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Welcome to TVBR's Daily Epaper
Volume 22, Issue 195, Jim Carnegie, Editor & Publisher
Wednesday Morning October 5th, 2005

TV News®

New boss at Fisher; Tucker exits
Nine months after the ouster of William Krippaehne (1/7/05 TVBR #5), the directors of Fisher Communications have settled on a new President and CEO for the company. She is Colleen B. Brown, who once headed the TV group at Lee Enterprises and most recently was Sr. VP at Belo, overseeing its TV and cable operations in Texas. Before the job at Lee, she managed Gannett's TV station in Phoenix. "We conducted an exhaustive search, and our Board of Directors is confident that we have selected the right person to lead Fisher Communications in this complex and rapidly changing environment," stated Phelps K. Fisher, the Chairman of Fisher Communication's Board of Directors. The company owns nine TV stations (plus 50% of another) and 27 radio stations in the Northwest. With Brown's hiring, acting President and CEO Ben Tucker is leaving Fisher to "pursue other interests." He had been with the company since 1999 and President of Fisher Broadcasting since 2001 before getting the acting CEO job in January. Tucker will exit stage right this Thursday, 10/6/05, and head for sunny Phoenix, AZ and already has offices set up and will be speaking with financial types as he eyeballs not just TV but is very interested in radio. One key opening will be at the NAB's TV Board Chairman Seat as Tucker will have to vacate within 60-days. Sources say Tucker will be discussing this issue today with First Vice Chair: Jim Conschafter of Media General and Second Vice Chair: Andrew S. Fisher from Cox. Conschafter would be next in the move up line to replace Tucker as Chairman. But the Board could take a vote on the Chairman seat as well. We will keep you informed.

Moody's smiles on Emmis
Now that Emmis Communications has announced deals to sell four more TV stations for 259 million bucks (9/30/05 TVBR #192) and an FM station in St. Louis for 20 million (9/27/05 TVBR #189), Moody's Investors Service has changed the company's debt rating outlook to "positive." Moody's says it expects to commence an upgrade review once the timing for closing the deals becomes clear. Moody's latest move is based on its expectation that Emmis will use the 960 million or so in net proceeds to reduce its debt leverage that had gone as high as 7.8 times EBITDA after its 395 million bucks share buyback. "Pro forma for the latest transaction, Emmis will have only three remaining television stations for sale, including its attractive, Orlando, FL asset. The positive outlook incorporates our belief that leverage levels will also benefit from the anticipated divestiture of these remaining stations. It is likely that upon consideration of all pending asset sales and the ultimate sale of the remaining television properties, total leverage will be reduced to below five times," Moody's said.

Consumer Reports gives
thumbs up to HDTV

The folks at Consumer Reports note that experts "...are all but unanimous in their praise of high-definition television." But what about consumers? The answer - - they too are all but unanimous. A resounding 87% of those who have already bought into the technology give it thumbs up. The biggest problem - - not enough stuff to watch. 50% of the early adopters aren't getting enough high-def programming yet. Consumer Reports' own experts also are on board, and seemed to be pleased that the general public seconded their opinion, saying, "The positive feedback from HDTV viewers supports the recommendation that Consumer Reports has been making for the past year or so." They note that fans of sporting events and movies should particularly consider going high-def, and note that the general trend for new tech is in effect - - that being the dramatic decline in price as sales pick up. Consumer Reports says that the average price of an HDTV set has been halved since 2001. They also warn those who may be in the market for a new television to be wary of "yesterday's technology."

TVBR observation: It seems to us that there is absolutely no point in ever buying an analog television set again. In at least one TVBR household, we're happy with our analog sets for the time being, and will patiently sit back and watch the prices continue to move into a range more compatible with the number listed on the balance line of our checkbook. There is a word of warning to broadcasters contained in this report, however. The biggest flaw in the current HDTV landscape is lack or programming. If broadcasters overindulge in multicasting at the expense of providing high-def programming, they could well see their new "six-station" lineup actually bleed viewers. Just something to think about as we move ahead through the DTV transition process.


