Welcome to TVBR's Daily Epaper
Volume 25, Issue 3, Jim Carnegie, Editor & Publisher
Monday Morning January 7th, 2008
WGA Strike Central: Day 64
WGA, NBC at odds
over Leno's monologues

Jay Leno kept the jokes-his own jokes-rolling his second night back on the air, even as the striking WGA writers and NBC sparred over whether he was violating union rules by writing his monologues. "The WGA agreement permits Jay Leno to write his own monologue for `The Tonight Show,'" NBC said in a statement. "The WGA is not permitted to implement rules that conflict with the terms of the collective bargaining agreement between the studios and the WGA." The agreement between the WGA and AMPTP expired, but its terms remain in effect, Andrea Hartman, EVP/deputy general counsel for NBCU told The AP. "Material written by the person who delivers it on the air" is exempted from the contract. The exception applies to shows outside prime-time, which includes "The Tonight Show." WGA argued that it's on firm ground in the context of either its "strike rules" or the expired contract. "Our position is that our strike rules don't conflict here and, because he's (Leno) always been employed as a writer" on the show, the contract exception doesn't apply to him, guild spokesman Neal Sacharow was quoted as saying. Sacharow declined comment on whether the guild would move against Leno. But he said any violation of strike rules would be brought before a union compliance committee for evaluation and a recommendation for action. That could mean a fine or loss of union membership.

Actors set to boycott Golden Globes
NBC has vowed that the Golden Globes awards broadcast will go on as scheduled next Sunday (1/3), but the network now faces the prospect of having a bunch of unknowns as presenters and hardly anyone coming on stage to accept the awards. Publicists representing a wide swath of Hollywood stars sent a letter to NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker informing him that their clients will not be crossing the WGA picket line. There is still a possibility that there will not be a picket line to cross, since the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), whose members vote on the Golden Globes, has been negotiating with the WGA to try to get clearance for the show to go on. "The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has been placed in an extremely difficult position with the ongoing Writers Guild strike. We are making every effort to work out a solution that will permit the Golden Globes to take place with the creative community present to participate. We hope to announce a resolution to this unfortunate predicament on Monday," said HFPA President Jorge Camara in a statement issued Friday.
| Read the publicists' letter to Zucker |

TV News ®

What will happen in 2008
Last week we looked at what happened in 2007, and also what didn't happen. Today, we dust off our crystal balls, spread our tea leaves and consult our all-seeing, all-knowing Morse-code tapping click beetle for a glimpse into what's in store for 2008. It is strongly recommended that these lucky 13 predictions NOT be used for capex or station portfolio acquisitions, stock market selections, or any form of personal or government-sponsored wagering. However, they may be safely printed out and used to line a parakeet cage.
| Off we go then: |

MSO makes end run
around LIN

Suddenlink Communications has returned NBC programming to its cable systems in the Austin, TX area, one of two markets where it has been in a retransmission standoff with LIN Television (1/3/08 TVBR #1). Suddenlink signed a deal to carry KCEN-TV (Ch. 6) Waco-Temple-Bryan on its Williamson County systems in lieu of LIN's KXAN-TV (Ch. 36) Austin. KCEN, owned by Frank Mayborn Enterprises, is licensed to Temple and thus puts a good signal into Williamson County, located north of Austin. In a statement posted on its website, KXAN questions whether cable subscribers so close to Austin are really interested in local news from the next TV market. "Suddenlink clearly placed little value on KXAN throughout negotiations. Their decision to contract with a long-distance NBC affiliate is an unfortunate one for Suddenlink subscribers. KXAN is a trusted source for local news in the community, and has been since 1965. This deal forces viewers to watch news relevant to Waco, not Austin, and deprives viewers of local news, sports, and specialty programs. We are still available to viewers over satellite and through AT&T's U-verse and we look forward to many more years serving our community," the LIN station told local viewers on its website.

Small cablers look for FCC relief
What the America Cable Association is to make sure broadcasters cannot leverage their market power to the detriment of the operators and their customers. It is looking for help in the areas of retransmission consent and program service bundling. "When broadcasters use federal retransmission consent rules to deny choice and raise costs, it's the consumer that pays the price," said Matthew M. Polka, president and CEO of ACA. "Likewise, it runs contrary to the public interest when programmers leverage their market power in carriage negotiations to force all consumers to take and pay for high-cost and niche programming to receive popular program channels." ACA wants to assure that broadcasters must offer program services on a standalone basis at reasonable rates and terms; that they be prohibited from mandating tier placement; that price discrimination against small and medium systems is prohibited unless clearly justified; and asks for adjustments to the retrans complaint process to assure continued carriage while a complaint is pending.

