Welcome to TVBR's Daily Epaper
Volume 24, Issue 233, Jim Carnegie, Editor & Publisher
Friday Morning November 30th, 2007
WGA Strike Central: Day 26
WGA, AMPTP still talking;
no breakthroughs

The WGA and studio reps for AMPTP have agreed to keep talking, and have been each day since they agreed to resume talks. However, we're hearing there's some stagnation. Reportedly, most of the discussion in the sessions held has amounted to how to agree to move forward in seeking a compromise on new media residuals. Said LA Weekly's Nikki Finke: "There's little more to say about Wednesday's talks other than that, unfortunately. 'This is not heading in the right direction,' a mogul quoted his labor exec as saying to him yesterday. Another source told me, 'It's stalemated. Nothing's getting achieved.' I'm not sure people are aware that CAA partner Bryan Lourd all week has been at the hotel where the talks are being held. He's working both sides in a form of 'footstep diplomacy.' An insider told me, 'He keeps asking what everybody needs.' This is what Lew Wasserman used to do during these things. Wasserman would say, 'I want to know what you each need. I don't want to know what you want. Go in the other room and tell me what you need.'"

Democrats cancel debate
The Democratic National Committee has decided to pull the plug on the CBS News debate on 12/10 because candidates were unwilling to cross the writers strike picket lines. 12/10 is the day reportedly set by the WGA for the CBS News writers to begin the strike, although the WGA East is now denying that. The DNC said the uncertainty created by that imminent strike as the reason for the cancellation. The debate will not be rescheduled. Several candidates, including Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards, had already said that they wouldn't attend if the writers actively picketed the LA event. "The possibility of picket lines set up by the Writers Guild of America and the unwillingness of many candidates to cross them made it necessary to allow the candidates to make other plans," CBS News said in a statement.


TV News ®

Defending your license, NJ-style
Fox's MNT/9 station in the New York metro, WWOR-TV, faced critics concerned that it focuses too much on serving: The New York metro. Led by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), they told an FCC-sponsored forum that the station should pay more attention to the New Jersey residents in and around its Secaucus NJ city of license. In fact, Lautenberg's input and a summertime conversation with FCC Chairman Kevin Martin were said to be a key factor in getting the hearing on the schedule in the first place. "WWOR's license depends on how well it meets its obligations to New Jersey. It's renewal time and the evidence is clear: WWOR has failed in its responsibility to serve the people of New Jersey," said Lautenberg. "If it renews the license, the FCC needs to get tough and include specific, measurable steps to ensure coverage of our state." Other witnesses noted that the station IDs itself as "My9 New York," and according to the New York Times, one young long-time viewer was surprised to learn that it was in fact a New Jersey and not a New York station.

WWOR VP/GM Lew Leone made the case for the station, pulling out footage of station coverage of New Jersey news, state election news, and interviews with state officials on public affairs programming. WWOR further cited popular sports programming, including major league teams the Yankees, Giants and Nets, which is very popular with New Jersey viewers, and it also was able to produce supporters within the local New Jersey community. The station is said to owe New Jersey a higher level of coverage than usual going back to a 1982 dispute in which it moved from New York to New Jersey in an arrangement engineered by former Sen. Bill Bradley (D-NJ). However, Lautenberg and allies do not seem optimistic about preventing the license renewal.

TVBR observation: It's hard to justify killing a license renewal in an environment where stations running home shopping networks -- essentially operating as a 24/7 commercial -- are considered to be serving the local community. And if people are using them to shop, they are serving the community. And so are small stations running old sitcoms or old movies or documentaries about beetles. If anybody is choosing to watch, it's a service utilized by a portion of the local community. Nobody is going to confuse such a station with a market leader. But can a legislator or bureaucrat insist that a station run out and interview the first alderman or school board member it sees to fulfill its public interest requirement? We don't think so -- there is nothing on the books that allows any portion of the government to appoint itself program director. WWOR-TV could get a copy of the New Jersey State Constitution, fling it on the ground and dance on it, and keep its license, just as long as it's operating at the authorized power for the necessary number of hours daily. That's what free speech is all about. However, when News Corporation's two-TV, one-newspaper cluster (not counting the nationally-focused Wall Street Journal) is up for review, if and when cross-ownership rules are ever legally on the books, that's when the license may be in jeopardy. Stay tuned. But don't hold your breath.

Clear Channel gets clearance to spin TVs
A 13.7B transaction sending 35 television stations and associated low power properties to Newport Television has been given a conditional go-ahead from the FCC. Newport will be required to bring itself into compliance with local ownership caps, due largely to the presence of backer Providence Equity Partners. PEP has interests in Univision and, by extension, Entravision, as well as Freedom Communications. It will need to make moves in nine of the markets in the immediate transaction. The application for sale was unopposed. The deal was opposed by Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps, however, who sees it not as a divestiture from one large broadcaster to a smaller one, but rather as a lateral move from large company to another. He said PEP will wind up with interests in 86 television stations and 99 radio stations once this deal is closed.