What's the buzz about disclosure?
We've been talking about pay-for-play and pay-for-say and VNRs and product placement quite a bit over the past year and a half. The simple fact is that none of these things are illegal - - as long as the string of events which leads to the airing of a particular broadcast is made readily apparent to the audience. The Education Department is perfectly free to produce video news releases, as long as they are clearly identified as ED productions (and don't run afoul of anti-propaganda regulations). A producer can have a character in a TV show can drink a particular soft drink for pay, as long as that payment is noted. To underscore just how pervasive the disclosure element of advertising is, we refer to an article in AdAge.com, which warns that even buzz marketing - - the inducement of word-of-mouth campaigns - - may fall under the heading of disclosure when they are started by paid instigators. If you send an operator into a bar to try and kick up positive conversation about a particular drink and fail to disclose the transaction, the campaign could well fall under FTC jurisdiction and be considered illegal. At least one company in the estimated 40M-60M business said this is no big deal - - such disclosure has no effect on the ultimate success of the campaign. It does underscore the make sure that all advertising relationships are properly documented and divulged.

CFO exits TiVo
Will the last person out the door please remember to turn off the lights at TiVo? Just months after the exit of former CEO Mike Ramsay and then former President Marty Yudkovitz, CFO David Courtney has also announced plans to become a "former" executive of TiVo. He'll continue with the company in a transitional role until tax day, April 15, 2006. Courtney has been at TiVo for six and a half years. And that's not all. The folks at Motley Fool point out that hidden in TiVo's SEC filing was an additional departure not noted in the company's press release. Brodie Keast, Exec. VP and General Manager of TiVo's consumer division has also said bye-bye.

Adelphia to viewers: Perdónenos por favor
If you're not familiar with Spanish, that's "Please forgive us." The problem is, Adelphia Cable accidentally delivered Sunday night's episode of ABC's "Desperate Housewives" in Spanish to about 20% of its LA-area subscribers - - over 200,000 households. Adelphia officials told the LA Times that the problem resulted from damage to Adelphia's fiber network by recent fires. A backup transmission system was misconfigured to pick up the dubbed Spanish version instead of the main English channel. Angry callers jammed the cable company's phone lines on Monday and Adelphia is trying to placate them with refunds. The missed episode will be re-aired by KABC-TV on Saturday evening so English-speaking viewers can be up on the story line for the next day's new episode.


Adbiz©

Mandel comments on Apollo issues
All of the headlines are now saying Nielsen and Arbitron have changed strategy for the test of the new ROI tool Project Apollo. The ratings companies that partnered on the proposed ROI enhancement service are now pitching broadcast and cable nets, radio nets and TV syndicators to join the project and support it financially. Why? After more than a year of trying to sign clients, they have still inked only Procter & Gamble. It's going to cost some 100 million to get this thing off the ground.

We asked Jon Mandel, Chairman/MediaCom US and Chief Global Buying Officer MediaCom Worldwide, what he thinks:

"I think that the Apollo Project is a great idea. It's something that advertisers want. It will be, ideally, multimedia. And ideally, these things are paid for by the advertisers and the media companies and the advertising agencies - - all of the people that would use the information. And everybody has to put in equally. Everybody has the potential to get a benefit out of Apollo, so everybody should have some skin in the game..."
| Read More... |

September SUV sales tumble
Sales of SUVs took a hit industry-wide in the U.S. as gas prices skyrocketed. Sales of the GMC Envoy and Chevrolet Tahoe fell more than 50% compared to last September. The Cadillac Escalade, Mazda Tribute, Ford Explorer, Ford Expedition, Toyota Sequoia and Nissan Armada all saw their sales fall by 18%+. Dodge Durango sales were down 11%, reported the AP. GM sales were down 24% overall. Its SUV and truck sales fell 30% and car sales dropped 14%. Ford also took a hit, with sales down nearly 20% in September. Ford, Lincoln and Mercury car sales rose 6%, but sales of trucks and SUVs fell nearly 28%. The company's overall sales were also flat for the first nine months of the year. However, strong pickup sales were further proof that gas prices aren't the only factor in the SUV's decline. The Dodge Ram pickup had its best month ever and its sales were up 5%, Chrysler Group said. Toyota said sales of its Tacoma pickup rose more than 21%. Chrysler bucked the trend among U.S. automakers, reporting a 4% increase in September sales, led by a 26% jump in car sales. The Dodge Neon, which Chrysler stopped making two weeks ago, saw a 69% increase. Chrysler's truck and SUV sales were down 1.8%, but its overall sales were up 7.5% for the year.