Anything goes in campaign 2008?
The Federal Election Commission is supposed to have six commissioners. Unlike most federal agencies, there is no numerical advantage granted to the party of the administration currently occupying the White House, due to the election-sensitive nature of the agency's business. However, that is not the current problem. The FEC currently lacks one of the basics: a quorum. The FEC is currently reduced to Chairman David M. Weintraub (R) and Ellen L. Weintraub (D). Controversy over the Bush administration's attempt to make Hans Von Spakovsky a permanent member of the FEC is the root of the problem. Democrats, notably including presidential candidate Barack Obama (D-IL), find him to be an utterly unacceptable candidate; on the other side of the aisle, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has refused to allow any nominations to proceed through to confirmation via filibuster. Von Spakovsky asked that his name be withdrawn from consideration and withdrew from his temporary hold on the office on 12/31/07, but thus far there has been no resolution to the stalemate (of course, Congress is not currently in session). The questions include: Will candidates relying on the FEC for matching funds, notably including John Edwards (D-NC) and John McCain (R-AZ), be able to get their checks in a timely manner? More to the point, will campaign malfeasance be dealt with promptly? A reader at TPMMuckraker.com thinks that FEC justice is slow anyway and will simply be slower. The biggest problem, should the lack of a quorum persist, is the inability of campaign operatives or other concerned parties to get advisory opinions out of the FEC before attempting what may be borderline electioneering.

TVBR observation: Broadcast and fund-raising questions abounded in 2004, concerning the prominence of 527 groups, the airing of "documentaries" that others considered to be campaign propaganda (prominently focusing on Sinclair) and a situation in which Pappas Telecasting gave free airtime to Republican candidates without offering reciprocal time to their opponents. So lack of a referee could make for an interesting year.

CEOs bid 2007 good-bye with a slight burst of confidence
Chief Executive Magazine keeps its finger on the pulse of the nation's CEOs on a monthly basis, and for the last four months of 2007, that pulse was slowing down. Beginning in August, the magazine registered the longest unbroken slide in its CEO Confidence Index since its inception, as well as its biggest six-month drop. The mood of CEOs remains generally positive. The overall level confidence was up 7.5 to 122.1 (par is 100), current confidence was up 6.7 to 156.5, business condition confidence was up 10.9 to 128.8, and employment confidence was up 2.8 to 132.4. The general optimism is not as apparent when it comes to investment confidence, which had settled almost at the par level, was up 8.3 to 108.5. And it has a ways to go on the future confidence chart, where an 8.1 increase still left it below par at 98.9. 43% are looking for gradual economic growth in 2008, compared to 22% looking for gradual slippage. 32% expect no change. Chief Executive Magazine based its findings on a survey of 292 execs.

Ad Business Report TM

WPP predicts Internet to surpass TV in UK by 2009
WPP is projecting the UK ad industry will spend more online than on TV by 2009. WPP's Group M has forecast that by the end of this year 24.8% of the market will be on the internet compared to 26% in television. Online will then take the lead, with UK advertising expected to grow over 30% to 3.4 billion pounds/6.72 billion dollars in 2008. Television advertising is only anticipated to grow by less than 1% this year. By 2009, the UK will likely be the first major economy after Sweden to see online ad spend surpass TV advertising, the report claims. Radio advertising is expected to grow by 2%, due to its high compatibility with internet advertising.

Said Adam Smith, futures director of Group M: "The UK is a special case. Its TV share is depressed by the BBC and there is still a large and healthy print sector and Britons are among the world's heaviest internet users...The internet is not one medium, its growth rate is a blend of three distinct businesses growing at different speeds: search, display and classified. Most of the growth is coming from search advertising and that is being fuelled by either new money or from the direct marketing sector, not so much from TV ad budgets." When we talk about internet advertising, we are talking about a mix which includes search, display and classified advertising. Out of that, search accounts for around 60%, and that money is not coming from TV ad budgets. The internet will sit beside TV as an increasingly important avenue for advertisers."

Smith also said online video would see rapid growth: "FMCG [fast-moving consumer goods] is a small minority of online display investment. This is, however, set for rapid growth. Faster, cheaper memory makes the production, distribution and storage of video easier. Video is the mother tongue of FMCG marketing. It is also 30% of all web traffic already. Advertisers are aware of the need to find the under-35s TV is giving up, and that a website alone may not be enough to attract them."

