Welcome to TVBR's Daily Epaper
Volume 24, Issue 250, Jim Carnegie, Editor & Publisher
Friday Morning December 28th, 2007

TVBR returns Thursday, January 3, 2008

The offices of RBR/TVBR will be closed Saturday, December 29 through Wednesday, January 2 so that our employees may enjoy the New Year festivities with their families.

WGA Strike Central: Day 54
AMPTP pens open letter to the industry
Seems with strike negotiations at an impasse (dead), the WGA and AMPTP have taken to more open letters to each other and the entertainment industry as a whole. Just before Christmas, the AMPTP's website hosted an open letter signed by studio and network execs with the tagline, "Different Assets...Different Businesses...Different Companies...One Common Goal...To Reach A Fair and Just Agreement With Writers And Get Back To Work." The co-signers included Peter Chernin, Fox Group CEO; Brad Grey, Paramount Pictures CEO; Bob Iger, Disney CEO; Michael Lynton, Sony Pictures CEO; Barry Meyer, Warner Bros. CEO; Leslie Moonves, CBS CEO; Harry Sloan, MGM CEO and Jeff Zucker, NBCU CEO.

The letter includes the following: "In short, our report to you on the State of the Strike is really very simple: The WGA's insistence on these jurisdictional and other unrealistic demands is preventing us from reaching a deal that is fair and reasonable to both sides. And nothing in the WGA's new grab-bag of tactics - a hodgepodge of continued street demonstrations, baseless NLRB complaints, and ephemeral interim agreements with individual companies - is going to change this situation. Until those in charge at the WGA decide to focus on the core financial issues that working writers care most about, instead of the unreasonable jurisdictional demands that only people who run unions care about, we do not see that there is any basis for reaching an agreement."
| Read it in full here |

TVBR observation: The two sides need to get back to the table as soon as the New Year begins and get this resolved. Our suggestion: The WGA picks two folks who they want to do business with on the AMPTP side and vice-versa. Focus on only the most important original core issues to get the contracts signed. Start with meeting each other half-way on the numbers. The other issues can be negotiated six months later, as part of the new contract wording. Get the big issues solved and get these folks back to work. We're in danger of messing up an entire industry here and ruining hundreds and hundreds of careers. Time is now ticking more quickly than ever. So bottom line: Get new negotiators. Have them meet at a resort hotel somewhere over a long weekend out of town-i.e. The Gainey Ranch Resort in Scottsdale-and don't forget the Blackberry chargers. Eat all meals together, negotiate the rest of the time. Go golfing there if it helps, but set a deadline-arrive Friday morning, contracts signed by 10PM Sunday. Something different...Anything.

Striking Writers with pilots pending
write letter to AMPTP

On Christmas Eve, a letter signed by 127 striking writers with pilots pending was emailed to CEOs and almost 200 studio and network TV development execs of the AMPTP. The letter was acquired by LA Weekly: "These execs are our partners in these projects so we wanted to reach out in an effort to get the AMPTP back to the table while there is still a chance of getting pilot season back on track. We did our best to contact all the writers with pilots, but some were out of town or out of reach, so this does not represent ALL the writers with pilots -- only those we were able to reach who agreed to be included. This was done with the blessing and support of the WGA, but not through the WGA."

Dear (studio/network exec),

'Tis the season. Pilot season. We, the pilot writers, feel the loss of our ongoing creative partnership, and in the spirit of the holidays, we wanted to offer our help in getting the '08-'09 crop of television shows back on track. We're willing to write silent night after silent night to make up for lost time if your company will only finalize a fair deal with the WGA. To do that, talks must resume. Our guild is ready and eager. We feel that what our guild is asking is more than reasonable, and we believe that you, as our partner in these new shows, know our value and know that what we are asking is not excessive.

We love our new projects. We want to create great television which would put everyone back to work and ensure prosperity for all. We know we would all like to start the new year getting back to doing what we love. If there is any way you can facilitate this process, we would be eternally grateful.