TVBR observation: Hard news for TV as newspaper in many local markets have tons of print space to fill with content on various special articles and to spot light local dealers by putting their face in the newspaper. If agencies need to help their dealers our suggestion to give you a little edge - first get local radio involved and maybe a way for TV to piggy back off of radio's live remotes to help curb the indigestion.


Media Markets & MoneyTM
Cherry Creek flows into Utah
Joe Schwartz and his Cherry Creek Radio are entering another smaller western market in a big way, with a 5.8M deal for five radio stations in the St. George/Cedar City market. The deal also gives the group a foothold in the television business. According to Media Services Group broker Greg Merrill, who handled the transaction, Cherry Creek will pick up KSUB-AM, KNNZ-AM, KXFF-FM, KXBN-FM & KMXM-FM on the radio side. Also included in the deal is a quartet of low power television stations, including KDLQ, KDLU, KMBU and KVBT. The seller is MB Media Group. St. George/Cedar City receives radio ratings from Eastlan, which ranks it at market #262 with a 12+ population of 127.5K. That is roughly equivalent to where it would sit on the Arbitron list. For television purposes, the market is considered to be part of Salt Lake City, although it in fact is much closer physically to Las Vegas NV.


Washington Beat
Watchdog going after flag backers
Producers of broadcast programming aren't particularly thrilled about putting digital content out there, only to have its value destroyed by uncontrolled reproduction and redistribution. On the other hand, a number of consumers groups aren't particularly thrilled by the prospect of losing the right to make fair copies of televised programming for personal use. US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia squashed the FCC's rules making the flag a reality. As Judge Harry T. Edwards said at the time, "In the seven decades of its existence, the FCC has never before asserted such sweeping authority. Indeed, in the past, the FCC has informed Congress that it lacked any such authority. In our view, nothing has changed to give the FCC the authority it now claims." A bipartisan 20-member posse has assembled in the House to assert congressional authority over the matter, and at least one consumer watchdog, boingboing.net, is out to get them, warning that "...elected lawmakers who break their constituents' televisions don't get re-elected."

TVBR observation: Let's get real. Citizens have the right to make a tape for their own use, and that right needs to be extended into the new technological parameters of the digital age. But that does not mean that program producers should be required to just throw their material out there for the convenience of content pirates. There is some doubt about whether a broadcast flag can be developed that will produce the desired result, but programmers have a right to at least try to protect their copyrighted material.
| Here are the pro-flag Reps |


Programming
ABC renews Jimmy Kimmel
"ABC is on a roll. It seemed inevitable that they'd do something like this to screw it up." That was Jimmy Kimmel's tongue-in-cheek response to ABC's agreement to extend his late-night talk show through 2006. "It was an easy decision to make," said Andrea Wong, executive vice president, Alternative Programming, Specials and Late-Night, ABC Entertainment. "The show continues to grow creatively, and Jimmy is at the top of his game right now, delivering a hilarious show night after night. We're thrilled he will continue to be part of ABC's current and future success." ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" draws an average audience of 1.5 million viewers per night, according to the network - - and that has been growing lately. Kimmel and Duncan Gray serve as executive producers. "Jimmy Kimmel Live" is shot live in front of a studio audience and produced by Jackhole Industries in association with Touchstone Television. The show airs at 12:05 am on ABC.


Ratings & Research
CBS and ABC celebrate again
Week two of the new TV season came out a lot like the first - - with CBS winning overall and ABC snaring the 18-49 demo. CBS scored an 8.3 HH rating and 13 share, with ABC at 7.2/12, followed by NBC 6.2/10, Fox 4.8/8, UPN and WB tied at 2.3/4 and i at 0.4/1. After tying with ABC's "Desperate Housewives" the previous week, CBS' "CSI" had sole possession of the top spot in week two. Much further down, it has to be a disappointment to UPN that "Everybody Hates Chris" fell to #79 in week two from #64 in its debut. It was still the highest rated show for UPN, but one slot behind the WB's top show, "Gilmore Girls."
| View the Chart |


HD Radio 2006
RBR Observation: HD Radio
is a chance to re-brand radio
Radio is at an important crossroads with the launch of HD Radio multicasting and RBR is calling for some creative thinking to make sure this opportunity to re-brand radio isn't missed or muddled. We presented our channel numbering proposal yesterday, which you can see again today.

| View the List |

But maybe you have an even better idea. We want to hear from you by email via [email protected]. We want to facilitate an industry-wide discussion of this vital issue. See our first feedback in today's Bounceback section.

