Welcome to TVBR's Daily Epaper
Volume 24, Issue 239, Jim Carnegie, Editor & Publisher
Monday Morning December 10th, 2007
WGA Strike Central: Day 36
WGA-AMPTP negotiations break down
The AMPTP late Friday declared a breakdown in negotiations and walked away from talks with WGA. The breakdown came after a tough week of talks that moved progress actually backward, rather than forward. The studios' negotiator Nicholas Counter reportedly sent a letter to WGA counterpart, David Young, demanding that the writers withdraw a number of proposals before talks resume: Internet compensation; jurisdiction issues involving reality and animation writers; the WGA's desire to get a portion of ad revenue from Internet streaming; and a proposal to remove a clause from the current contract that prevents writers from joining strikes by other unions. Said Counter: "We are leaving. When you write us a letter saying you will take all these items off the table, we will reschedule negotiations with you." This latest round lasted for eight days.
| See the AMPTP statement here |

TVBR observation: See our related story about reality readiness for midseason. Bottom line, the networks and studios have already planned for midseason changes to accommodate a long strike. Agencies and advertisers will still buy television, but less of it. With less expensive production costs on reality shows (and obviously the cheap ride with repeats), studios might actually be anticipating a more profitable 2008, who knows. Obviously, the studios and networks feel they can ride this one out, as the WGA strike money will be running out as well. It's a game of chicken that AMPTP thinks it can win. If the timing of all of this were eight months ago, things might be different. What a mess in Hollywood-a lot of money and jobs are going to be lost if this isn't solved soon.

WGA week in review: Why talks broke down
Last week brought back deteriorating (and then broken) negotiations between WGA and Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, after WGA had a few days to consider an offer the week before by AMPTP. Their proposal would deliver more than 130 million in additional compensation to writers over three years. The WGA issued a joint statement from WGA West president Patric Verrone and WGA East president Michael Winship calling the proposal as "a massive rollback." WGA Chair/Negotiating Committee John Bowman also sent an email to members on 12/4, providing a summary of the latest WGA proposal. It would cost the companies 151 million over three years-a little over a 3% increase in writer earnings each year, while company revenues are projected to grow at a rate of 10%. He said AMPTP claims its proposal would give WGA 130 million over three years. "Our analysis - and again, please visit the website to see for yourself - tells us their offer is worth only 32 million. But if you factor in the companies' regressive proposal on "promotional use" (streaming TV shows and feature films in their entirety for free) writers could potentially lose 100 million in income over the course of this contract."

WGA released some of the AMPTP proposal's details, mentioning the companies presented in essence their 11/4 package with "not an iota of movement on any of the issues that matter to writers. For streaming television episodes, the companies proposed a residual structure of a single fixed payment of less than 250 for a year's reuse of an hour-long program (compared to over 20,000 payable for a network rerun). For theatrical product they are offering no residuals whatsoever for streaming. For made-for-Internet material, they offered minimums that would allow a studio to produce up to a 15 minute episode of network-derived web content for a script fee of 1,300 dollars. They continued to refuse to grant jurisdiction over original content for the Internet. In their new proposal, they made absolutely no move on the download formula (which they propose to pay at the DVD rate), and continue to assert that they can deem any reuse "promotional," and pay no residual (even if they replay the entire film or TV episode and even if they make money)."

Reality TV: The straw that
broke the camel's back?

Another sticking point became discussions of Reality TV. WGA reportedly demanded network and studio CEOs no longer make deals with Reality TV producers like Mark Burnett Productions, Fremantle and Endemol unless those companies sign with the WGA. This is part of the WGA's ongoing efforts to make sure Reality TV writers (often dubbed the shows' story editors or story producers) start to receive the same perks and pay as the union's members. WGA's demand may have been timed to coincide with a protest outside Fremantle Media HQ. We found this to be a "cover all your bases" move at the last minute from WGA, as they realize more and more the networks and studios are gearing up for a midseason of reality shows. It's unlikely this negotiation fodder will get any traction whatsoever with AMPTP, as it is their trump card.

