells stock
Having sold its IPO in 2006 at five bucks per share, Global Traffic Network has now priced an offering of 4.5 million additional shares at 6.25 each. Although corporate HQ is in New York, Global provides radio and television traffic reports on a barter basis only outside the US. It currently operates in Australia and Canada and is preparing to launch in Europe. Westwood One is a major shareholder and handles ad sales for Global in the US. Former WW1 CEO Shane Coppola is a member of the Global board of directors.

Ion preferreds prefer to take the deal
After battling in court for a better deal, and being rebuffed by the bench in their efforts to block an exchange of preferred stock for new securities, it appears that most preferred shareholders at Ion Media Networks decided to take the sure thing. TVBR hears that more than 90% of the holders of both issues of preferred stock tendered for the exchange before it closed on Friday. A final tally is expected today from the company.

Ad Business Report TM

Carat reorganization
Carat USA and Carat Fusion, the digital marketing operation, have merged and will now carry the name Carat. The move is intended to meld traditional media and digital marketing. Sarah Fay, from Carat USA, is CEO and Scott Sorokin, from Carat Fusion, President. Carat USA President Ray Warren is leaving "to pursue his passion for content marketing," with no word yet on exactly where that will be. "Our clients are thirsting for a new model of communications that melds both traditional media and full service digital marketing capabilities to effectively achieve business goals. We are creating the first fully integrated, consumer-centric, on/offline marketing communications agency of this size, scope and scale. Never before has there been one company with this range of digital and offline capabilities, this consumer insight prowess and this degree of scale and strategic approach to managing a client's media and marketing business. We are now in a position to provide our clients with a holistic solution, supported by data and led by consumer insight, which connects every touch point and channel for their brands seamlessly," said Carat America CEO David Verklin.

New marketing boss for Coke
The Coca-Cola Company has named Joseph Tripodi to the position of Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer, reporting to President and COO Muhtar Kent. Tripodi was most recently Sr. VP and Chief Marketing Officer for Allstate Insurance Company, but he is no stranger to the beverage industry. He served as Chief Marketing Officer for Seagram Spirits & Wine Group from 1999 to 2002. His diverse resume also includes stints with The Bank of New York, Mobil Oil and MasterCard International. By the way, he was the chief architect for the "Priceless" campaign at MasterCard. "I've always greatly admired The Coca-Cola Company and its brands and, like many others, have watched from the sidelines as they embarked on a transformational program to revitalize their business. It's a great honor for me to partner with such a strong and creative management team and to help contribute to future growth through successful alignment of the Marketing and Commercial Leadership functions," said Tripodi.

Media Business Report TM
Echo/amplification chamber in full working order
The Project for Excellence in Journalism Talk Show index for the week of 7/15-20/07 revealed the typical weekly pattern. Talkers took the top news stories and concentrated on them to a greater extent than news operations could. They took #1 Iraq policy from 14% up to 19%, #2 2008 campaign from 9% to 13%, and #3 domestic terror from 6% to 10%. At this point, talker interest diverged from the news. As a group they made the immigration #4 topic, but as PEJ notes, Lou Dobbs is liable to fuel this issue on his own in any given week. And talkers were still hot on trail of an issue close to their hearts, the Fairness Doctrine, devoting 5% of their time to it.

Washington Media Business Report TM
Houses pulls some teeth out of BCRA
Mike Pence (R-IN) successfully managed to get a provision through the House of Representatives that would prevent the Department of Justice from pursuing criminal enforcement of campaign advertising regulations. They would still be vulnerable to civil enforcement by the FEC. The bill is an amendment to a spending measure. According to the Associated Press, the measure passed by a 215-205 vote, indicating a certain amount of Democratic support. However, AP notes that unnamed members of the Senate have vowed that it would not survive there. The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act is closely associated with John McCain (R-AZ) and Russ Feingold (D-WI). The move comes after the Supreme Court weakened part of BCRA limiting corporate and union sponsorship of issue ads in the weeks before elections. Pence said it avoids pursuing criminal penalties against citizens for exercising their right of free speech. Elections watchdog Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21 said the move, which he said denies DoJ the funding it needs to enforce rules on the books, was irresponsible.

