Welcome to TVBR's Daily Epaper
Volume 25, Issue 8, Jim Carnegie, Editor & Publisher
Monday Morning January 14th, 2008
WGA Strike Central: Day 71
ABC Studios axes 30 producer deals
The next wave of destruction wrought by the WGA strike has just begun: ABC Studios on Friday became the first TV studio to terminate overall deals under the force majeure provision in its producers' deals. Close to 30 writing and nonwriting producers without active projects have been fired. They reportedly include Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah, director Larry Charles, the writing duo of Joshua Sternin and Jeffrey Ventimilia; producer Sean Bailey, the producing duo of Nina Wass and Gene Stein, writers Bill Callahan and Jack Kenney and actor-producer Taye Diggs of ABC/ABC Studios' "Private Practice." Warner Bros. TV may be next on the force majeure list.

Golden Globes a non-exclusive telecast
The battle between NBC and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA)/Dick Clark Productions peaked Friday as disagreements over Golden Globes money and creative control led HFPA to pull NBC's broadcast exclusivity. The Globes "press conference" (what the ceremony was been reduced to--NBC last week was dubbing it NBC News event, with "Today" and other NBC personalities to host) was not hosted or produced by NBC and was allowed to be aired by any network or syndicated show. "After discussions with NBC, Hollywood Foreign Press Association President Jorge Camara announced that the HFPA will have complete control of its 65th Annual Golden Globe Awards Announcement that is scheduled to take place Sunday, January 13 at 6:00 p.m. PST in the International Ballroom of The Beverly Hilton," HFPA said in a statement. "Under the new arrangement, there will be no restrictions placed on media outlets covering the press conference." The move opens up the possibility of a lawsuit between Dick Clark Productions and NBC over show costs. NBC had said it shouldn't be required to pay money for a live news event. Said DCP in a statement: "NBC wanted to have an exclusive three-hour broadcast special disguised as a news conference that would bar all other media, and yet was unwilling to pay a nominal license fee." Presenting at the conference were anchors from "Showbiz Tonight," "Entertainment Tonight," "Inside Edition," "E! News Daily" others, HFPA announced. However, ABC, CBS and Fox didn't preempt their Sunday programming to cover the event.

DGA, AMPTP to begin negotiations
AMPTP and Directors Guild of America announced in a joint statement Friday they would hold their first formal session Saturday at AMPTP's headquarters in LA. Reports are that DGA that the will quickly hammer out a deal with AMPTP. However, the feeling is these negotiations may not have a lot of influence over WGA negotiations-or lack thereof. Said WGA and the Screen Actors Guild in a joint statement: "We wish the DGA well and hope that they achieve a fair deal that incorporates principles that will benefit all creative artists. The DGA has to do what is best for its membership, but it is important to remember that they do not represent actors and writers." A tentative agreement could be done as early as this week. Both sides have agreed to a press blackout until a deal is done or talks break off, AMPTP and DGA said in their statement.

Weinstein Co.
signs deal with WGA

As predicted (1/8/08 TVBR #4), Weinstein Co. signed an interim deal with the WGA, co-founder Harvey Weinstein confirmed in an interview. The agreement is identical to the pacts WGA recently signed with United Artists and Worldwide Pants. The deals allow companies to hire union writers for their movie and television projects during the strike, which has been underway since early November. Weinstein and others who have signed these deals hope the action will help push the studios and writers back to the negotiating table. "It's important for the business to get the ball rolling and get back to work," said Weinstein, who with his brother, Bob, launched Weinstein Co. in 2005. Weinstein Co. has one movie that would immediately resume work. Before the strike began, writer and director Anthony Minghella ("The English Patient") had begun work on a script for a screen version of the musical "Nine." WGA is also in talks with other independent companies, including Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.


TV News ®

Belo board sets split in motion
Belo Corporation will complete its previously announced split into two companies (10/2/07 TVBR #192) next month, as the current board of directors last week approved details of the split. Belo's board has established the close of business on January 25, 2008 as the record date for shareholders and set a distribution ratio of 0.20 A.H. Belo shares for each share of Belo Corp. A.H. Belo will be the new company created to own the newspaper properties, while the television properties remain under the company's current name. The distribution of A.H. Belo common stock is expected to occur on Friday, February 8th and will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange with the ticker symbol "AHC" on Monday, February 11th. Belo Corp. will continue to trade as "BLC." No fractional AHC shares will be distributed and cash will be paid in lieu of fractional shares. In other words, if you now own 100 Belo Corp. shares, after the distribution you will own 100 shares of Belo Corp. and 20 shares of A.H. Belo.