Good faith negotiations out the window
Verrone also called on producers to break ranks with the AMPTP, whom he said is allowing "hard-liners" to obstruct negotiations. "If any of these companies want to come forward and bargain with us individually, we think we can make a deal," he told The AP while talking to picketing writers at NBC's studio in Burbank. "I don't really feel like they're negotiating, and part of how they operate is the AMPTP allows bottom-line hard-liners to rule the day."
| Before talks broke off... |

TV News ®

News Corp. finds buyer
The long nightmare is over for News Corporation. Macrovision has agreed to buy Gemstar-TV Guide for 2.8 billion bucks. That's a tiny fraction of the value of the merger in 2000 that created the company, then valued at 14.2 billion, but at least News Corporation will get over a billion for its 41% stake. It and other shareholders will get 6.35, or the equivalent in Macrovision stock, for each share of Gemstar-TV Guide when the deal closes. The maximum cash payout will be 1.55 billion, with the remainder to be in stock. Macrovision, whose main business is technology to protect content from illegal copying, recently announced a deal to acquire All Media Guide Holdings, a provider of databases for entertainment products. "Combining Macrovision's and Gemstar-TV Guide's solution portfolios will enable extensive libraries of commercial and personal protected content to be accessible on numerous devices through simple and intuitive guides. For example, consumers will be able to pull up a guide on their TV and receive personalized content and information regarding their favorite TV shows, read movie reviews before purchasing or renting a film, view personal photos, or tap into their music library," the companies said in Friday's merger announcement.

TVBR observation: It has been quite an adventure for News Corporation to untangle this mess. Merging TV Guide, which it then owned, with Gemstar's high-tech systems for utilizing the TV Guide data and brand name seemed like a winner in 2000 and the stock price of the merged company went over a hundred bucks a share. But in 2002 the company became embroiled in a financial scandal when it was learned that Gemstar CEO Henry Yuen had been playing fast and loose with the numbers. He was ousted from the merged company, eventually was ordered to pay over 22 million personally in the fraud case and the company had to restate over 225 million in revenues reported in its SEC filings. News Corporation, which appears to have been the biggest victim of the fraud, can now wash its hands of the whole affair - but at a hefty loss.

Trying to shoot down big group backers
The National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters said that equity backer participation in certain large broadcast groups was granted contingent on divestitures in markets where local ownership or cross-ownership caps are implicated. But it wants to see properties spinning, not boardroom votes. NABOB notes that Providence Equity Partners, to get a chunk of Univision, had to "...either divest its interest in Freedom or Univision divest the broadcast station licenses that implicate the newspaper/cross-ownership rule in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Fresno-Visalia, Harlingen-Weslaco-Brownsville-McAllen and Odessa-Midland markets..." Likewise, Thomas H. Lee Partners, in order to get a piece of Univision, had to "...divest its interest in Cumulus Media LLC or Univision divest the broadcast station licenses that implicate the radio/television cross-ownership rule and the radio local ownership rule."

NABOB argues that keeping the stations while ditching the votes doesn't cut it. The association cites Commissioner Michael Copps' (D) contention that "...the growing control and influence of private equity firms in the ownership of broadcast licenses has not been adequately reviewed by the Commission." NABOB said, "Increasingly, the largest companies holding Commission licenses are becoming controlled by a very small group of private equity firms." In many markets, it argues, the same private equity companies are behind license companies that should be competing with one another. The Commission, it says, should stand firm on demanding meaningful property divestitures. "The eight hundred pound gorilla does no need to vote to get his way; he just needs to be in the room," concluded NABOB in opposing the proposed restructuring.

TVBR observation: Many think it is a good thing to free broadcast companies from the tether of the quarterly Wall Street conference call, and it is certainly a good thing to have investment capital flowing into the business. On the other hand, NABOB has a point -- how hard will two step-sister clusters compete against one another in a market where they could instead silently agree to divide and conquer clusters and standalones owned by completely unaffiliated groups and local owners? We would love to get your take on this -- your thoughtful Bouncebacks are welcomed.