Ron Paul releases new ad highlighting military support
Republican presidential candidate and Texas Congressman Ron Paul has released a new television ad set to run in New Hampshire through the 1/8 primary, highlighting the fact that he has received more support from active and retired military than any other candidate. "Congressman Paul honors our troops and has long been a praised as staunch advocate for veterans' issues," said Ron Paul 2008 spokesman Jesse Benton. "Dr. Paul wants to bring the troops home from Iraq and ensure that we never again send out brave soldiers to war unless doing so is necessary for our defense."
| The ad can be viewed here |

The transcript of the 30 second ad:
Narrator: A proud military veteran who served our nation, Ron Paul salutes and supports our troops to protect and defend our freedom. But who do the troops support? Ron Paul. The record shows...

[Active duty military and veterans are supporting Ron Paul.]
They're standing up for him.

["More donations from current military...and retired military...than any other candidate." -Houston Chronicle, October 18, 2007]
Our troops have spoken, and Ron Paul is the choice for their next commander-in-chief.

[Ron Paul is supported by more active duty and retired military retirees than any other candidate to be the next commander in chief.--FEC Quarterly Reports]
Ron Paul: I'm Ron Paul, and I approve this message.

Washington Business Report TM
File remains an issue
Missing issues/program lists from the public file of Butte MT CBS affiliate KXLF-TV 4 have landed it in hot water with the FCC. How hot? Try 10K's worth. But give KXLF and its ownership, the Evening Post Publishing Company, credit for candor. This was not an FCC-discovered violation: The station itself noted in filing for license renewal that it was missing necessary documentation, running from 1998 all the way through 2003. It said it immediately recreated the missing files upon discovery of the omission, but the FCC decided that its "nature, circumstances, extent and gravity" warranted the full, standard 10K base forfeiture. The FCC action is a notice of apparent liability, leaving the station the option of appealing the fine or asking for a reduction.

TVBR observation: A reduction may be possible -- the FCC very much appreciates candor and conversely detests the lack of it. However, this may not be a good time, since part of the busy FCC agenda back on 12/18/07 was taking a stab at tightening up localism reporting requirements, mandating that stations create and keep track of just this type of programming.

Media Markets & Money TM
Close encounters along the Mississippi
The Ion Media Networks deals to move WPXX-TV Memphis and WPXL-TV New Orleans from the LMA to the O&O column is complete. The landlord/seller was Flinn Broadcasting Corporation. Each station moved for 18M, or a 36M total.

here is another transaction brokered by Kalil & Co., Inc.

Entertainment Business Report TM
The Money Pit's Leslie Segrete debuts in new TV show
Money Pit co-host Leslie Segrete's new television show, "The Ugliest House on the Block," premiered Friday at 8PM on the We Network. Hosted by Tom Kraeutler and Leslie Segrete, The Money Pit weekly national radio program airs on more than 210 stations. Tom is also the Home Improvement Editor for AOL.

Warner Bros to release High-Def
titles exclusively in Blu-ray

Warner Bros, which had been producing its high-def DVD titles in both formats, will start with Blu-ray exclusively later this year. The decision was made in response to strong consumer preference for the Blu-Ray format, according to a WB announcement. Said Barry Meyer, Chairman & CEO, Warner Bros. and Kevin Tsujihara, President, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group: "Warner Bros.' move to exclusively release in the Blu-ray disc format is a strategic decision focused on the long term and the most direct way to give consumers what they want," said Meyer. "The window of opportunity for high-definition DVD could be missed if format confusion continues to linger. We believe that exclusively distributing in Blu-ray will further the potential for mass market success and ultimately benefit retailers, producers, and most importantly, consumers." Warner Home Video will continue to release its titles in standard DVD format and Blu-ray. After a short window following their standard DVD and Blu-ray releases, all new titles will continue to be released in HD DVD until the end of May.