Sincerely,
[ 127 names listed in the LA Weekly posting ]


TV News ®

Now the big game is everywhere
Bending to intense Congressional pressure, the NFL has agreed to but Saturday's New England Patriots vs. New York Giants game on both CBS and NBC (12/27/07 TVBR #249), rather than going with the original plan to have the national telecast only on its fledgling NFL Network. Now, though, the "exclusive" hometown rights sold to stations in Boston and New York aren't so exclusive. And, as it happens, neither station which had contracted with the NFL Network for the local broadcast rights is an affiliate of either CBS or NBC, so the game is currently scheduled to air on three competing stations in each of the two markets.

In Boston, it is Hearst-Argyle's WCVB-TV (Ch. 5, ABC), which had long-ago signed with the NFL Network for the right to air the high-profile game. Hearst-Argyle will also broadcast it on WMUR-TV (Ch. 9, ABC) Manchester, NH, which is also part of the Boston DMA. But now, after selling out its advertising inventory to advertisers hot to be on the only place where home market Patriots fans will be able to see the game on broadcast TV, the game is suddenly scheduled to be carried on two other Boston stations, WBZ-TV (Ch. 4, CBS O&O) and WHDH-TV (Ch. 7, NBC).

In New York it is News Corporation-owned WWOR-TV (Ch. 9, MyNetworkTV) which is now facing unexpected duplication from the network O&Os, WNBC-TV (Ch. 4) and WCBS-TV (Ch. 2). The station insists that the arrangement violates the contract is has in place with the NFL to be the only place in the New York DMA to see the broadcast over the air. "We fully expect the League to honor their commitment to My9 as the exclusive free over the air broadcaster for Saturday's telecast of the New England Patriots at New York Giants game," the station said in a statement. It doesn't look like that is going to happen, so look for the lawyers to get involved.

TVBR observation: The lesson for the NFL owners is that running to Capitol Hill with a business dispute can sometimes backfire. The NFL Network tried to get New England politicians, in particular, fired up to pressure cable companies in the region to sign up to put their fledgling network on their systems - and for Comcast to move it from a sports tier to basic, thereby making it available to more subscribers (and, just by an amazing coincidence, generating much greater subscriber fee payments for the NFL Network). What actually happened was that the politicians got mad at everyone involved - the NFL Network as well as the cable operators. So, the NFL owners, who own the NFL Network, made new enemies in the US Congress, some of whom threatened to reopen the league's antitrust exemption if the owners persisted in keeping one of the biggest football games of the year only on their low-penetration start-up network. The NFL owners thought they had a sure-fire way to bring the cable MSOs to their knees by holding back eight games this season to be shown only on the NFL Network. Instead they've foregone the cash that selling those games to a broadcast network would have brought in, they've generated lots of bad PR for themselves, they've made new enemies of powerful politicians of both parties - and they are stuck with a start-up cable network that the major MSOs are still refusing to pay for.

Free satellite feeds of New Years Eve
celebration available

The Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment will again offer free satellite feeds of the New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square, New York. The feeds will be made available free of charge to domestic and international television outlets, in addition to mobile phone TV providers, IPTV, vlogs and user generated content sites. In addition to live New Year's Eve feeds, a B-Roll package feed today will feature a special behind-the-scenes look at the making of Times Square New Year's Eve, featuring the arrival and installation of the "2008" sign at the top of One Times Square; and the assembly and testing of the new LED Crystal New Year's Eve Ball, celebrating its 100th birthday this year; and other preparations for the festivities. The feeds will be provided free of charge to cable operators and networks on a non-exclusive basis solely for use in creating television programming relating to the event.


Another pol wants to keep
XM/Sirius separate

Paul C. Broun (R-GA), pictured, has joined the ranks of Capitol Hill legislators who see that there is no basis for allowing the merger into monopoly between XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio. He recently fired off a letter to three relevant bureaucrats on the matter. Included among the addressees were AG Michael B. Mukasey, FTC Chair Deborah Platt Majoras and FCC Chair Kevin Martin. Noting that the FCC chartered two competing services at the outset, Broun wrote, "The FCC decision has resulted in robust competition and expanded choice for the American consumer, all of which would be undermined by a merger of Sirius and XM. Without the presence of a similarly situated, direct competitor, a united Sirius/XM would be free to raise consumer prices, unchecked in the marketplace. The FCC has never before allowed the only two competitors in a given market to combine. Present circumstances do not warrant the FCC's complete reversal of its conclusions in the satellite licensing decision, or the consumer benefits and protections that have resulted from that decision. Please maintain the market competition that is analogous to the competition in the satellite television arena."