Networks launch primetime plan
With the WGA strike approaching its second month, broadcast networks are scrambling to replace many of the dramas and comedies that have been sidelined. While scheduling holes are being filled primarily with reality programming, the networks also have quite a few episodes of midseason scripted series that are ready to go. Here are some highlights by network, as analyzed by Carat Programming:

ABC has yet to set its official midseason schedule, its new dance competition series Dance Wars will launch on Monday 1/12. Midseason series Cashmere Mafia (originally set to debut in late November), a truncated Lost and According to Jim are waiting in the wings. Also available, just in case, are fresh episodes of Wife Swap and Supernanny.

CBS's Drew Carey-hosted Power of Ten debuts on 1/2. The network will be airing its first midseason edition of Big Brother in mid-February. Also returning is the 16th edition of Survivor (2/12). On the scripted side, there are seven episodes of Jericho (premieres 2/12) and about eight episodes available for Old Christine. Both Christine and new comedy The Captain will launch on 1/28. CBS has made no mention of its plans for midseason drama Swingtown. If need be, CBS could also potentially draw upon premium cable sibling Showtime for scripted programming product.

NBC will rely heavily on reality product. A special celebrity edition of The Apprentice launches on 1/3. Game show 1 vs. 100 returns on 1/4 and a remake of syndicated series American Gladiators has its time period premiere on 1/7. Extra editions of Deal or No Deal will be added if necessary. Law & Order and the repurposed Law & Order C.I. will air on Wednesdays starting 1/2 and 1/9 respectively. Lipstick Jungle (from Candice Bushnell) debuts on 2/7. Although 24 has been postponed indefinitely, Fox is still best-equipped to weather the strike because its top-ranked American Idol returns for its seventh cycle in mid-January. New game show, Moment of Truth debuts on 1/23. New scripted series include Sara Connor Chronicles (Time period debut on 1/14), and an abbreviated season of New Amsterdam (debuts 2/22). Also set to launch at a later date are The Return of Jezebel James and Canterbury's Law. The network launched mother/daughter pageant series Crowned (December 12) and drama, One Tree Hill returns on 1/8.
| See the tentative January/February schedule here |

4.4B in political dollars in the pipe
The crystal ball used by Marci Ryvicker and her crew at Wachovia Capital Markets seems to be tuned to the same key as other analysts who see a four and a half billion smackaroonies headed for the 2008 political wars. An incumbent-free, high participation presidential election, another hotly contested battle for Congress and newly unleashed watchdog issue ad cash all figure to enrich the pot. Local television is expected to be the major beneficiary, knocking down 2.7B. That still leaves plenty for other media, and direct mail, internet and radio outlets are all expected to benefit. Radio, which took in 175M in the 2004 presidential year, is expected to add a cool 100M to 275M this time around. Wachovia expects 18 states to achieve battleground status in the presidential election. It lists nine states with potentially hot senate races, nine with potentially hot House races, and three possibly contentious gubernatorial races. (Some states figure on more than one list.) TVBR will shine a spotlight on various elements of the upcoming campaign season as the week progresses.

Wall Street Business Report TM
Hearst gobbling up more Hearst-Argyle shares
Hearst Corporation may have failed in its bid to buy out all other shareholders of Hearst-Argyle Television at 23.50 per share, so it's back to buying the company bit by bit. The directors of Hearst Corporation have now authorized the purchase of up to eight million shares in open-market and privately-negotiated purchases. If the entire purchase authorization is completed, Hearst Corporation would raise its stake in Hearst-Argyle from the current 74% to about 82%.

Ad Business Report TM

Whopper celebrates 50 years
Burger King's The Whopper is 50 years old. First off a hot broiler in 1957, the sandwich has become an iconic burger for the ages. From its humble beginnings in a Miami restaurant BK's signature sandwich has been immortalized in Madame Tussauds wax attraction in Times Square. BK will demonstrate the popularity of the Whopper in a series of television spots in the U.S. that force guests to imagine life without their beloved burger. The stunned and horrified reactions induced by "Whopper deprivation" result in subversive and highly amusing footage of real customers. BK will also launch Whopperfreakout.com, where visitors can view authentic outtakes of Whopper withdrawal from customers from the spots.