The distribution ratio of 0.20 means that there will be approximately 17.6 million shares of A.H. Belo Series A shares outstanding at the spin-off and approximately 2.9 million shares of super-voting A.H. Belo Series B shares (which do not trade publicly) outstanding. "This is an exciting step in Belo's strategic plan to enhance shareholder value by creating separate television and newspaper companies that will be very focused and responsive to changing industry dynamics," said Belo Chairman and CEO Robert Decherd. At the time of the split, he will become CEO of A.H. Belo and Dunia Shive will become CEO of Belo Corp. Following the spin-off, Belo Corp. currently plans to pay an annual dividend of approximately 30 cents per share, paid quarterly, and A.H. Belo currently plans to pay an annual dividend of approximately one buck per share, paid quarterly, after adjusting for the 0.20 distribution ratio. The actual amount and timing of each dividend are subject to final determination by the boards of the two companies.

TVBR observation: What is the relative value of the two stocks? We'll find out soon enough in the market. Belo said the NYSE has advised it that "when issued" trading in both post-split stocks will begin January 23rd, two business days before the record date. This could be a little confusing, since the "when issued" Belo Corp. shares will not include any right to receive A.H. Belo shares, while anyone selling Belo Corp. shares the "regular way" will also be selling their rights to the new A.H. Belo share distribution. In theory, the Belo Corp. shares trading the "regular way" on the NYSE should be valued about the same as one share of "when issued" Belo Corp. plus 20% of one share of "when issued" A.H. Belo. TVBR will be trading the "when issued" prices to see if that is indeed the case.

ABC, NABET sign new
four year contract

ABC and the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET) Sector of the Communications Workers of America ratified a new four-year contract Friday covering about 1,100 staff employees and several thousand hires--news writers, desk assistants and technicians at the ABC Television Network, four ABC O&Os, ABC News Radio and at ABC operations. Union members will get a guaranteed pay hike of at least 3% in each of the next four years. Per diem pay hikes are also included in the pact that runs through March 2011 (the contract is effective 1/12). All eight NABET bargaining units at ABC ratified the contract. Earlier, both NABET's leadership and its negotiating team had unanimously recommended ratification. Many of the employees are at WABC-TV New York, KABC-TV Los Angeles, WLS-TV Chicago and KGO-TV San Francisco - and at the ABC Television Network in NY, LA and DC.


A year of double-digit growth
Upstart TeleFutura, the younger sibling of Hispanic TV network giant Univision, is celebrating strong growth in 2007. Primetime viewership was up 20% and Sr. VP/Operating Manager Bert Medina declared that "TeleFutura's goal of aggressively competing with Telemundo is now a reality." TeleFutura boasts that it now out-delivers NBC Universal's Telemundo in several dayparts. In Monday-Friday Early Morning it claims a 22% advantage in viewers 2+ and much greater margins in younger demos. In Monday-Friday Daytime TeleFutura claims a 10% advantage in Women 18-49 and 18-34. TeleFutura says it also beats Telemundo for 18-49 Adults in Weekend Primetime and Weekend Daytime.

Young demo showing interest in 2008
After developing a reputation for lack of interest in political affairs, members of the 18-29 demographic are turning that perception on its head. In fact, a trend toward more participation in the electoral process began in 2004, and it seems to be gathering more steam this year. The Washington Post quotes a survey from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement which demonstrated upticks for the age group in 2004, further growth in 2006 and which projects even greater participation in 2008.

A new website, VoteGopher, is attracting a crowd, providing information on candidates and their positions on a wide variety of key issues (unfortunately, media consolidation is not one of them). Another study from Peanut Labs shows that 18-29s, independents as well as those identifying with one of the two major parties, are engaged, think the nation is pointed in the wrong direction, and are more interested in "honesty and trust" than they are in "experience" in a candidate. This is leading young Republicans toward the candidacy of Ron Paul (R-TX) and Barack Obama (D-IL). One observer notes that it is no accident that these two candidates are deriving the most benefit from online campaign contributions. Much of that cash is coming from engaged, tech-savvy youngsters.