TVBR observation: You would think that the FCC would have enough institutional memory of its reasoning in preventing the proposed DISH Network/DirecTV merger under former Chair Michael Powell to see that this is almost exactly the same thing. We would further remind the Commission that while we see many people at our local gym plugged into various audio devices, we have yet to see a single person wearing a satellite dish on their head. Despite the argument that the DARs companies are but a small little corner of a vast audio marketplace, an iPod is no replacement for a satellite radio subscription, nor does satellite radio replace an iPod. Ideally, satellite and terrestrial radio programmers help inform our choice of music to acquire FOR our iPod. The anti-monopoly arguments against this merger seem so straight-forward it is amazing that the proposal to completely overturn the founding charters of these companies is even getting serious consideration.

Martin defends new rules
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is sticking by his assertion that the easing of cross-ownership restrictions in the top 20 Nielsen DMAs is a modest update of the rules and that the floodgates are not open to a new wave of dealmaking regardless of market size. Martin has asserted that cross-ownership dereg from the 2003 ownership rulemaking was almost endorsed by the court that sent most of the package back for reconsideration. The court remand could have been read as an invitation to open the entire US open to cross-owned combinations, asking only that the justification for such a rulemaking, and the cap limits attached to it for print, television and radio properties, be better justified. The court did not instruct the FCC as to whether the rule should be tightened, loosened or left alone. The toxic nature of the ownership dispute in general has been very much in evidence, as interested observers have criticized Martin for both going too far and not going far enough.

The decision to give regulatory blessing to a number of combinations already in existence has drawn widespread fire. Martin said in a press conference before the 12/18/07 FCC meeting that he assumed if the combinations were deemed in the public interest under a blanket prohibition policy, they should still be OK in a slightly relaxed regulatory environment. Still, they were added to the rulemaking at the last minute, which if nothing else may have presented the appearance of trying to slip them through. The remaining concerns are about the ease of getting waivers for smaller-market combinations. Martin continued to insist that there is a high bar standing in the way of such combinations, including three years of negative financial results and long-standing lack of ratings success, coupled to a requirement that news operations be increased by the new owner. Others fear that if the loopholes are there, they'll be used.

TVBR observation: It's hard to argue against the loopholes are made to be used argument as the XM/Sirius merger situation moves forward. There are no other satellite audio services in existence and numerous antitrust experts have argued against the merger before Congress and elsewhere. Add that to the fact that their merger into one company was prohibited by the FCC at their birth, you'd have to assume that the current proposal would have no traction whatsoever. The fact that it's getting serious consideration would appear to lend credence to the phrase "anything goes."


Wall Street Business Report TM
Credit crunch claims another victim
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the tight credit markets have at least postponed an attempt by the Hoiles family to buy out their private equity partners in Freedom Communications. The privately held company owns eight TV stations and several dozen daily and weekly newspapers. Blackstone Group and Providence Equity Partners backed one contingent of the Hoiles family in 2003 to buy out their cousins, rather than let the company be sold off entirely. The WSJ report says the family-controlled company had planned to borrow over a half billion bucks from GE Capital to fund a buyout of the two private equity firms, who had invested about 450 million in the '03 restructuring. The hush-hush deal would not have required any FCC filing until right at closing, since it would not have created a change of control, with the 55% owners, the Hoiles, acquiring the remaining 45%. But now, don't look for that to happen soon, since the borrowing will have to wait until the credit markets improve.