Media Business Report TM
Iraq beats out campaign for Q3 coverage
It has seemed almost impossible to avoid news of the presidential campaign, even back in the third quarter when the final vote was still over a year in the future away. Still, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism, the many facets of the Iraq saga eclipsed campaign coverage, with reporting on the policy debate claiming the top spot all on its own. When you add in other Iraq categories, the conflict accounted for 16.1% of the total newshole. It's not unusual for a disaster to make it on to one of PEJ's weekly coverage charts, but it has to be special to make it on to the quarterly. Such was the case for two such events, the bridge collapse in Minneapolis-St. Paul, #5 with 2.7% of the newshole, and the Utah mine collapse, at #10 with 1.8%. And the ongoing coverage of the travails of Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), which is still in the news after breaking in August, grabbed #8 with a 2% share.

Washington Business Report TM
12/3/07-12/7/07: Political Portal
The big event in Washington last week was the visit paid by all five FCC Commissioners to Ed Markey's Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, with Energy & Commerce Chairman John Dingell (D-MI) prominently in attendance. Dingell lectured FCC Chairman Kevin Martin on his bureau management style. Democrats in attendance generally objected to Martin's intention to eliminate the cross-ownership ban in the top 20 markets; Republicans, on the other hand, said that Martin's plan didn't go far enough, and both they and Andrew Levin of Clear Channel (who testified on a second panel) thought it was time once again to raise local ownership caps for radio.

* Meanwhile, the Senate Commerce Committee unanimously waved through a Byron Dorgan (D-ND)/Trent Lott (R-MS) measure which would bring Martin's plan to a at least a temporary months-long halt before it even comes up for a Portals vote (the Portals in SW Washington is the home of the FCC).

* Tribune, granted temporary waivers to keep broadcast and newspapers together in five markets pending resolution of the issue, sued in the DC Court of Appeals for either a better waiver or repeal of the cross-ownership ban in its entirety.

* A low volume exchange of words, mostly between engineers, is proceeding on the possible repurposing of TV Channel 6 (and perhaps 5 as well) for FM radio uses, including possible use for LPFM, elimination of grandfathered short-spacings, additional NCE station licenses and perhaps new commercial full-power licenses. As you might expect, in general radio engineers support the idea, while the MSTV has weighed in against it.

Blackburn tries to
reduce 70/70 to zero

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin already has pending legislation in the Senate which would slow down his plans to ease restrictions on cross-ownership of print and broadcast media properties in a single market. Now Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) has rounded up a small posse in the House to prevent Martin from adding to the regulatory burden of the cable industry. At issue is a provision of earlier legislation which allowed the FCC to reconsider cable regulation when the service achieves both 70% coverage of the US, and 70% penetration into the territory it covers. Citing data from Warren Publications, Martin declared recently that this threshold has been achieved, opening the possibility of adding things like a la carte channel menu options and other new rules. However, the numbers are in dispute, and even Warren noted that they are based on an annual directory survey, which does not typically receive full response from the industry surveyed. Some observers have claimed the 70% penetration number is impossible given the number of subscribers to satellite added with those who get no MVPD service of any type.

Townsend's bill would repeal the 70/70 rule and prevent the FCC from re-regulating even if the threshold has been achieved. American Cable Association President/CEO Matt Polka applauded the move, saying, "It serves no good to impose more rules and regulations on independent cable companies that are fiercely competing with two satellite TV operators, and provide advanced video, broadband and phone services to customers living in smaller markets and rural America." A small bipartisan list of co-sponsors includes Energy & Commerce Committee Ranking Member Joe Barton (R-TX), Edolphus Towns (D-NY) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC).