TVBR observation: When you think political advertising, you think of formats such as News-Talk and news and public affairs programming on the television side. The burgeoning interest of younger citizens would seem to open the category to music-formatted stations and shows targeted to this group. For broadcast stations that have never seriously considered tapping into the political category, this may be the time to make a play. Remember that if there is a constituency among this demo for Paul and Obama, then there are also candidates who don't want to lose votes to either of them. Hey, Huck! Hey, Hillary! Wanna piece of our demo? Spots are going fast -- better rock on over here immediately.


Wall Street Business Report TM
Ion's public days drawing to a close
Following recent FCC approval, Citadel Investment Group has closed on Bud Paxson's control stake in Ion Media Networks. CEO Brandon Burgess was elected Chairman Friday as Larry Patrick resigned along with two other independent directors, Fred Smith and Lucie Salhany. Citadel already owns almost all of the public shares of the company, but a small number have still been trading. Those should be called in soon, the stock delisted by the American Stock Exchange-and Ion will be a private company. Ion still has public bonds, though. With its improved balance sheet, Ion said in an SEC filing Friday that it has notified the trustee for its 405 million in floating rate second priority senior secured notes due 2013 that it has elected to pay interest entirely in cash (rather than additional notes) for the interst period commencing on January 15th and ending on April 14th.


Ad Business Report TM

Fox Soccer channel goes
bar-hopping with Corona

Fox Soccer Channel has partnered with first-time advertiser Corona to launch a national multiplatform sponsorship and turnkey consumer promotion tied to the Barclays Premier League and other live soccer programming. The fully integrated sponsorship will be activated across television, online, radio, print and through a series of 63 "Fox Soccer Channel Viewing Parties Presented by Corona" at participating pubs in New York, LA, DC, Atlanta, Denver, Chicago, Columbus, Boston, and Miami. Set in Corona/FSC-branded taverns, the events will be staged in three phases: Kick-Off (1/1-31), Halftime (3/1-31) and Overtime (5/1-31). Fans attending the viewing parties will receive Corona beer specials and opportunities to take home co-branded premiums, including beer buckets and coaster sets.

A promotional announcement will air on Fox Soccer Channel through the end of May to drive awareness of the pub initiative and invite viewers to local events. On Foxsoccer.com, banner ads will direct fans to a dedicated pub microsite at foxsoccer.com/viewingparties, where they can find everything they need to know about the promotion, including participating venues in their respective cities. Additional media support will include "call-to-action" tags on radio spots, plus direct mail, viral marketing and print advertising aimed at soccer fans throughout the country. Creative Presence Partners Atlanta handled.

Bin there, seen that
Apparently there just aren't enough advertising venues yet. We keep hearing about new ones all the time. The latest to come to our attention is called "a new dimension in airport advertising." Did you guess that it involves the "recyclable polypropylene plastic substrate?" We didn't think so. We doubt most of you even know what that means, except for the plastic part. Anyway, if you are the kind of advertiser that wants to capture citizens when they are likely to be highly bored and/or irritated, then this may be the venue for you. It consists of placing an ad on the bottom of the plastic bins into which you throw your keys, change, daggers, firearms, hand grenades and other metallic personal items when going through security to board a plane. AZUNA makes the trays for SecurityPoint Media's checkpoint advertising medium. Advertisers already using the service are said to include Easton Sports, KFC, LG Electronics, Comcast and the New York Yankees.

TVBR observation: There are still a few places left where you can allow your eyes to stray with out being assaulted with yet another friendly word from somebody's sponsor. For example, we had occasion to visit the National Zoo in Washington the other day. We are happy to report that none of space the on the local elephant herd had been sold to any Republican candidates, nor had any of the donkeys down at the domestic exhibit been sold to any Democratic candidates. So far...


Media Markets & Money TM
ZGS acquires Philadelphia beachhead
What else would you call a television station on the easternmost fringe of the sprawling Philadelphia DMA, all the way over to Atlantic City NJ? That's where ZGS Communications will be setting up shop, with Telemundo 62/49 WWSI-TV. The seller is Hispanic Broadcasters of Philadelphia LLC. The price will be 10M cash, and the contract is accompanied by an SSA which allowed the buyers to begin selling time on the station at the start of the new year. ZGS is headed by Ronald G. Gordon and Eduardo Zavala.