Ad Business Report TM

Ron Paul unveils new TV ad: "Defender of Freedom"
Republican presidential candidate and Texas Congressman Ron Paul has released a new television ad - titled "Defender of Freedom" - that will run in Iowa and New Hampshire. "Congressman Paul has an unmatched record of defending the rights of Americans," said Ron Paul 2008 campaign chairman Kent Snyder. "This advertisement is about bringing Dr. Paul's message of freedom, peace and prosperity to potential voters. The more people know about Dr. Paul, the more support he gains."
| The ad can be viewed here |

A transcript of the 30 second ad:
Narrator: "He defends our freedom, and his record shows it... Ron Paul.

"Answering our country's call, Ron Paul became a flight surgeon in the Air Force. As a doctor, Ron Paul delivered over 4,000 babies and is a leading defender of life. In Congress, Ron Paul never voted to raise taxes, never voted for an unbalanced budget, never voted to restrict gun rights or raise congressional pay. Protecting our God-given freedom... Ron Paul for President."

Congressman Paul: "I'm Ron Paul and I approve this message."


Washington Business Report TM
Deans call on FCC to focus
on newsgathering

A group of deans from prominent journalism colleges have taken to the OpEd pages of the New York Times, urging the FCC to keep local newsgathering first and foremost in mind when considering rule changes and license renewals. They noted that journalists have largely stayed out of the media ownership debate unless it bumps up against their own focus on First Amendment rights, but they cannot now help noticing the parallel trends of increased consolidation and decreasing newsgathering activity. They find FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's argument that allowing crossownership in the top 20 markets is necessary to allow newspapers to continue paying their own newsgathering staffs. They said it is important that broadcasters do their own work in this area rather than become a support staff for print media. They further wonder, if this is true and important, why Martin is denying journalists in smaller markets to benefit from these rules. They argue that the Internet, while great for distribution of news and dissemination of opinion, has not as yet come close to spawning full-fledged newsgathering operations to match those operated by traditional media. They also called for a renewed focus on local newsgathering when considering license renewals. Even though it was easy to earn a passing grade back in the days when broadcasters had to vigorously defend their stewardship of their license, the deans argue that it was still important and much preferable to the current so-called "postcard renewal" regime.

The authors of "A License for Local Reporting" from the 12/22/07 edition of the New York Times included Roderick P. Hart, dean of the University of Texas journalism school; Alex S. Jones, director of Harvard's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy; Thomas Kunkel, dean of the University of Maryland journalism school; Nicholas Lemann, dean of the Columbia Journalism School; John Levine, dean of the Northwestern journalism school; Dean Mills, dean of the University of Missouri journalism school; David M. Rubin, dean of the Syracuse school of public communications; and Ernest Wilson, dean of the University of Southern California school of communication.


Internet Business Report TM
Randy Michaels to conduct
"Internet experiments"
with Trib properties

Randy Michaels, a longtime Sam Zell associate who is now Tribune's EVP and CEO of Interactive and Broadcasting, said in a recent Chicago Tribune story that the Baltimore Sun, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, Hartford Courant, Morning Call in Allentown, PA and Daily Press of Newport News, VA, will serve as a lab of sorts for Internet experiments. "There are some pretty obvious and unexploited opportunities," Michaels said. "I think blurting it out in the paper is probably not the right competitive idea, but I will say this: It's a little bit embarrassing that all media companies have made their Web sites and their Web efforts look too much like their traditional business."


Ratings & Research
NBC wins 18-49 crown
Yep, you read that right. The Peacock has reason to strut. Powered by "Sunday Night Football," which was the #1 program in total viewership and #2 in Household ratings, NBC claimed top spot for the past week in the key 18-49 demo and finished second in HH. "CSI: Miami" on CBS topped the HH ratings for the week and the Eye net had eight of the top 10 shows. For HH, CBS averaged a 5.6 rating and 10 share, followed by NBC 4.9/8, ABC 3.8/7, Fox 3.5/6, Univision 1.6/3, CW 1.3/2, MyNetworkTV 0.8/1, Telemundo 0.6/1, Ion 0.4/1, TeleFutura 0.3/1 and Azteca America 0.1/0. In the 18-49 demo, NBC was followed by CBS, Fox, ABC, Univision, CW, a tie by Telemundo and MyNetworkTV, TeleFutura and a tie by Azteca America and Ion.
| Here are the top 20 shows for the past week |