Entertainment Business Report TM
Peacock struts out early 2008 lineup
Despite the ongoing writers strike, NBC says its first-quarter primetime schedule is slated to deliver significantly more hours of original programming than was ever the case in the first quarter of 2007. The line-up features original scripted shows, along with reality programming and specials. The network will feature the return of "Medium" on Monday, January 7 (10-11 pm ET) plus new episodes of "ER," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "Friday Night Lights," "Las Vegas," "Scrubs" and the returns of "Law & Order" and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent." Also included will be the premiere of the previously announced new dramedy "Lipstick Jungle." In the reality genre, NBC announced the series premiere of "The Baby Borrowers" on Monday, February 18 (8-9 pm ET). It will join another previously announced new reality series, "American Gladiators," and the fresh season debuts of "The Biggest Loser," "The Celebrity Apprentice," "1 vs 100," as well as the continuing hit "Deal or No Deal," which returns to Mondays (9-10 pm ET) beginning January 7 in addition to its Wednesday edition (8-9 pm ET). Sunday specials include "The 65th Annual Golden Globes Awards" live on Sunday, January 13 (8-11 pm ET), "The Guinness Book of World Records - Live!" on Sunday, January 27 (9-11 pm ET) and "Top 100 Most Outrageous Moments" on Sunday, February 10 (9-11 pm ET).
| See the NBC schedule |

Internet Business Report TM
Looking at local online advertising
Borrell Associates has released a report taking a look at local online advertising expecting a 48% increase in local online ad spending in 2008, bringing it to 12.6 billion. Driving most of the growth is the popularity of local search and online video advertising. Local search advertising will more than double next year, to 5 billion, while locally placed online video will triple, to almost 1.3 billion. Key ad segments for 2008 will continue to be the "Big 3" classified categories of automotive, recruitment and real estate, with online political marketing holding promise for local sites as state and presidential campaigns heat up. The company generating the most local revenue from the Internet-Gannett, with more than 400 million in Internet ad revenues this year--saw its growth slip to 7.5% during the first nine months of 2007 even while the local online market grew at more than five times that rate. Idearc, which has trained its estimated 3,000 yellow pages reps to sell online products to the tune of nearly 300 million this year, has seen its Internet ad revenues increase 26%-well below this year's market growth rate of 48%. Convergence, or multi-platform sales, will continue to gain at least some traction for local media companies that are just launching those efforts.

Local broadcasters--radio and TV--have enjoyed 35% to 45% growth in Internet revenues this year, primarily by selling to their on-air advertisers. Borrell's 2008 projections contain a strong message from local advertisers. They are becoming less willing to purchase mass advertising on the Internet and are much more inclined to try paid search and video advertising formats. They are forecasting single-digit growth in local banner advertising next year. Borrell is also expecting very strong growth for the local online video segment in 2008, saying twice as much online video advertising will be placed locally as nationally. This is due to the fact that much of national video is in the form of 15-second "pre-roll" ads, while the majority of local video is longer-form "infomercial"-type advertising, which carries a higher price tag. Surprisingly, newspaper companies are at the forefront of online video sales. Many are up-selling print classified advertisers to online listings that contain 60-second video ads for jobs or homes for sale.

Ratings & Research
Patriots, Colts and Cowboys boost NFL ratings
Carat's Broadcast and Video Beat took a look at season to date NFL ratings through this past weekend as we head into the playoff stretch drive.NBC's Sunday Night Football ratings are down versus last year, despite a lift from week 12 matchup when the Philadelphia Eagles near upset of the New England Patriots gave NBC its second best SNF rating in its two year history. On Sunday afternoon, Fox is about even with last year. CBS has slightly better news, with its AFC telecasts buoyed by the aforementioned Patriots and Indianapolis Colts-they've helped give the network some of its best single game ratings in years. Of note, both CBS and FOX are above their rating levels from two years ago, quite a feat in this era of viewer fragmentation.

On cable, ESPN's household ratings are down from last year, when the network launched its unexpectedly strong Monday Night Football telecasts. An ESPN-record audience watched this week's New England/Baltimore game. They're still ahead of their numbers from two years ago when they telecast Sunday night games. The still-fledgling NFL Network scored a relatively huge rating for last Thursday's Cowboys/Packers game (they even beat the broadcast networks that night despite being carried in less than 40% of the US) and its two-telecast average is substantially better than last year.