CBS station spin completed
The sale of CBS Corporation television stations to Four Points Media Group, an operating company formed by Cerberus Capital Management, is now official. Bringing this transaction home also brings the company's 922M sell-off of station properties to the finish line. The immediate closing involves stations in four markets, KEYE-TV Austin TX; KUTV-FM & KUSG-TV Salt Lake City UT; WLWC-TV Providence RI-New Bedford MA; and WTVX-TV West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce FL. The value is 185M. The Austin and SLC stations are CBS affiliates; the Providence and West Palm stations are with CW. The deal also includes a pair of Class A stations in West Palm, carrying MNT and TV Azteca. In all, CBS has sold 11 television stations in seven markets, and 39 radio stations in 10 markets in deals dating back to December 2006. It is left with 29 television and 140 radio stations.


Washington Business Report TM
FCC set for first
Open Meeting of 2008

The traditional format for the FCC January Open Meeting will be featured as per usual this week on Thursday, 1/17/08. Four panels will parade before the Commissioners, all comprised of bureau chiefs and managing directors, who will tale a look back at 2007, and perhaps offer some insight into what's coming up for 2008. Of most interest to broadcasters are the Media Bureau, which is part of Panel Two, and the Enforcement Bureau, on the caboose of the session, Panel Four. The meeting kicks off at 9:30 AM Eastern time.

TVBR observation: Typically, very little happens during the first meeting. The chiefs (along with a smattering of others with different job titles), and tell about all the things they did during the previous year and how much hard work it took. The commissioners will compliment them on and thank them for their hard work. In fact, perhaps we should keep track of how many times the phrase hard work is cited, and award bonus points for those chiefs and commissioners who find the most creative alternatives. If we're lucky, one of the chiefs will tip their hand in a meaningful way. It would be good to know, for example, if the Enforcement Bureau is hellbent on dusting off that brand new, squeaky clean still-in-the-box, mint-condition 350K indecency fine and smash it over the head of some broadcaster who is unfortunate enough to have a DJ contract a case of rapid-onset Tourette's Syndrome while on the air live. But don't count on it.

Organizations moving DTV forward
The NAB hitchhiked onto an annual Washington DC event put together by one of the market's prominent network O&Os, NBC 5 WRC-TV. The event is Health and Fitness Expo, held at the Washington Convention Center over the weekend, and the reason for the thumbs out posture was to inform attendees about the DTV transition. It's part of the DTV Road Show, which will have logged 95K miles at 600 venues in 200 markets before the year is out. Meanwhile, the Michigan Association of Broadcasters is making plans to educate the 600K at-risk television viewers it thinks exist in the state. It is developing its own educational program in conjunction with community organizations most likely to have existing lines of communication to those who may otherwise be left behind 2/17/09, including the elderly, the poor and those in rural areas. Beyond that, television and radio stations will be enlisted statewide to get the word out over the air via PSAs.

TVBR observation: There are national, state, and local stakeholders in every single market in America who will be working to get the word out all year long. We suspect every stakeholder worth its salt is not going to wait for some other stakeholder to make sure businesses is not disrupted when the big change occurs. The result should be that it will be very difficult for a citizen to go 2009 unaware of the transition. Will some of them ignore the warnings anyway? Of course. But we just find it difficult to believe that lack of consumer awareness will be a huge problem.


Entertainment Business Report TM
The Daily Buzz adds localism option
The FCC recently signaled the possibility of localism mandates and many broadcasters are looking to address that possibility ASAP-especially smaller independent stations without a news crew. Bottom line--not every television station can create localized content that spans multiple dayparts. Too often the available resources are already stretched way too thin. What to do? "The Daily Buzz," a five-years and running, fresh, topical and somewhat offbeat morning news show produced distributed nationally by ACME Communications has added set roll-over segments twice each hour that allow stations to insert a live or taped local segment.

COO Doug Gealy tells TVBR: "We don't know what the FCC's localism mandate is going to look like at this point. Knowing the FCC, it's probably going to be a certain amount of hours per week. Stations can use the localized breaks and localized weather to build up enough time across a five day a week, three- or two-hour a day show and at the same time drive revenue and have news for an inexpensive way to localize. This is great for a lot of stations that don't have news, like The CW or MyNetwork TV affiliates. Our stations tell us this is the most talked about show in their markets, because people think it's the local show."