TVBR observation: How much control does an equity backer exert on localism in broadcast programming? We'd guess not much, other than to support it because generally it's a good business practice. But with cash in short supply, we'd have to think twice about the ultimate affect on public interest that would follow chasing money out of the business. It Newport/PEP competitors aren't motivated to protest this transaction, we can't muster much enthusiasm to protest it either. Assuming the deal does go to closure, it should in fact offer some opportunity for small and/or minority/female-owned businesses to score a station. But beware, Mr. Copps. They too may need a company similar to PEP to help them do it.


NAB wants LPFM to keep its distance
Citing "the laws of physics," the National Association of Broadcasters requested that third adjacency protections for incumbent full-power stations remain firmly in place as the FCC and Congress attempt to pave the way for more LPFM stations. But the trade organization had praise for some of the FCC's plans for the service. NAB EVP Dennis Wharton said, "...in general, NAB is pleased the Commission clarified that LPFM stations must indeed be locally-owned with locally-originated programming, and limits ownership to one station per licensee." Avoidance of interference remains the critical issue, and NAB continues to dispute the Mitre report that has been used as an underpinning for both FCC and Congress in their effort to expand LPFM service. Wharton said, "Though this is a recommendation identical to one made several years ago by the FCC, NAB continues to believe that statutory third-adjacent channel protections are critically important to protect listeners against interference. The idea that hundreds, if not thousands, of additional LPFM stations can be shoe-horned into an overcrowded radio dial without causing considerable interference simply defies the laws of physics." Wharton also mentioned the FCC's notice of proposed further rulemaking. "We share the concerns expressed by Commissioners Tate and McDowell about the Commission's decision to adopt interim processing guidelines without full notice and opportunity for comment, but we look forward to working with the Commission to find a solution that works for all."

TVBR observation: There is an element to this reminiscent of a battle being waged right over the white spaces between television stations. Many large companies would like to sell unlicensed spectrum devices that operate on channels not currently in use by licensed broadcast facilities. However, it has not yet been shown that these devices can operate without causing disruptive interference to the incumbents, and it seems foolhardy in the extreme to suddenly flood the market with them exactly when the nation is embarking on a high-stakes switch to digital technology. White space devices and LPFM should both be brought along rationally and deliberately.

Markey planning to bring
back net neutrality bill

A Republican Congress kept Ed Markey (D-MA) and colleagues in the Senate from making headway in making the concept of digital network neutrality a matter of law. With fresh controversies regarding blocked content and Democrats at the helms of both houses, word is out that Markey is set to try again. Telecom companies AT&T and Verizon, and cable giant Comcast, have all been cited in content blocking incidents, and many fear such corporate interventions will become the norm if mandates calling for equal treatment of content are not on the books. Similar legislation is already pending in the Senate, courtesy of Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

TVBR observation: The point of net neutrality is that communications are treated equally as phone calls have been. That's it. We think the argument that imposing net neutrality will inhibit investment is disingenuous. There's money in them thar virtual hills, and investors will go after it, with net neutrality or not. Innovator Mark Cuban testified before the House earlier this year that the current Internet infrastructure is aging rapidly, but that increased bandwidth with cure all ills and make the net neutrality issue moot. If he's right, common carriers and content generators can all enjoy a nice payday without self-appointed gatekeepers deciding what is and is not made available to the community at large.


Wall Street Business Report TM
Divide and prosper
There's still time to get in on a 13% increase in dividend payouts at Walt Disney Co. You have until 12/7/07 to become a shareholder of record and pick up 35 cents per share on 1/11/08. That total represents a four cent increase over the prior dividend level.


Media Business Report TM
Broadway stagehands, producers strike tentative deal
IATSE/Labor One and the Broadway producers have struck a tentative deal late last night, with all shuttered shows back to performing this evening. Some 20 Broadway theaters are back in action after weeks. Musicals such as "The Phantom of the Opera" and "The Lion King," closed since negotiations ended 11/10, were among the first set to reopen tonight. 27 theaters in all were shuttered in the strike.