TVBR note: You'll note from the accompanying chart that ratings for the key sports demographics of Men 18-49 and Adults 18-49 are holding up better than household ratings. Carat says they like to note these things because when demographic ratings don't hold up, the networks scream "sample error" at Nielsen. No screaming this year.
| View the numbers |

A big night for Univision
Ratings records were falling all over the place a week ago on Monday as Univision wrapped up the popular novela "Destilando Amor" (Essence of Love), a love story set against the backdrop of the Mexican tequila industry. The two-and-a-half hour finale reached an audience of 12.7 million on Monday night and powered the network to the nation's #1 ranking among all Adults 18-34 and 18-49, not just Hispanics, according to Nielsen's NTI Ratings. "Destilando Amor" was the #1 novela finale of all time the network said, averaging nine million total viewers 2+, 5.1 million Adults 18-49, and 3.1 million Adults 18-34. A special "Destilando Amor" edition of Univision's primetime program "El Show de Cristina" featuring the stars of the hit novela benefited from the tremendous lead-in to give the network its #1 ranking for the entire evening among virtually all key demographics. For the entire night (8-11 pm), the Univision Network ranked as:

* #1 among Adults 18-49 and Women 18-49
* #1 among Adults 18-34, Men 18-34, and Women 18-34
* #1 among Teens 12-17
* #3 among Total Viewers (Persons 2+)

Monday Morning Makers & Shakers

Transactions: 10/22/07-10/26/07
Yawn. Radio One sent a major market AM packing to Religious specialist Salem Communications. Otherwise, you might not know there was such a thing as station trading this week. Only five other transactions were filed with the FCC, with a total value of about 3.4M. No TV, either.



Total Deals







| Complete Charts |
Radio Transactions of the Week
From on niche to another
| More...
TV Transactions of the Week
No go yet again

6.8M WFLI-TV Chattanooga TN (Cleveland TN) from Meredith Corporation (Stephen M. Lacy, Paul Karpowicz) to MPS Media of Tennessee License LLC (Eugene Brown). 300K escrow, balance in cash at closing. Station is a CW affiliate on Ch. 53/DT 42. [File date 11/20/07.]

Stock Talk
Flat Friday to end the week
Wall Street ended an up and down week with hardly any movement on Friday. Continuing worries about credit countered any elation over falling oil prices. The Dow Industrials crept up six points to 13,626, but the Nasdaq Composite and S&P 500 were slightly lower.

TV stocks were mostly a bit higher. Hearst-Argyle rose 6.8% after Hearst Corporation filed with the SEC to buy up to eight million more shares. LIN fell 2.5% after announcing that it was no longer for sale.


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 2.76 +0.36

Saga Commun.




















Gen. Electric








Google GOOG











Time Warner




Gray, C1. A












Wash. Post




Journal Comm.









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Below the Fold

Media Markets & Money
Internet Business Report
Local online advertising Borrell Associates expecting a 48% increase in ad spending in 2008...

Washington Business Report
Political Portal: 12/3/07-12/7/07
The visit paid by all 5 Commissioners to Ed Markey's Subcommittee...

Entertainment Business Report
Peacock struts out
Early 2008 lineup, despite the ongoing writers strike...

Ratings & Research
Football, Football
Patriots, Colts and Cowboys boost NFL ratings - Men 18-49 & Adults 18-49 are holding up better...

Stations for Sale

Market your Stations For Sale
in our daily epapers.

Jim Carnegie
[email protected]

TV Station Auction

Philadelphia DMA
Full-Power Commercial Independent. Carried on nearly 2 million households

The auction of WTVE will take place at 9:30 AM EST on January 3, 2008 in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 900 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103.