Retailers expected to bag 60 billion in sales in the next week
Retailers shouldn't write off the 2007 holiday shopping season just yet. Consumers are set to bag 60 billion worth of merchandise over the next seven days, experts say. Much of that spending -- nearly half -- is expected to come when consumers cash in gift cards. Michael McNamara, vice president of research and analysis for MasterCard Advisors, expects that retailers will ring up as much as 17% of their December sales in the last week of the month. That translates to about 60 billion in holiday-related purchases or roughly 12.6% of 474.5 billion that the National Retail Federation expects consumers will spend on holiday-related shopping. MasterCard Advisors did not break out how much of the 60 billion will be spent using gift cards. A survey conducted by the retail federation in November estimated that gift card-related sales this holiday season could reach 26.3 billion. Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst with NPD Group, estimates that more than 60% of holiday shoppers bought gift cards. Gift cards are especially critical this year because the retail federation expects holiday sales in November and December to grow 4% over last year - or their slowest pace of growth since 2002.

Consumer confidence gains in December
U.S. consumer confidence rose in December due to an increase in short-term expectations, though consumers "remain far from optimistic," the Conference Board reported Thursday. The consumer confidence index rose to 88.6 from a revised reading of 87.8 in November. The initial estimate for November was 87.3. December's confidence reading is below last year's level of 110.0, as consumers have been concerned about higher energy prices and falling home prices. Those expecting business conditions to improve in the next six months increased to 13.8% from 12.4%. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead rose to 11.2% from 10.6%.


Stock Talk
Pakistan killing roils world financial markets
The assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto created turmoil in financial markets around the globe. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 192 points, or 1.4%, to 13,360.

TV stocks were not spared. Fisher took the biggest hit, falling 7.4%. LIN dropped 7.2%.


Stocks

Here's how stocks fared on Thursday

Company Symbol Close Change Company Symbol Close Change

Acme

ACME

2.36

+0.06

Lincoln Natl.

LNC

57.60

-0.79

Belo

BLC

17.75

-0.26

LIN TV

TVL

12.22

-0.95

CBS CI. B CBS

26.95

+0.08

McGraw-Hill

MHP

44.41

-0.97

CBS CI. A CBSa

36.99

+0.08

Media General

MEG

20.79

-1.09

Clear Channel

CCU

34.59

-0.32

Meredith

MDP

55.28

-0.84

Disney

DIS

32.43

-0.39

News Corp.

NWS

21.50

-0.32

Emmis

EMMS

3.76

-0.24

Nexstar

NXST

8.87

-0.25

Entravision

EVC

7.96

-0.45

Ion Media

ION

1.31

-0.01

Equity Media EMDA 3.25 +0.20

Saga Commun.

SGA

5.90

unch

Fisher

FSCI

37.03

-2.95

SBS

SBSA

1.95

-0.11

Gannett

GCI

38.51

-0.29

Scripps

SSP

44.32

-0.24

Gen. Electric

GE

37.19

-0.36

Sinclair

SBGI

8.47

-0.26

Google GOOG

700.74

-10.10

SWMX

SWMX

0.00

unch

Gray

GTN

8.50

-0.55

Time Warner

TWX

16.67

-0.23

Gray, C1. A

GTNa

8.68

-0.46

Wash. Post

WPO

799.96

-0.03

Hearst-Argyle

HTV

21.90

-0.28

Young

YBTVA

1.00

-0.11

Journal Comm.

JRN

9.08

-0.04

-

-

-

-

-


Bounceback

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Below the Fold

Ad Business Report
Ron Paul unveils new
TV ad: "Defender of Freedom"...

Washington Business Report
Deans call on FCC
To focus on newsgathering, finding FCC Chairman Martin's argument...

Ratings & Research
NBC wins 18-49 crown
Yep, you read that right. The Peacock has reason to strut...

Retailers expected to bag
60 billion in sales in the next wk...