Cumulus Tallahassee cluster
takes 20K FCC hit

An informal objection to the license renewals of five Cumulus Media radio stations in the Tallahassee market has been denied by the FCC, but underlying problems with the clusters public files at two of them have caused the cluster to deal with a lighter wallet. The complainant was Peter B. Fulton, and he actually went after five of the stations in the cluster, but three had already received license renewals, leaving WHBX-FM and WWLD-FM vulnerable. In both cases, the stations' public file was found to be lacking program/issues lists. Fulton had requested to see them and was unable to (they were said to be on a cluster employee's desk being updated at the time), and that was the basis of his informal objection to the renewals. In its application for the renewals, Cumulus had indicated that its public files were up to regulatory snuff, but the stations were still missing the program/issues information when FCC inspectors showed up. Cumulus was deemed to have served the public interest, so the licenses were renewed, and Cumulus was hit with a total of 20K in fines.

Cable Business Report TM
U-Verse is a cable service...maybe
A federal judge in Connecticut has overturned the decision of the state's Department of Public Utility Control and ruled that AT&T's U-Verse must meet the same franchise criteria as cable systems to provide video service in the state. But that ruling may have no impact. The Hartford Courant reports that the decision could be nullified by a new state law which establishes a new system to regulate cable systems in Connecticut and their new competitors, such as U-Verse. That law provides for state-side franchising, allowing new operators to bypass local franchising. AT&T already offers its U-Verse service in more than 20 Connecticut communities, but has resisted signing any local franchise agreements. The federal lawsuit against AT&T and the state Department of Public Utility Control had been brought by the Connecticut Office of Consumer Counsel and the New England Cable and Telecommunications Association, a trade group for cable MSOs.

RBR Radio News

Imus settlement at hand

Fired radio host Don Imus is close to settling his impending 120 million bucks lawsuit against former employer CBS, according to Friday's New York Post. The newspaper says negotiations on the settlement are all but finalized, but CBS is dragging its feet until it can sign a contract with former NFL star Boomer Esiason to take over the I-Man's old slot on WFAN-AM New York. That's reportedly because CBS wants to keep open the possibility of an Imus return until it has Boomer safely under contract. No word on the amount of the settlement being discussed, but the Post quotes a source as saying they would much rather be on the Imus side of the negotiations. Imus had about 40 million remaining on his contract when CBS fired him for using a racist comment when referring to the Rutgers women's basketball team. But the I-Man's lawyer has made it clear in public statements that the contract - which still hasn't been seen since the lawsuit hasn't actually been filed - didn't allow for his client's dismissal under such circumstances. In addition to the 40 million paycheck, Imus claims that losing the WFAN show, which was also syndicated nationwide, has reduced sales of products to fund his charities, leading to the total claim of 120 million. The Imus radio show had also been simulcast on MSNBC, which moved first to fire him before CBS. MSNBC has not yet named a permanent replacement for the time slot.

Republicans, Salem team up in TX campaign event
The Presidential Straw Poll will be held 8/31/07 at the Fort Worth Convention Center. It's a collaboration of the Republican Party of Texas, and Townhall parent Salem Communications. Salem, which specializes in religious and conservative programming, will "provide a local and national platform for the presidential straw poll though Dallas/Ft. Worth's News Talk 660 K-SKY, Salem Radio Network." Salem's Hugh Hewitt will hold his radio show on site and will run candidate speeches, and will provide a national portal for conservative citizens to participate in the event. K-SKY/KWRD-FM VP/GM Pete Thomson said, "This straw poll will help define a presidential front-runner and K-SKY's is excited to be part of this historic event."

Monday Morning Makers & Shakers

Transactions: 6/11/07-6/15/07
There were 15 trades of varying sizes, albeit all on the relatively small side, but they were enough to at least get total trading back into double-digit millions after an off week. Seven different transactions topped 1M, indicating a reasonably healthy appetite for stations in the smaller markets of America.