We applaud Cox Radio for taking the initiative to survey consumers on what sort of numbering system for HD Radio they'd be most comfortable with (9/30/05 RBR #192), but what we're suggesting is that the folks at Cox should expand the range of options beyond those which begin with the current mHz designations for the FM band as a base. The current system was designed by engineers, not marketers. It is cumbersome and not consumer-friendly. HD Radio presents broadcasters with an opportunity to start over with a better branding approach that doesn't use a "point-anything" or tack on letters A, B, C, D, which infer that anything besides "A" is a step-child channel. Radio should seize this opportunity to start over and do it better. As you'll see, the proposal we at RBR have come up with uses consumer-friendly numbers and allows for future multicasting expansion by giving each current licensee a range of 10 channel numbers to use. It would keep AM HD pretty much in line with the current numbering scheme, dropping the kHz designation, to have HD Channels 530 through 1709. FM HD would then begin at HD Channel 2000 and run through 3009. These designations would avoid duplicating channel numbers already widely used by TV and satellite radio. People can easily remember four-digit numbers, just like their phone number or ATM pin. In fact, we believe it is easier to remember "Channel 26-80" (people will remember it as a pair of two-digit numbers) than one-oh-one-point-five. A consumer will find it easy to remember that their favorite stations are "Today's County 23-10," "Country Giant 27-20" and "Classic Country 27-21," that the local weather is on 29-41 and that they also like "Rob and Laura in the Morning" on "Q-670." That's our idea. We'd like to see yours.


Transactions
235M KGUN-TV Tucson; WFTX-TV Fort Myers-Naples FL (Cape Coral FL); and KMTV-TV Omaha NE from Emmis Television License LLC, a subsidiary of Emmis Communications Corp. (Jeff Smulyan) to Journal Broadcast Corporation (James P. Prather). 23.5M escrow, balance in cash at closing. Cross-ownership in Tucson with KGMG-FM, KFFN-AM, KMXZ-FM & KZPT-FM; cross-ownership in Omaha with KEZO-FM, KQCH-FM, KBBX-FM, KSRZ-FM, KKCD-FM, KOMJ-AM, KHLP-AM & KOSR-AM, likely requiring spin-off of two or three radio stations. [File date 8/29/05.]


Stock Talk
Stock fall on economic worries
There was plenty of bad news for Wall Street yesterday. Clorox and Lexmark cut their earnings outlooks and JP Morgan downgraded Procter & Gamble. On top of that, the head of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank indicated that the Fed is likely to continue increasing rates. The Dow Industrials fell 94 points, or 0.9%, to 10,441.

TV stocks also fell. The Radio Index fell 1.414, or 0.7% to 201.000. News Corp., LIN and Emmis each fell 1.9%. One of the few gainers was Disney, up 2.3%. Entravision also gained 2.3%.


Stocks

Here's how stocks fared on Tuesday

Company Symbol Close Change Company Symbol Close Change

Acme

ACME

4.04

+0.09

Media General

MEG

58.25

-0.50

Belo

BLC

23.16

-0.03

Meredith

MDP

49.55

-0.26

Clear Channel

CCU

32.48

-0.41

News Corp.

NWS

15.98

-0.31

Disney

DIS

24.56

+0.55

Nexstar

NXST

5.65

+0.11

Emmis

EMMS

21.50

-0.42

NY Times

NYT

28.97

-0.31

Entravision

EVC

7.97

+0.18

Paxson

PAX

0.46

+0.02

Fisher

FSCI

47.30

+0.30

Saga Commun.