Qualified bids are due on December 21, 2007. The minimum bid price is $12 million and a refundable deposit of $200,000 is due on that date. A copy of the Sale Motion, Bidding Procedures and/or Bidding Procedures Order may be obtained by written request:

J. Scott Victor
Senior Managing Director
(610) 940-5802
[email protected]

Michael J. Gorman, Associate
(610) 940-3615
[email protected]

Ryan C. Cole, Analyst
(610) 940-2619
[email protected]

More News Headlines

Roger King
dead at age 63

Syndicated television giant Roger King died suddenly over the weekend. CBS said King, who was 63, suffered a stroke Friday at his home in Florida and died at a hospital on Saturday. King was responsible for launching "Wheel of Fortune," "Oprah" and "Dr. Phil," among other programs. His family company, King World Productions, begun by his father in 1964, became a part of CBS in 2000. At the time of his death, King was CEO of CBS Television Distribution, the syndication arm of CBS Corporation.

Offering free
in-flight Wi-Fi

JetBlue, Yahoo Inc and Research in Motion (Blackberry maker) will offer free, in-flight, Wi-Fi web connections for laptops and PDAs. The service will allow passengers to access customized Yahoo mail and Yahoo IM services on their laptops or to access corporate e-mails on Wi-Fi enabled versions of the Blackberry from RIM. The first JetBlue flight offering the service will be tomorrow. The FCC's recent auction of air-to-ground communication links made the service possible. JetBlue's WiFi will be offered on select coast-to-coast flights including between Boston and San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle.

Name game at EchoStar
EchoStar Communications Corporation is better known to most consumers by the brand name of its satellite TV service, Dish Network. And now, the company is dropping the EchoStar name altogether. Once some legal formalities are taken care of, the company will be officially known as Dish Network Corporation. But EchoStar isn't dying. The company's broadcast satellite receiver, antennae and commercial satellite lines of business and assets are being spun off into a new company to be called EchoStar Holding Company, which, after becoming independent, will take the name EchoStar Communications Corporation (sound familiar?). No special shareholders meeting is needed to approve this split and renaming, since Charlie and Cantey Ergen have approved it already and they hold overwhelming voting control of the company.

Tapping a new host
Farmers' Almanac TV announced that urban gardening expert Patti Moreno will serve as the new host to kick off the third season scheduled for April. The magazine-style series airs on nearly 90% of the nation's public television stations including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas and Philadelphia. Patti Moreno, also known as 'Garden Girl,' specializes in modular gardens for urban environments. With consumers' increasing awareness of 'green' topics and sustainable living, Boston-based Patti Moreno can offer consumers insight on her gardening system that can be used to grow food on fire escapes, rooftops and indoors. In addition, Patti also will be featured on farmersalmanac.com.

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

WGA Strike Central, Day 33
Woody Allen gets in on WGA "Speechless" effort
The 20th WGA-conceived Internet video for Project "Speechless" featuring top Screen Actors Guild talent was produced and "written" (tongue in cheek) by none other than Woody Allen. Also, WGA also talking about reality TV shows

TVBR observation: This is obviously a "cover all your bases" move at the last minute from WGA, as they realize more and more the networks and studios are gearing up for a midseason of reality shows. Just one example-in speaking with Dennis Miller yesterday for an upcoming interview we'll be running, he's got eight episodes already in the can for February with his new NBC game show: "Amnesia" (He calls it "Jeopardy meets "This is Your Life"). Bottom line, reality TV sometimes really brings in the ratings. It's unlikely this negotiation fodder will get any traction whatsoever with AMPTP, as it is their trump card.
12/07/07 TVBR #238

Tribune challenges
FCC waiver grant
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and the two other Republicans outvoted two Democratic commissioners, granting Tribune Company cross-ownership waivers of two years extendible to six months after all pending cross-ownership legal matters are resolved on 11/30/07. Tribune has turned around and appealed that decision, requesting either better waivers - either "permanent or more appropriate temporary waivers" - or the repeal of the rules in their entirety on Constitutional grounds.