Total Deals







| Complete Charts |
Radio Transactions of the Week
Bonneville spinner goes to Douglas
| More...
TV Transactions of the Week
The TV nap continues

18,780,503 WGXA-TV Macon GA (Fox, Ch. 24, DT 16) from Piedmont Television of Macon License LLC, a subsidiary of Piedmont Communications LLC (Paul Brissette) to Fox24 of Macon LLC, a subsidiary of Frontier Television Investors LLC (Jason R. Wolff). 939,025 escrow, remainder in cash and assumed liabilities. [File date 7/6/07.]

Stock Talk
Sell-off runs to second day
The government's GDP report on Friday was good, but that wasn't enough to stop the stock sell-off that began on Thursday, prompted by fears about borrowing costs. The Dow Industrials fell 208 points, or 1.5%, to spend the weekend at 13,265.

TV stocks fell again. Hearst-Argyle rebounded 5.1% from the previous day's big drop. Gray Television had the worst day, with its common down 7.2% and Class A off 6.7%.


Here's how stocks fared on Friday

Company Symbol Close Change Company Symbol Close Change





Lincoln Natl.






















Media General




Clear Channel












News Corp.
















Ion Media




Equity Media EMDA 3.97 -0.03

Saga Commun.




















Gen. Electric








Google GOOG











Time Warner




Gray, C1. A












Wash. Post




Journal Comm.









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Below the Fold

Cable Business Report
U-Verse is a cable service
Maybe as a federal judge in Connecticut has overturned the decision...

Ad Business Report
Carat reorganization
Carat USA & Carat Fusion, the digital marketing operation, have merged...

Media Business Report
Echo/amplification chamber
In full working order revealed the typical weekly pattern...

Washington Media Business Report
Cumulus Tallahassee cluster
Takes 20K FCC hit stations' public file was found to be lacking...

Stations for Sale

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June Barnes
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TV Media Moves

Milbury to

Former NHL player, coach and GM Mike Milbury has never been one to keep his opinions to himself. Now he's going to get paid to give them as the newest studio analyst for NBC's "NHL Game of the Week."

RHI signs Fitzpatrick
Paul Fitzpatrick had already been consulting RHI Entertainment on its foray into new media. Now he has joined the company fulltime in the newly created position of Executive Vice President, overseeing all new media initiatives, serving as RHI's principal liaison with the multichannel industry and working on a variety of corporate ventures. Fitzpatrick had previously been Exec. VP and COO of Crown Media Holdings.

New director for Fisher
Michael Wortsman, the recently retired president of Univision Television Group, has been named a director of Fisher Communications. "The Spanish-language audience is the fastest growing media market in the United States today, and within the last year Fisher has made key strategic acquisitions to capitalize on this opportunity," noted Fisher CEO Colleen Brown in welcoming Wortsman to the board of directors.

Belo board addition
Public Radio International Chairman Douglas Carlston has been elected to the board of directors at Belo Corp. Carlston is also CEO of Tawala Systems, an Internet technology company that he co-founded in 2005.

More News Headlines

Bancroft tally due today
We should find out today how the various factions of the Bancroft family feel about the idea of selling Dow Jones & Company, including the Wall Street Journal, to News Corporation and Rupert Murdoch. The WSJ reported considerable lobbying within the far-flung family which controls 64% of the voting power of Dow Jones. One Bancroft cousin who backs the sale sent around a long letter calling for a "reality check" on what would happen to the company if it is not sold. It is believed that support from about half of the Bancroft shares are needed for the News Corporation bid of five billion bucks to win acceptance in a vote by all Dow Jones shareholders.

Kerry deputizes America as copywriters
John Kerry has an organization called Keeping America's Promises, and its joining with political action group MoveOn to come up with copy for a radio ad which will be used to target Republicans. The rules: write a 0:30 second script (described as about 65 words). Kerry and KAP will pick the top 20, a vote will determine the #1 script, and it will be produced and aired in Republican states. MoveOn will accept donations to purchase airtime, and donors will be able to suggest a state in which the ad should air. Deadline for submissions is 8/11/07.