Stations can use a portion of that time for local sponsorship as well. If they've not yet produced content to insert, The Daily Buzz says it will fill the time with content on the days needed. For several months now The Daily Buzz has also given affiliates a free daily "Buzz Brief" that is used to sell sponsored news nuggets outside the actual telecast of the daily show.

Golf Channel anchor Tilghman suspended for racial joke
The Golf Channel last announced that it suspended its lead anchor Kelly Tilghman for two weeks after comments she made over a week ago. She was joking with analyst Nick Faldo 1/4 after the second round of the Mercedes-Benz Championship when she said one way for young players to deal with the challenge Tiger Woods brings to the table would be to "lynch him in a back alley." She's apologized and Woods has accepted it. The Golf Channel said the statement was "hurtful and grossly inappropriate."

WWE goes HD
World Wrestling Entertainment announced eginning the week of 1/21, WWE's Monday Night RAW and A.M. RAW on USA, ECW: Extreme Championship Wrestling on SCI FI Channel, and Friday Night SmackDown on The CW will all be delivered in HD. WWE will also broadcast its pay-per-views in HD, starting with Royal Rumble on January 27. WWE's switch to high-def was made possible by a series of upgrades to the company's television studios in Stamford, Conn. The 20 million HD renovations included refitting of equipment to broadcast WWE programming and global pay-per-view programming in HD on cable and satellite systems around the world.


Internet Business Report TM
Social networking sites slow and inaccessible
Popular social networking sites are frustrating users, according to WatchMouse - by making them wait. Research from the leading website monitoring company has shown that Web 2.0 sites often lag behind other commercial sites in performance - they are often slow to open or fail to load properly. WatchMouse monitored the time it took the social networking sites listed on Wikipedia to load. The results showed that the worst, in terms of availability, was the popular Facebook. Other well-known culprits included Twitter, last.fm, Windows Live Spaces, Friendster and del.icio.us. Of the 104 sites monitored, nearly half - 51 earned a Site Performance Index (SPI) of 1000 or more, which indicates very slow load time. This was an unexpected outcome, considering most of these sites rely heavily on Ajax, which generally delivers quicker load times because the dynamics of the site do not load immediately. While first generation websites generally required a webpage to fully load each time a user clicked, the use of Ajax helps websites improve interactivity, speed, functionality and usability by instead exchanging small amounts of data with the server upon user action. Faceparty performed the best - with an SPI of 303 - indicating that users can access the site most frequently and in the fastest time among the monitored social networking sites.


Ratings & Research
Judy wins again
The battle for the top of the heap in syndication continues and "Judge Judy" has once again bested "Wheel of Fortune." The weekly tally from the Syndicated Network Television Association (SNTA) is based on data from Nielsen Media Research.

SYNDICATION: 12/24/07-12/30/07

RANK

PROGRAM

ORIG

HHLD Rtg.

1

JUDGE JUDY

CTD

7.6

2

WHEEL OF FORTUNE

CTD

6.8

3

JEOPARDY

CTD

5.6

3t

TWO AND A HALF MEN

WB

5.6

5

EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND

CTD

5.2

6

OPRAH WINFREY SHOW

CTD

4.7

7

CSI MIAMI

CTD

4.6

8

FAMILY GUY-M-F

2/T

4.5

8t

SEINFELD

SPT

4.5

10

SEINFELD-WKND

SPT

4.3

 

 

 

 

Source: SNTA; Nielsen Media Research data


Engineering Business Report TM
The Audemat group purchases Nortek
The Audemat group announced the buyout of Nortek. According to Bruno Rost, Audemat Group CEO, the purchase of Nortek, recognized for analog and digital TV products in the French domestic market, was the ideal partner to advance the development of future products in Digital TV, TNT and TV over cell phones. Following its incorporation with the Audemat group, Nortek will be called Audemat-Nortek. Dominique Poissonnier and Jean-Luc Guiraud, former managing directors will be now part of the board of the Audemat group.


Monday Morning Makers & Shakers

Transactions: 11/26/07-11/30/07
November trading ended on a slow note, with only six transactions involving just seven stations and absolutely no action on the television side. However, a SoCal relocation project being undertaken by Liberman provided the top price tag, and Salem bought another project, a Baltimore AM station which it will modify in order to upgrade one of its other properties up I-95 in the New York market, combining for over 85% of total week trading value.