SGA

13.52

+0.16

Gannett

GCI

68.38

-0.24

SBS

SBSA

7.29

+0.02

Gen. Electric

GE

32.85

-0.38

Scripps

SSP

50.15

-0.14

Granite

GBTVK

0.40

+0.04

Sinclair

SBGI

8.80

-0.04

Gray

GTN

10.45

+0.05

Time Warner

TWX

18.10

+0.04

Gray, C1. A

GTNa

9.88

-0.04

Tribune

TRB

34.05

+0.08

Hearst-Argyle

HTV

25.42

-0.34

Univision

UVN

26.44

-0.11

Jeff-Pilot

JP

50.85

-0.51

Viacom, Cl. A

VIA

32.80

-0.37

Journal Comm.

JRN

14.81

-0.12

Viacom, Cl. B

VIAb

32.60

-0.38

Liberty Corp

LC

46.90

-0.15

Wash. Post

WPO

793.50

-13.00

LIN TV

TVL

13.70

-0.27

Young

YBTVA

3.40

-0.23

McGraw-Hill

MHP

46.76

-0.79

-

-

-

-

-


Bounceback

Send Us Your OpinionsWe want to
hear from you.

This is your column, so send your comments to [email protected]

Cox Radio has an idea on how HD Radio should be numbered and RBR has its own proposal which we think is more consumer-friendly. See today's HD Radio 2006 if you missed it. But this reader says it's time to get the pros involved in resolving this marketing issue.

Gentlemen,
I refer you to my letter of 4-6 weeks ago (9/7/05 TVBR #175) in which I pointed out that by following the numbering scheme of satellite radio, we would be saying to the public "Yes, even though we have been here for 80 years, we will follow the lead of the newcomer, satellite radio. They have it right and after 80 years, we've decided that we have it wrong. They are the leaders, we are the followers." Using the numbering scheme of satellite radio would telegraph this exact message. How we unveil and promote side channels is a marketing decision (not a programming decision). I strongly recommend that the industry turn to marketing professionals such as Ries and Trout or Seth Godin, for counsel. Our current RADIO industry leaders are qualified to deal with Wall Street, NOT to set marketing paths that will have such far reaching and important long term ramifications for the entire industry. You don't visit a dentist for your backache. Why would radio professionals make marketing decisions?

Russ Oasis


TV Media Moves

Leone to Fox
Lew Leone has departed his East Side Manhattan office as President/GM of Viacom's WCBS-TV (Ch. 2, CBS) to relocate on the West Side as VP/GM of News Corporation's WNYW-TV (Ch. 5, Fox) and WWOR-TV (Ch. 9, UPN). Leone now has five of New York's VHF stations on his resume, since he'd previously been VP/Sales at WNBC-TV (Ch. 4, NBC) and an Account Executive at WABC-TV (Ch. 7, ABC).


More News Headlines

EchoStar signs
with Nielsen

EchoStar announced that its Dish Satellite TV service has signed up with Nielsen Media Research for national TV ratings service. The deal will allow Dish to use Nielsen data for marketing, programming and sales research purposes. Dish says it will be able to use the Nielsen data to guarantee advertisers a specific number of viewers for advertisements. "we're committed to delivering an accountable platform for advertisers," said Susan Arnold, VP of Programming for Dish.

Two weeks
until Freedom of
Speech Week

NAB Education Foundation (NABEF) and The Media Institute are holding Freedom of Speech Week in Washington - - it will convene from 10/17-23/05 to "...draw attention to the importance of this constitutional right." A NABEF luncheon is scheduled for 10/18 and a Media Institute banquet will be held the following day. If you've never heard of Freedom of Speech Week, that's because this marks the event's maiden voyage. Other participating organizations include American Association of Advertising Agencies, American Bar Association, Americans for the Arts, National Constitution Center and National Endowment for the Humanities.

CHUM adds 11 stations to hub via VCI
Video Communications, Inc. (VCI), a supplier of integrated media solutions to the broadcast and cable industry, announced CHUM Television has used VCI's products to add 11 new stations to its hubbing center in Toronto bringing the total to 31 stations. Through VCI's STARS II+, the industry's leading sales, traffic and accounting system, CHUM has created one of the largest hubbed operations in North America, centralizing the business of 31 of its 33 local stations and specialty (cable) channels.