Women rule
That's what American Women in Radio and Television says, at any rate. And where they rule is in sales and marketing. The group recently announced its fourth annual list of the top 25 "rulers" as voted by AWRT members. Mary Bennett, Radio Advertising Bureau; Cathy Bradbury, Univision KUVN; Erinn Carter, NBC5 Chicago; Norma Cox American, Public Media; Paula Doyle, Oxygen; Kimberly Fletcher, KDAY-FM; Sarah Frazie, CBS Radio; Mary Beth Garber, Southern California Broadcasters Association; Sherree Haevischer-Pence, WFAA TV; Laura Hagan, Univision Radio National Sales; Wendy Jones-Hayes, Katz Radio Group; Nancy Kahn, ABC Radio Sales, Interep; Suzanne Kolb, E! Networks; Ann Leary, Clear Channel Katz Advantage; Val Maki-Candido, Emmis Communications; Karen Miller, CBS Radio Sales, Interep; Peggy O'Neill, Continental Television Sales; Juleann Pasqualini, Continental Television Sales; Bonnie Press, Clear Channel Katz Advantage; Mary Pultorak, Clear Channel Radio Sales; Ellen Schned, CSTV: College Sports Television; Christi Swanner, Asher Media; Christine Travaglini, Christal Radio; Terri Walker, KTUL TV; & Molly Wythes, Clear Channel Katz Advantage

SmartMedia Magazine

Coming in September

Media Markets and Money:
What's attractive to equity capital these days?

Ad Biz:
Gennele Niblack, Katz Political President

Using your website to get, keep and grow your audiences

Political Advertising:
Greg Pinello, GMMB: Political dollars for radio: The need for there to be more ideological diversity in the news-talk format; Tom Edmonds, a Republican strategist with Edmonds and Associates

Legal Ease:
Gregg Skall:
"The FCC rules on political ads-Network exception issue".

New Media:
Gary Arlen: YouTube, Joost and the emerging Fox-NBC website are just the start of big bandwidth video via the Internet.

For advertising
information, contact:

June Barnes
[email protected] 803-731-5951;
Jim Carnegie
[email protected] 813-909-2916 or
Carl Marcucci
[email protected] 703-492-8191.

TVBR Radar 2007
Television News you won't read any where else. TVBR--First, Accurate, and Independently Owned.

Watchdogs, some senators
have DTV doubts
By and large, representatives from the NTIA and FCC think that the groundwork for the DTV transition is going forward as it should. But a number of member of the Senate Commerce Committee aren't so sure, and members of the watchdog community also have some questions.

TVBR observation: Note more details in TVBR but here is our take in a nutshell. We're with Sununu. He noted that broadcasters and other interested parties have their economic health at stake and he is sure that motivation will get them working toward a smooth transition. He also noted the possibility that the 1.5B or so allocated for converter coupons may wind up being more than is needed to meet demand. We don't know that we'd go that far, but it certainly is a possibility. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) asked about targeting analog-only TV users. Seidel talked about various outreach efforts, but the simple answer is that people who watch TV will find out what they need to know by watching TV. They will be self-targeting.
07/27/07 TVBR #146

David Rehr's pen pals
You'd never know it's the summer doldrums in Washington, particularly if you're trying to keep up with NAB President/CEO David Rehr. He's been blanketing the city with mail lately, firing off a letter on XM/Sirius to the FCC, another letter on the DTV transition to the Senate Commerce Committee, and yet another letter on streaming audio royalties to no less a dignitary than President George W. Bush. Rehr told Kevin Martin and the other Commissioners that late XM/Sirius promises are "...designed to dress up the proposed merger-to-monopoly as a benefit to the public. But you can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear."

RBR observation: Our recommendation to David is keep a high level of caffeine and keep up the pressure. More details on Rehr's pen pals in RBR.
07/27/07 RBR #146


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