11/26/07-11/30/07

Total

Total Deals

6

AMs

2

FMs

5

TVs

0
Value
15.57M
| Complete Charts |
Radio Transactions of the Week
Liberman buys FM, hires moving van
| More...
|
TV Transactions of the Week
Settling in for a pre-winter nap

©2008 Radio Business Report, Inc. All rights reserved. www.rbr.com / www.tvbr.com

Stock Talk
Worries on Wall Street
Stock prices fell Friday amid worries by traders about the likelihood of a recession this year. The Dow Industrials fell 247 points, or 1.9%, to close at 12,606.

Most TV stocks were lower. The TVBR Television Index declined 0.903, or 1%, to 92.357. Nexstar was down 7.3%, Fisher 5.3% and Gray Television 4.7%. ACME had a good day, though, up 13%. Although not a component of the index, Journal was down 7.3%.


Stocks

Here's how stocks fared on Friday

Company Symbol Close Change Company Symbol Close Change

Acme*

ACME

2.60

+0.30

Journal Comm.

JRN

7.39

-0.55

Belo*

BLC

15.05

-0.33

Lincoln Natl.

LNC

55.78

+0.23

CBS CI. B* CBS

24.13

-0.46

LIN TV*

TVL

11.50

-0.01

CBS CI. A CBSa

24.29

-0.37

McGraw-Hill

MHP

42.71

+0.22

Clear Channel

CCU

34.47

-0.53

Media General

MEG

17.52

+0.40

Disney

DIS

30.32

-0.35

Meredith

MDP

50.63

-1.00

Emmis

EMMS

2.74

+0.29

News Corp.

NWS

19.78

-0.34

Entravision*

EVC

6.99

-0.30

Nexstar*

NXST

8.08

-0.64

Equity Media* EMDA 3.41 +0.21

Ion Media

ION

1.34

-0.02

Fisher*

FSCI

34.56

-1.93

Saga Commun.

SGA

5.93

-0.01

Gannett

GCI

33.54

-0.01

SBS

SBSA

1.51

-0.07

Gen. Electric

GE

35.17

-0.75

Scripps

SSP

41.50

-0.47

Google GOOG

638.25

-8.48

Sinclair*

SBGI

8.29

-0.19

Gray*

GTN

6.90

-0.34

Time Warner

TWX

16.01

-0.05

Gray, C1. A

GTNa

7.72

-0.18

Wash. Post

WPO

794.79

-5.99

Hearst-Argyle*

HTV

19.90

-0.05

Young*

YBTVA

0.91

-0.03

*Component of the TVBR Television Index
©2008 Radio Business Report, Inc. All rights reserved. www.rbr.com / www.tvbr.com

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Below the Fold

Media Markets & Money
ZGS acquires Philly beachhead
Setting up shop, with Telemundo 62/49 WWSI-TV...

CBS spin completed
To Four Points Media Group is now official 922M sell-off of station properties to the finish line...

Engineering Business Report
KATV Little Rock tower falls
2,000-ft tower that was the 2nd tallest structure in the world...

Entertainment Business Report
The Daily Buzz adds localism option
Bottom line--not every station can create localized content that spans multiple dayparts...


Stations for Sale

Market your Stations For Sale
in our daily epapers.

Contact
Jim Carnegie
[email protected]


TV Media Moves

A Starz is born
Veteran TV executive Gene George has joined global entertainment production and distribution company Starz Media as Executive Vice President, Worldwide Distribution. George will oversee sales and distribution functions for Starz Media, including forging partnerships with domestic and international broadcasters and expanding the company's distribution to new markets worldwide. He joins Starz Media from Regent Worldwide, where he served as President.

Upped at MTV
Catherine Houser has been promoted to Executive Vice President of Human Resources at MTV Networks, succeeding JoAnne Griffith, who is leaving the company after two decades to establish an independent consulting practice. Houser had been Sr. VP of Human Resources, based in LA, and will move to New York with this promotion.




More News Headlines

Nexstar goes green
Nexstar Broadcasting Group announced the launch of its environmentally friendly "nexstarGREEN" initiative. Employees in each of the companies 29 markets have adopted a specific eco-sensitive project. Today their collective efforts are making a big difference. Electronic recycling drives in both Springfield, Missouri and Altoona, PA have set all-time records. In Springfield, more than a thousand people responded with 14 tons of electronics. Hundreds of computers, monitors and TV sets will now be recycled instead of being dumped in landfills. Springfield's Computer Recycling Center says this is the largest response in company history.