Washington Business Report TM
Religious group lauds cable brakes
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has the cable industry in his cross-hairs, with items such as imposing a national subscriber cap, limiting the amount of self-produced programming that can be used in an attempt to increase program diversity, and possibly mandating a la carte channel menu provision. But a key data point underpinning the attempt at adding new layers of regulation is in dispute -- to whit, whether the systems with 36 or more channels have 70% of the nation signed on for MVPD service -- moving the Commission from regulating back to data gathering. The Faith and Family Broadcasting Coalition applauded the halt. It argues that the increasing sub lists at services like DirecTV, DISH Network, FiOS and U-verse render the old 70-70 threshold obsolete. In particular, the organization does not want the FCC meddling in the channel offering method, arguing that the noble intent of allowing families to take a pass on edgy channels will in fact kill off numerous niche channels that are in fact family-oriented.

TVBR observation: As many have pointed out, you cannot say to the local newspaper that you only want the News and Sports sections, and do not feel it's fair to support their production of Business, Lifestyle, Arts, Classifieds, and whatever else the newspaper provides that you don't intend to read. You want to read the News, you buy the whole paper. The FCC has no more business butting into cable's business model than it does print's. The answer to the parental control problem are parental controls (duh) that are provided.


Entertainment Business Report TM
Jim Cramer re-ups with CNBC
CNBC announced that Jim Cramer, host of "Mad Money w/Jim Cramer" (6PM & 11PM ET), has signed a multi-year deal to remain with the network. "Jim has played an integral part in CNBC's rebirth. He is not only one of the most respected and successful Wall Street minds but also happens to be a great entertainer," said Mark Hoffman, CNBC President. "I'm thrilled Jim will remain part of the CNBC family. When Jim Cramer speaks, people listen, and so does the market."


Ratings & Research
CBS goes four-for-four
The SNTA/Nielsen Galaxy Explorer syndication chart for the week of 11/12-18/07 saw CBS Television Distribution grab the top four slots and eight of the top ten. Judge Judy was in #2, behind top game shows Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy.

Syndication: 11/12/07-11/18/07

# Live

PROGRAMS

ORIG

HHLD Rtg. Live + SD

1

WHEEL OF FORTUNE

CTD

8.2

2

JUDGE JUDY

CTD

7.7

3

JEOPARDY

CTD

6.7

3t

OPRAH WINFREY SHOW

CTD

6.7

5

TWO AND A HALF MEN

WB

6.0

6

EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND

CTD

5.9

7

ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT

CTD

5.3

8

FAMILY GUY-M-F

2/T

5.2

9

DR. PHIL SHOW

CTD

5.1

10

CSI MIAMI

CTD

4.9

 

 

 

 

Source: SNTA; Nielsen Media Research data


Transactions
320K KECY-TV Yuma AZ- El Centro CA (El Centro CA) from Pacific Media Corporation (Peter G. Sieler) to Gulf-California Broadscast Company, a subsidiary of News-Press & Gazette Company (David R. Bradley Jr., Henry H. Bradley). Cash less credits for sale of El Centro studio. Deal is pursuant to purchase option of 3/19/97. KECY-TV is Fox affiliate on Ch. 9/DTV 48. Deal also include KDFX-CA Indio CA (Fox/33) in the Palm Springs CA market, where buyer ownsef KESQ-TV (ABC/42). Buyer owns numerous other low-power TV stations in both markets. [File date 11/15/07.]


Stock Talk
Stocks edge up amid mixed signals
There was good news and there was troubling news to digest on Wall Street yesterday, but after two days of soaring, traders kept things on the up-and-up, although on a much more modest basis. Did your favorite broadcaster participate on the positive side of this mixed bag? Find out below.


Stocks

Here's how stocks fared on Thursday

Company Symbol Close Change Company Symbol Close Change

Acme

ACME

3.06

-0.01

Lincoln Natl.

LNC

60.71

-0.19

Belo

BLC

16.80

-0.44

LIN TV

TVL

10.19

-0.84

CBS CI. B CBS

27.26

+0.12

McGraw-Hill

MHP

47.61

-0.03

CBS CI. A CBSa

27.24

+0.04

Media General

MEG

25.08

+0.15

Clear Channel

CCU

35.60

+0.31

Meredith

MDP

54.98

-1.32

Disney

DIS

32.81

+0.12

News Corp.

NWS

21.49

-0.28

Emmis

EMMS

4.27

-0.27

Nexstar

NXST

8.92

-0.15

Entravision

EVC

7.64

-0.36

Ion Media

ION

1.38

unch

Equity Media EMDA 2.10 -0.13

Saga Commun.

SGA

6.96

+0.16

Fisher

FSCI

41.32

-0.68

SBS

SBSA

1.73

-0.02

Gannett

GCI

36.46

-0.41

Scripps

SSP

43.81

-0.46

Gen. Electric

GE

38.14

-0.32

Sinclair

SBGI

10.38

-0.02

Google GOOG

697.00

+4.74

SWMX

SWMX

0.01

unch

Gray

GTN

8.00

+0.10

Time Warner

TWX

17.29

+0.07

Gray, C1. A

GTNa

8.30

+0.30

Tribune

TRB

30.99

+0.99

Hearst-Argyle

HTV

18.49

-0.81

Wash. Post

WPO

802.24

+2.24

Journal Comm.