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

VNU is in a Dizzy
Will Billboard go on the block?
VNU, parent company of Nielsen Media Research, is facing a revolt by major institutional shareholders over its pending seven billion bucks deal to buy IMS Health. One possible outcome, according to the Wall Street Journal, is that VNU may look at selling its trade publishing unit, including Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter. VNU contends that the deal will be accretive from the get-go, institutional shareholders owning more than a third of VNU's shares are balking. As for the possibility of selling the trade pubs to raise cash, it is a business which has been quite challenging in recent years (don't we know it!).
TVBR observation: Will Perry Partners step up to bid for Billboard to combine with Radio & Records? Or has Rick Perry had enough of the trade publishing business? We also have to shake our heads at 7 billion as this is a heavy price to pay for a seat at the NYSE. The entire VNU company has a lot a risk going into 2006 like LPM - just going to toss that out the window? TVBR recommendation to VNU bosses - Do not wear rose colored glasses because with out focus no company can have clear vision.
10/04/05 TVBR #194

A call for more radio dereg - Oh Boy
While critics in Washington say radio ownership deregulation has gone too far already, Clear Channel Communications CEO Mark Mays calling for Congress to allow a single company to own more than the current limit of eight stations in the largest markets - - 10 in markets with at least 60 stations and 12 in markets with at least 75 stations. "Free radio is struggling. The cost of competing with new technologies and increased listener choice is staggering and profits are down. TVBR observation: Maybe radio should call for a hearing on the Hill on this topic as Tribune did asking the feds to regulate VNU's AC Nielsen. Hummmm. Bottom line for radio and TV - get a more a proactive strategy with open talks for all to participate. Complaining ain't going to get nothing done.
10/04/05 TVBR #194

Radio Back in the black in August
Radio was flat in June, dropped a deuce (-2%) in July, and picked the deuce back up (+2%) in August, making it, on final analysis, an essentially flat summer, on even footing with the three summer months of 2004. YTD, the chart could well be an example of binary computer language - - it's all ones and zeroes. Local and national revenue are up 1%, and non-spot is flat, making for a 1% gain overall through eight months. MBR observation: Remember the Clinton years, which featured month after month of boring 8%-12% gains? Then there was the big boom just before the dot-com bubble burst, as dot-coms started spending like the desperate mortally-fearful characters many of them in fact were. Then there was the equally deep valley after the bubble burst. Now were in a stretch that would make Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats proud. Emmis just reported that radio pacings seem to be picking up, but if that's true generally, it will fly in the face of the hurricanes which surely will toss the effects of millions in lost revenue into the averaging pot from September on, so even if Emmis is right, it may not show up in the numbers in the near future. We therefore suggest keeping the salt shaker handy when ready the revenue numbers for the next couple of months.
10/04/05 TVBR #194

Rehr-ing to go?
Advertising, particularly as it relates to the beer industry, has been a prime area of concern for National Beer Wholesalers Association President David Rehr, as TVBR reported first last Thursday, is widely expected to take over the office of Eddie Fritts at the National Association of Broadcasters. This is at least one area of overlapping concern from between the two associations, and Rehr's position at NBWA should dovetail easily with that commonly held by broadcasters - - that advertising is a form of free speech and should be under as little restriction as possible. TVBR observation: Broadcasters key inside edge as one result of BCRA is that Rehr spent much of the 2003 Republican National Convention holding parties and tapping kegs for one group of convention attendees or another, according the USA Today. He complained that there was little else he could do with his "soft" money. Rehr's ties to the Republican Party are indeed extensive, and the roots run deep. According to New Republic, he was very much involved in the Tom Delay (R-TX) strategy to fill Washington's unofficial Lobbyist Row, otherwise known as K Street, with Republicans, and further achieved Pioneer status with the campaign of George W. Bush for bringing in 100K in contributions. For NAB an entirely red president could pose a problem - - red can be good for issues on the business side of the equation, but the blue, or Democratic side, is often necessary to when other issue! s, like free speech and reasonable indecency standards are on the table.
10/03/05 TVBR #193

Local Sales Edge
Top Ten searches in Yellow Pages

Restaurants, physicians, automobiles and lawyers are among the Top Ten categories searched by Americans when accessing the print and online Yellow Pages, according to research announced today by the Yellow Pages Association.
10/03/05 TVBR #193


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