TVBR observation: So let us see if we have here: The Third Circuit remanded the cross-ownership rules as proposed by Michael Powell's FCC in 2003 for revision or better justification. Current Chairman Kevin Martin put forth a more modest deregulation plan than did Powell, encouraged by the Third Circuit's verging-on-kind words about cross-ownership. Martin is naturally being attacked on both sides, for going too far or not going far enough. Martin wants to bring his proposal up for a vote in a little over a week, on 12/18/07. The Senate Commerce Committee, behind Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Trent Lott (R-MS), say no way and have gotten braking legislation out of committee but not yet onto the floor for full body consideration. Tribune is now bringing a different circuit court into the mix. Three of the most popular words in the Washington legal lexicon, "arbitrary and capricioust" have once again been uttered. In short, it is looking more and more like our grandchildren will be the ones writing up the final result of this proceeding.
12/07/07 TVBR #238

WGA Strike Central, Day 32
Issues analysis of AMPTP offer
As day seven of renewed talks between WGA and AMPTP drag on this Thursday, WGA Chair/Negotiating Committee John Bowman sent an email to members on 12/4, addressing many of the rumors and misinformation out there regarding the strike. See details in TVBR
12/06/07 TVBR #237

Eight is not enough
Clear Channel EVP/Chief Legal Officer Andrew Levin told the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet that the decision to loosen local radio ownership caps in 1996 was an industry-saving maneuver, and now it's time to do it again. He'd like to see the cap upped to 12 stations in the largest markets. Two panelists representing companies with television interests, Sidney Bliss of Bliss Communications and Jerald N. Fritz of Allbritton Communications, called for loosening the cross-ownership restrictions. Fritz in particular noted that his company was forced to separate WJLA-TV and the Washington Star in Washington DC, The total issues in TVBR as it is your business.
12/06/07 TVBR #237

Advisory Council backs PPM,
but wants it fixed
Arbitron has agreed to tighten its money-back guarantee for its Portable People Meter (PPM) sample, moving to an 80% guarantee for the 18-54 target, rather than the previously announced guarantee of 90% of the 6+ target. In the conference call with reporters, a first for the RAC (which is usually less formal), DuCoty stressed that the RAC still supports the continued rollout of PPM while Arbitron works on winning Media Rating Council (MRC) accreditation. And he said the RAC "is supportive of the Philadelphia and Houston PPM measurement currently in the market" and has been assured by Arbitron that the ratings company will work to address concerns about sample performance and accreditation in those markets.

RBR observation: The RAC and Arbitron's biggest station group clients are clearly holding the company's feet to the fire. Although there have been lots of complaints and concerns about PPM, the bottom line is that the radio companies have a lot of revenues at stake and they want PPM to work. They want Arbitron to deliver what was promised, but they also know that electronic measurement is vital to radio's future. This week's meetings may have been heated, but the March 2008 RAC meeting in Orlando will be even more heated if substantial progress isn't made by that time.
12/06/07 RBR #237

WGA Strike Central, Day 31
WGA-AMPTP talks resume
As talks were still back on track, Patric Verrone, head of the WGA West called on producers earlier this week to break ranks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, who he said is allowing "hard-liners" to obstruct negotiations. CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves told the UBS Media Conference in New York that he was not expecting a quick resolution of the writers strike.
12/05/07 TVBR #236

Belo not in market for more newspapers; TV improving
Belo may be splitting into separate newspaper and TV companies, but don't worry about the FCC's crossownership rule coming into play. At the UBS conference in New York, current Belo CEO Robert Decherd assured analysts and investors that AH Belo Corp., which he will head, has no plans to buy any additional newspapers.

TVBR observation: Why, you may ask, does the TV side end up with all of the company debt? One of the UBS attendees also wanted to know. Decherd explained that it would have "cost us a fortune" to refinance the existing company debt, so it all stays with Belo Corporation, while the newspaper side is spun off into the new AH Belo Corporation. The spin-off mechanism also maintained the grandfathered status of the company's TV and daily newspaper crossownership in Dallas, since the shareholders on day one of the split will be identical to those of the day before.
12/05/07 TVBR #236

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