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More News Headlines

Sheraton starts "worldwide pillow fight"
The feathers are flying as Sheraton Hotels & Resorts starts a worldwide pillow fight through the use of unique online technology showcased at a new interactive website, Sheratonplay.com. The site invites visitors to pick up a pillow and join a live virtual pillow fight, while simultaneously enabling them to book reservations or search travel options. While being showcased at Sheratonplay.com, the pillow fight technology will also run live on rich media banners across a range of websites where Sheraton advertises, inviting users to engage in the game -- live with other users across the web -- without ever leaving the site. When online at a participating website, users roll over a rich media banner from Sheraton at the top of the page to engage in the pillow fight. Multiple users, from anywhere in the world, can play against each other without ever leaving the web page they are viewing. Various web sites, including NFL.com, AOL Travel, Trip Advisor and Frommer's, will offer the rich media banner, and will be translated into multiple languages to reflect Sheraton's global presence. Sheratonplay.com was developed by Sheraton's online AOR Avenue A| Razorfish in conjunction with the rich media vendor Eyeblaster.


RBR - Radio News

Small network eschews anti-airplay musicians
Have the first shots been fired in the brewing battle between radio and labels over performance royalties/fees? A small, three station North Carolina group called Christian Listening Network, "[i]n sympathetic response to the cries of the Music First Coalition that radio airplay has hurt rather than helped musical performers," is making sure that all MFC members are kept off of its airwaves.

"Our Music Directors are diligent in selecting the best songs week after week," said CLN GM Dan DeBruler. He added, "It is illegal for US radio stations to accept direct compensation in any form in exchange for airplay. We play and promote the best songs and artists, then watch as they climb the charts. The result is increased record sales and improved ticket sales at live performances. If performing artists believe uncompensated airplay is hurting them to the extent they need legislation to stop it, we'll save them the trouble."

The MDs at WCLN-FM, WGQR-FM & WBLA-AM have been instructed to keep in touch with music reps in the event the "Performance Rights Act" is adopted and "negotiate individual fees with the artists whose music we play to ensure fair compensation."

RBR observation: This battle has essentially a cash grab by labels trying to find any possible income stream as their tattered business model continues to leak. They've been hiding behind musicians -- notably, most of the artists they've sent to Capitol Hill are not frequently heard on the air these days -- are Judy Collins, Sam Moore, Lyle Lovett or Alice Peacock on your current playlist? -- and they wouldn't stand to gain much from the Act. It will be interesting to see if the CLN is an isolated event or a harbinger of things to come.


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

WGA Strike Central, Day 53
Writers initiate separate talks
With no talks scheduled with Hollywood's major studios, the WGA has begun negotiating with several small independent television and movie production companies on new employment agreements.

TVBR note: Complete details to date on day 53 of WGA Strike in TVBR.
12/27/07 TVBR #249

The year of yearning to go private
It seems most CEOs of publicly traded broadcasting companies wished in their hearts to leave Wall Street and go private in 2007. Of those who actually tried, not all succeeded. The biggest, of course, closed just last week, as Sam Zell. Analysis of Ion Media Networks Nexstar and LIN see TVBR
12/27/07 TVBR #249

NBC, CBS to simulcast
Patriots-Giants game
The NFL has arranged an unprecedented three-way national simulcast of the NFL Network telecast of Saturday night's New England Patriots-New York Giants game when the Patriots will try to become the first NFL team to go 16-0 in a regular season.

TVBR observation: The NFL is hardly acting out of the kindness of its heart. It was under heavy political pressure in Washington for planning to broadcast this high profile game exclusively on its own NFL Network, which most of the major MSOs have refused to carry on their basic cable tiers -- or at all, in many cases. When key Members of Congress threatened to re-examine the NFL's antitrust exemption, the league's attempt to keep the pressure on the cable companies began to crumble.
12/27/07 TVBR #249

More gloom and doom
about November
By the end of next week, we may see the RAB figures for November radio revenues, but Bank of America analyst Jonathan Jacoby is pretty pessimistic about what the numbers will show. Jacoby has been checking with large market sources and found that their revenues were down about 7%, much worse than the 3% decline he had anticipated. Those big markets account for about 35% of all radio billings.