Ratings & Research
Triplecast finishes #2, #3 and #41
After seeing the CBS and NBC simulcasts of the New England Patriots-New York Giants game originating from the NFL Network finish #2 and #3 in the weekly Nielsen ratings, we were anxious to see the weekly number crunch from TVB combining broadcast and cable ratings. The NFL Network's own telecast, hampered by its limited distribution, finished only #41 for the week in the key 18-49 demo and #62 in Household ratings. It was the #3 show on cable, but well back from #1, also an NFL game, ESPN's "Monday Night Football." Cable networks had a strong week, with specials and new episodes of scripted shows drawing strong viewership as the broadcast networks began to run out of new episodes due to the writers' strike. Cable/satellite shows claimed 16 of the top 100 shows in the 18-49 demo.
| See the list of the Top 100 |

Monday Morning Makers & Shakers

Transactions: 11/19/07-11/23/07
Lincoln Financial Media announced the spin-off of some of its Jefferson-Pilot properties in mid-November, providing the industry with the most trading value since Cumulus announced its intention to go private back at the beginning of October 2007, and ending a two-week November drought in which less than 6M changed hands (the total for 11 contracts for the bare minimum 11 stations). On the TV side, a Chattanooga CW affiliate also moved, but after that, is was more little trades in little places.



Total Deals







| Complete Charts |
Radio Transactions of the Week
Major mojo from Greater Media
| More...
TV Transactions of the Week
Even more mojo from Raycom
| More...

Stock Talk
Nightmare on Wall Street
Stock prices went into free-fall Friday after the government reported that the nation's unemployment rate grew to 5% in December, with almost no job growth. That raised red flags of an approaching recession. The Dow Industrials dropped 257 points, or 2%, to 12,800. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite was down even more, 3.8%.

TV stocks were not spared from the carnage. The TVBR Television Index plunged 2.388, or 2.5%, to 92.432, the low point of its one-week history. Young was the worst performer, down 12.2%. SBS was down 6.4% and ACME 6.3%.


Here's how stocks fared on Friday

Company Symbol Close Change Company Symbol Close Change





Journal Comm.








Lincoln Natl.


















Clear Channel




Media General
















News Corp.












Equity Media EMDA 3.45 +0.15

Ion Media








Saga Commun.












Gen. Electric








Google GOOG











Time Warner




Gray, C1. A




Wash. Post













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Below the Fold

Ad Business Report
WPP predicts Internet
To surpass TV in UK by 2009...

Media Markets & Money
Close encounters along MS
The Ion Media Networks deal from the LMA to the O&O column is complete...

Entertainment Business Report
The Money Pit's
Leslie Segrete debuts new show...

Ratings & Research
Finishes #2, #3 and #41 we have the Top 100 Programs...

Stations for Sale

Market your Stations For Sale
in our daily epapers.

Jim Carnegie
[email protected]

TV Media Moves

Upped in Connecticut
LIN Television has promoted Paul Spingola to Director of Promotion & New Media for its Hartford-New Haven duopoly, WTNH-TV (Ch. 8, ABC) and WCTX-TV (Ch. 59, MyNetworkTV). Spignola had been Director of Promotion and Brand Management, but is now adding responsibility for the growing Internet platforms.

COO for Discovery
Discovery communications has promoted Mark Hollinger to the newly created position of Chief Operating Officer, reporting to President and CEO David Zaslav. Hollinger had been President, Global Businesses and Operations, and General Counsel.

More News Headlines

Kucinich protests exclusion
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) filed a complaint with the FCC Friday over ABC's decision to exclude him from its primetime debate broadcast Saturday from New Hampshire, site of this week's presidential primary. "ABC should not be the first primary," Kucinich said in his complaint alleging that ABC was violating equal time requirements. For its part, the network said it had been very clear about the rules to qualify: either finish in the top four in last week's Iowa caucuses or poll 5% or higher in certain key polls. The FCC did not act on Kucinich's complaint and the broadcast went on without him.

RBR - Radio News

XM/Sirius merger hung up in Washington
The nation's two satellite audio services had hoped for an answer on their pending merger by the end of 2007, and a lot of analysts and other close observers thought they'd get it. Not only that, but many of the analysts thought the answer would be positive, despite buzz that for the DoJ to arrive at that conclusion it would involve overruling staff objections to the merger. But so far neither the DoJ nor the FCC have weighed in. "As the companies said form the outset, we expected to complete the processes at DoJ and the FCC so that the regulators could make their decisions and the merger could close by the end of 2007," the companies told Reuters in a statement. "We have fully complied with the requests from both agencies. The ball is now in their court and we look forward to their determination." When the services were first chartered, it was with the expressed taboo on a merger. They have argued that in the years since their birth the audio marketplace has changed beyond anybody's expectations and that they compete with numerous services including broadcast radio, iPods, the internet and other services. Others, notably the NAB and numerous antitrust experts, have pointed out that the two companies provide a unique service and must be left in competition with one another.