In Altoona, community response and participation was also overwhelming. In addition to electronics, the recycling drive in Blair County also included home appliances. Organizers say it was the best response they'd ever seen.

In San Angelo, TX and Hagerstown, MD it was all about recycling paper. In both cities paper was collected, shredded and is now destined to be recycled. Because of these efforts thousands of pounds of paper will find a new and useful second life.

In Little Rock, Nexstar employees took matters into their own hands. They adopted 8 blocks of a downtown street and will regularly work to keep it litter-free. They think the best way to be good stewards of the environment is to lead by example. nexstarGREEN isn't limited to individual community projects. The green message will also be delivered through weekly-televised environmental reports. Additionally, a dedicated "green page" has been launched on each market's interactive web portal. These web sites showcase locally produced content, list available resources and offer links to other useful sites.

ISM International buys slots on European cable net targeting 11 countries
ISM International has signed a long term agreement with Global Broadcasting & Syndication and acquired a minimum of 5 million dollars in air time for commercials and programming to promote ISM International divisions and product lines. Global broadcasting & Syndication's thematic channels are distributed via Eutelsat Satellite that reach 120 million households in Europe. ISM will have access to daily ten, thirty and sixty second advertising slots and half hour program slots to showcase the products and services of ISM International products and services. The commercials and programming will be aired on Visitors Network, ItsMyFaith, IndiePix, Hip Hop and the Comedy & Games channels. Those channels will air in Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Leichtenstein, the Alto Adige region of Italy, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia Herzegovina and Croatia, with France and Sweden added to the list in February and other European markets following in Q2. The content on these channels is aired in English with German subtitles, allowing content providers maximum reach in the markets. ISM CEO Mario Quenneville says, "This is the kind of deal that American companies must strike in order to be competitive in a global economy. It is no longer enough to penetrate only the U.S. market. The Euro is a strong currency and we are pleased to be able to have such unprecedented access to these consumers and to all consumers in Europe."


International

Across the pond: Anatomy of a merger
United Kingdom's Telegraph Media Group put out a report recently describing results of a radio merger that were disappointing, to say the least. The wedding of two strong companies, London leader Capital Radio and regional powerhouse GWR ended up with stock prices falling from 40 to 16 pounds. Ideally, says TMG, the nuptials would have combined each company's cultural assets, including "...Capital's glamour and GWR's good cost control." Instead, investors got Capital's arrogance and GWR's insularity. The merged company is said to have been hurt by letting key talent slip away (and losing the top slot in London), by becoming a target of the rest of the industry, and making a big bet on HD radio, "...a bet that may have proved a loser," TMG opined.


RBR - Radio News

New CEO
has 3-year deal

An SEC filing by Westwood One discloses that new President and CEO Thomas Beusse signed a three-year contract when he joined the company last week (1/9/08 RBR #5). With speculation in the marketplace about the company being sold in the next few years, we note that Beusse continues to be paid for two years and gets immediate vesting of some stock options if that employment period is cut short. The new CEO of the nation's largest radio network company will be paid a base salary of 700K per year and he'll be eligible to as much as double that via a performance bonus. In any case, his bonus will be at least 300K this year. He's been granted options to purchase one million shares of Westwood One stock and, based on performance as determined by the board of directors, could receive options for up to 625K shares each of the next two year.

Getting the new CEO in place is viewed as a positive by analyst Chris Ensley at Bear Stearns, but he is not yet changing his "peer perform" rating on the stock. Ensley notes that Westwood One needs to negotiate with its banks before its leverage ratio is set to step down at the end of Q1. He also notes that WW1 could be skating close to a bond covenant by mid-year, so negotiation with bondholders may be needed as well. "We believe the CEO announcement is a clear positive that will enable Westwood One to address credit issues that are weighing heavily on the stock. With radio industry growth decelerating, we maintain our Peer Perform on Westwood One," Ensley told clients.

RBR observation: While Beusse's deal allows for the possibility of a buyout of the company, that is by no means a certainty. Until the credit markets improve dramatically, it is not likely that we will see many, if any, new private equity deals in broadcasting.