RBR observation: This is shaping up to finish a year best forgotten as one that is just getting worse. CL King analyst Jim Boyle has also said that November is likely to be down 4-5% (12/20/07 RBR #247). There appears to be no way for Santa to deliver a December that will produce a positive number for the whole year. The big worry now is whether there is anything on the horizon to keep 2008 from being more of the same. Political will help, but a real improvement in the general advertising climate is what is needed.
12/27/07 RBR #249

WGA Strike Central, Day 47
Latest programming updates for midseason
Carat Programming's Broadcast and Video Beat reports in the spirit of its corporate "green" initiative, NBC will be recycling used programming content from cable sibling, USA. Complete update in TVBR
12/21/07 TVBR #248

The Zell era begins at Tribune
The electronic transfer of 4.2 billion bucks borrowed from a team of banks took place and Tribune Company became a private company, owned by Sam Zell and an ESOP. Tribune Broadcasting staffers, meet your new boss. This classic photo in TVBR of Randy Michaels was taken during the Jacor era, when Randy sought to enliven an NAB Radio Show panel discussion by hosing down the audience and showing off his patriotic red, white and blue boxer shorts.

TVBR note: Well get strapped in and hold on and hope we go for a ride of creative juices again to flow back in our media.
12/21/07 TVBR #248

WGA Strike Central, Day 46
Networks looking at other
options for new series
With WGA-AMPTP negotiations at a standstill, the impact is now extending to the 2008-09 season, beginning with the Q1 pilot season where networks fund single episode ideas for potential series. According to an AP story, it's a process that may have had its day, say two execs at a major network, speaking off-record. Pilots are more expensive than ever to produce, reaching 6 million or more for complex action dramas. This year's results were unimpressive, with a number of anticipated new series.

TVBR note: When this strike ends the way business was conducted is over and the content will change to cheaper programming. Businesses do not recoup a loss like this. So local TV best get your acts together and start thinking local, programming content and not depending on the networks.
12/20/07 TVBR #247

WGA Strike Central, Day 45
Writers in talks to
launch web start-ups
A group of striking writers are working on plans to produce programming for the Internet independent of Hollywood studios/AMPTP. They're turning to venture capitalists, looking to circumvent Hollywood and reach viewers directly online. Also Directors to share negotiation data with WGA - WGA rejects waiver requests for Golden Globes, Oscars.
12/19/07 TVBR #246

FCC and Martin
rumble in the Jungle
Everything hit the fan and the mediums are in a spin. FCC approves top-20 crossownership as FCC Chairman Kevin Martin got his 3-2 party-line vote to eliminate the crossownership ban in the top 20 Nielsen DMAs. A newspaper owner will be allowed to own a television station outside the market's top four, or a radio station, as long as eight independent voices remain and as long as the cross-owned entities maintain separate news operations. Plus, the Commission moved to impose localism requirements on television stations, requiring submission of a standardized form quarterly detailing various elements of local programming. It is now looking at extending these requirements to radio. Also they FCC moved to increase minority/female ownership.

TVBR observation: Now we wait to see how long it will take for a legislative response, and how loud it will be. Elsewhere, the volume knob is already turning up toward the maximum level. Meanwhile, broadcasters are steamed about the potential imposition of new and onerous regulation and the Newspaper Association of America is already complaining about the restrictive nature of the loosened rule. TVBR outlines complete reports in this issue. It is a jungle inside the beltway.
12/19/07 TVBR #246

Performance Royalty bill
introduced in Congress
The long-threatened bill to force radio stations to pay royalties to record companies was introduced yesterday in both the House and the Senate. The "Performance Rights Act of 2007" was introduced in Senate. See the complete report in RBR.

RBR observation: Berman is right about one thing, and only one, from his speech - there should be parity for AM, FM and Internet radio. To that end, Congress should revise the digital copyright law - which, after all, was supposed to be about digital downloads, not streaming - and stop RIAA from making Internet radio operators pay for the privilege of helping the record labels sell records.
12/19/07 RBR #246

WGA Strike Central, Day 44
Leno and Conan to return
January 2nd
After two months of repeats, "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" will resume broadcasting all-new episodes beginning Wednesday, January 2, 2008.
12/18/07 TVBR #245


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