RBR observation: At least one attorney told Reuters that this is a complicated case to review. We think not at all. The mere fact that approval has to be accompanied by promises of a temporary rate cap proves there is the threat of monopoly abuse down the road, the instant the temporary period expires.

TVBR Radar 2008
Television News you won't read any where else. TVBR--First, Accurate, and Independently Owned.

WGA Strike Central, Day 60
Latest network primetime
schedule changes
Carat Programming's Broadcast and Video Beat reports the sole remaining original episode of ABC's Grey's Anatomy will now air on 1/10. The medical drama, which gets forced into strike-induced repeats, will move to Fridays at 8 p.m. The post-tornado and sole remaining original episode of Desperate Housewives will air this Sunday, 1/6.

TVBR observation: View the complete details with stats, charts in this report of TVBR.
01/04/08 TVBR #2

Landmark Communications
on the auction block
Is up for sale, although the company emphasized that it may sell some assets and keep others, depending on market conditions. The private company, which had an estimated 1.75 billion in revenues in 2006. The crown jewel is The Weather Channel, one of the last remaining major independent cable networks.

TVBR observation: This seems like an inopportune time to be trying to sell major media properties, particularly daily newspapers, but The Weather Channel is such a rare prize that it will certainly ignite a spirited bidding war. We note, though, that Frank Batten Sr. is up there in years and you can't put off estate planning forever. Also, he has been very active in recent years in giving away large chunks of his wealth to charity. Selling The Weather Channel, if not all or most of the company, will produce liquidity that even a billionaire sometimes has need of. Who will be bidding for The Weather Channel? Immediate speculation focused on News Corporation, NBC Universal and Comcast.
01/04/08 TVBR #2

Arbitron touts PPM demo progress
In his monthly PPM press conference call, Arbitron President of Sales & Marketing Pierre Bouvard, pictured, proudly declared "all-time high" delivery overall and in the troublesome 18-24 demo. New efforts kick in next month to boost 25-34 delivery, just as 18-24 has improved. But 18-24 delivery is still lagging in the two smaller embedded metros within the New York metro. Arbitron insists that all that's needed is more time.

RBR observation: The monthly press call was followed by the monthly PPM client call, which is closed to us press types. We understand, though, that there was some discussion about why broadcasters are having to pay so much more for PPM, as compared to diaries, but no new ad spending is materializing because of PPM. Bouvard reportedly countered that it is not about new dollars, but rather about keeping existing ad spending from moving away from radio to the Internet and other competitors due to advertisers demanding accountability. Complete analysis in RBR.
01/04/08 RBR #2

TV stands to gain
most from elections

The Project for Excellence in Journalism has brought forth some numbers from 2006 to shine a light on where in the media campaign cash is likely to be headed in 2008. The spotlight is clearly focused on broadcast television, with radio getting the biggest share of the remainder. PEJ says television raked in 72% of the political take in 2006, followed by radio with 11.8%, cable/satellite TV (6.6%), newspapers (4.8%), billboards (2.5%) and finally, the Internet (1.8%). As for the broadcast television cash, almost all of it is targeted to specific stations rather than placed with one of the networks.

TVBR observation: The internet remains a growth category. To date, it has been used more as a source of information and a fund-raising tool; political campaigns seem to be behind the curve in figuring out how best to get their message out via paid internet advertising. But just as the Howard Dean campaign first exploited the fund-raising aspect back in 2003/2004, it is probably just a matter of time before somebody, somewhere figures out a way to effectively spend money there. When that happen, watch for the medium to climb up the rankings list.
01/04/08 TVBR #2

WGA Strike Central, Day 60
AMPTP: Strike now costing more than could have gained
The public war of words continues: AMPTP's website released a statement over the holidays, paired with a video listing numerous statistics and quotes from WGA leaders that back up its short, but direct comment: "It's official: The people in charge at the WGA have led working writers into a strike that has now cost those working writers more in salary and benefits than the WGA's organizers ever expected to gain from the strike. And the strike continues because the union's leaders are focused on jurisdictional issues that would expand their own power, at the expense of the new media issues that working writers care most about."
01/03/08 TVBR #1

It Didn't Happen in 2007
A lot of things happened last year, but a lot more things that might have happened did not. Here is our take on the most significant non-events of the year. You might call this the woulda-shoulda-coulda lists, except in some cases -- like the lack of any significant new indecency fines -- the non-event status is good thing., Here are 18 things that did not take place in this special report page of TVBR.
01/03/08 TVBR #1

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