TVBR Radar 2008
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WGA Strike Central, Day 68
"Law & Order" showrunner in fracas with Fox employee
Looks like tempers are getting a bit frazzled in LA with working employees crossing picket lines daily. News Corp as well as striking writers have confirmed to LA Weekly's Nikki Finke that an impatient Fox employee driving a black SUV got into a physical fracas with picketing Rene Balcer, showrunner of Law & Order and co-creator of Law & Order: Criminal Intent.
01/11/08 TVBR #7

Private equity funds
raised record bucks in 2007
How's that, you ask? Didn't the credit markets collapse at mid-year and derail the private equity industry? Welcome to the new era of vulture private equity. According to Dow Jones Private Equity Analyst, a unit of the company now owned by News Corporation that tracks the private equity business, US private equity firms raised a record 302 billion bucks in 2007, up 19% over 2006.

TVBR observation: Anyone want to bet on how long it will be before we see one of those vulture funds making a bid for a battered broadcasting company? There are plenty of unhappy investors, particularly in radio, who would welcome an opportunity to cut their losses and run. Interep and Regent Communications have already had encounters with such funds, but both remain independent and publicly traded.
01/11/08 TVBR #7

Disgruntled investor
throws in the towel
Remember Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder Advisers LLC, one of the big shareholders pressing Emmis to do a buyout deal to cash out public shareholders? (10/26/07 RBR #210) Well, the investment group says it no longer owns over 5% of Emmis' stock and may sell more, due to its disappointment that nothing has happened to enhance shareholder value. Bleichroeder Advisers still owns 1,434,000 Emmis shares, but no longer has to file reports on how large (or small) its stake is. It is playing close to its vest on whether or not it will sell off the rest of the shares right away.
01/11/08 RBR #7

TV station revenues
expected to rise 11% this year
Typical of the odd-even cycle of years with and without federal elections, BIA Financial Network reports that 2007 television station revenues fell 2% to 22.2 billion. But with record political spending expected this year, the firm forecasts that 2008 TV station revenues will rise as much as 11%.
01/11/08 TVBR #7

WGA Strike Central, Day 67
Globes cancellation costing big bucks; what about Academy Awards?
With cancellation of the Golden Globe Awards on 1/13 because of the WGA strike and plans to picket, the loss will reportedly cost NBC between 10 and 15 million in ad revenue, even with the show's replacement with alternative coverage announcing the winners (the show was expected to bring in 25 million for the net). Last year's Oscars ceremony pulled in 40 million viewers, with NBC charging an estimated 1.7 million for a 30 second ad. We wanted to know how much it may cost ABC if the 80th Annual Academy Awards, scheduled for 2/24, gets scrapped as well. A separate agreement, a la Worldwide Pants and UA, is most likely being negotiated, but no guarantees. It depends on how many units they have to sell, multiplied by the average cost per unit. One buyer said that cost per unit is probably well over 1 million this year. It's likely the second most expensive show to buy after the Superbowl. The American Idol finale may have surpassed it as numero dos.
01/10/08 TVBR #6

As promised:
FCC under investigation
The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations has initiated its look at processes at the Kevin Martin FCC, as promised. In a letter to Martin, it said document request would be coming soon, and that it wants all FCC employees to be on notice that their testimony may be required. It also asked that all paper and electronic documentation in existence at this moment be preserved pending the document request.

TVBR observation: This investigation figures to center on charges that lobbyists have far greater access to the Commission than do advocacy groups, and address reports that lobbyists have at times been tipped off about upcoming FCC actions; complaints, principally from the Democratic commissioners, that they are often out of the loop when certain actions are being prepped, have inadequate access to FCC resources, and are not given enough time to fully study issues before they are put forth for a vote; and that documentation is both initiated to arrive at a preordained conclusion, or suppressed if it fails to support a preordained conclusion. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out, with the easing of top-20 market cross-ownership restrictions and a national election looming large in the background.
01/10/08 TVBR #6

Goldman Sachs
predicts 2008 recession
Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs told clients that it expects the US economy to drop into recession this year. Its prediction is that unemployment will rise to 6.5% and that the fed will cut rates by an additional 1.75 percentage points to try to spur growth. Goldman Sachs Sr. Economist Ed McKelvey expects, though, that the recession, which may have already arrived, will be relative short. "The recession is likely to last two to three quarters and should be relatively mild by historical standards,..
01/10/08 TVBR #6

Emmis meets radio expectations - and that ain't good
"I think this is probably the bottom," Emmis Communications CEO Jeff Smulyan told analysts after calling this the worst point in the history of the radio industry.
01/10/08 RBR #6


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