JRN

8.95

-0.10

Young

YBTVA

1.31

-0.09


Bounceback

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Below the Fold

Wall Street Business Report
Divide and prosper
Still time to get in on a 13% increase at Walt Disney Co...

Washington Business Report
Religious group lauds cable brakes
FCC Chairman Martin has the cable industry in his cross-hairs...

Media Business Report
Broadway stagehands,
Producers strike tentative deal...

Entertainment Business Report
Jim Cramer
Re-ups with CNBC...


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TV Media Moves

CBS's Guitano moves over to radio
Not only will Anton Guitano have to get used to the lack of visuals, he'll have less room on his business card as he shifts from EVP/CFO at CBS Television Group to Senior Executive Vice President of Finance and Operations and Chief Financial Officer at CBS Radio under Dan Mason. He is in his 29th year with the company.

Catch 22
Stan Pylant managed to catch the corner office at CBS WHNT-TV in Huntsville AL, the cumlination of a 22-year run at the station. He'll operate out of his new digs as President/GM of the Local TV/Oak Hill station.


More News Headlines

ABC, WGAE forge tentative deal
While CBS News writers prepare for their alleged 12/10 strike, ABC and the WGA East have a tentative contract agreement for the network's union news writers and other staffers. The guild set a vote date of 12/13 to ratify. The agreement covers 250 ABC News writers, editors and graphic artists in NYC and DC, including ABC News and WABC-TV. The contract would run through 2/1/10. The union members have been working without one since 1/31/05. Each would get 3.5% annual raises and a 3,700 dollar contract bonus for full-time employees (prorated for others).



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

WGA Strike Central, Day 25
Not happy about Carson Daly going back to work
Early-morning talk show host Carson Daly is going back to work on his NBC program, "Last Call," crossing the WGA picket line-breaking the ranks from idled talkers like Leno and Letterman. Daly, whose show airs at 1:30 AM on weekday mornings.

TVBR observation: Daly most likely had to go back to work and see what he could do for two reasons. One, to be the "first one to go back" (many reports say hosts don't want to be the first one back because of finger pointing); and two, because he is not a member of the WGA. NBC probably nudged him a bit, since he's under no WGA obligations.
11/29/07 TVBR #232

TV will ride the upside in 2008
Advertising will gain in 2008, according to Lehman Brothers. They expect gains of 3.7% to 310.8B in total advertising over 2007 (and they think this year will be up 2.6% over last), followed by a gain of 2.8% in 2009. But the 2008 pick-up is expected to skew toward digital platforms and even more, to national over local business. In fact, LB is looking for a 6% increase in national to 182.6B, compared to an mere 0.6% increase in local, to 128.2B. The roller coaster political cycle will help television. Headed to an 0.3% loss this year, broadcast TV is expected to gain 5% in 2008, and then swoop back down 3.9% in 2009. They're calling for a 1% gain at the big four nets this year, followed by a 3% gain in 2008 and a 3% loss in 2009. That prediction has predictable results regarding their opinion of radio.

TVBR observation: One of the key ways we are all going to have to maintain a nourishing diet is to make sure our own associated Internet properties are getting their fair share of the pie. Whether you want to count that money as broadcasting or Internet is immaterial to us. As far as we're concerned, a dollar is a dollar is a dollar.
11/29/07 TVBR #232

WGA Strike Central, Day 24
WGA, AMPTP new talks optimistic
So far, resumed contract negotiations between The Writers Guild of America (WGA) and network and studio representatives of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television (AMPTP) producers have been productive, even though there were no public updates. Bottom line-both sides have agreed to keep meeting. Meanwhile, picketing resumed in LA and NYC and writers kept up their Internet-based virtual picketing via YouTube, blogs and forums. According to her sources, both sides spent the session recapping where they'd left off negotiations back on 11/4, right before the strike. There will continue to be a news blackout on the contract talks, meaning no end-of-day statements by either the AMPTP or WGA.
11/28/07 TVBR #231

FCC tables ownership review
We expected that the big item on the planned discussion of media ownership rules at the FCC would not include discussion of Chairman Kevin Martin's proposal to eliminate cross-ownership restrictions in the top 20 markets. That vote is widely believed to penciled in for 12/18/07, allowing a month or so for commentary. But the whole item was pulled from the delayed meeting. The news will come as at least a mild disappointment to watchdog organizations that were looking for movement on the issue of increasing broadcast ownership for minorities and women in particular and, to use the more court-friendly designation, socially-disadvantaged businesses in general.
11/28/07 TVBR #231


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