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August 2007 Archives

Do Condom Ads Belong on TV?

August 29, 2007 12:21 PM

Cable Positive’s president and CEO Steve Villano just became a blogger. Cable Positive is a nonprofit organization that raises awareness and money to slow down HIV/AIDS. For his first time out of the gate, he comes out swinging, taking to task CBS and Fox as well as several Cox and Comcast systems for refusing to run an ad from Trojan, entitled “Evolve: Use A Condom.”

He wrote how hypocritical that stand is, given that television airs plenty of programming that is sexually explicit. None of those outlets would even air the spot at late night. And, he added, there was nothing salacious, but only educational about the Trojan ad. I commend his guts. Condoms can help stop the rise of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.

While he certainly won’t lose future funding from CBS and Fox, two broadcast networks, Comcast and Cox might not like being publicly taken to task. You can see what he has to say at http://cablepositive.blogspot.com/

And weigh in here if you think condom ads belong on late night TV or not. My vote is yes.

Oxygen Seeking New Investor

August 28, 2007 10:46 AM

Oxygen Media confirmed today that it is looking for private equity to replace funding from Clarity Partners, a Los Angeles-based private equity investment firm. A source from Clarity said the firm decided to pull the five- year trigger on its “substantial” investment in Oxygen because Clarity doesn’t want to invest in a stand-alone cable network.

Earlier this month, published reports said NBC Universal was interested in buying Oxygen; an Oxygen spokeswoman would not comment on those stories. She did say Oxygen had secured debt financing, but given the conditions in the credit market, Oxygen was considering its options, including seeking a new infusion from a private equity partner.

Oxygen’s other investors are Paul Allen’s Vulcan Ventures, Carsey-Werner, Oprah Winfrey and Time Warner/AOL.

New TV Ads Hype Iraq War

August 24, 2007 12:38 PM

The government has already spent $450 billion on the war in Iraq, and now I read on ABC News Internet Ventures that some former White House and Bush administration officials have created Freedom’s Watch and are spending $15 million for pro-war TV ads.

Former White House press czar Ari Fleischer, who is on the group’s board of directors told ABC News, “There’s been a three-year silence from conservatives and others who believe in peace through strength.” Well, maybe they’ve been quiet because they no longer support a war that has dragged on for four years.

So with most Americans squarely opposed to the war in Iraq, Bush backers are now resorting to the airwaves, spending even more money to boost the President’s unpopular position to stay the course. That’s a slippery slope and could backfire. The notion of the pro-war ads already has me seeing red.

So the question for today is will those pro-war ads change anyone’s minds? I doubt it.

‘Star’ Floats Court TV’s Daytime Boat

August 22, 2007 1:06 PM

Well, the jury is in, or rather the overnight Nielsen numbers are, for Court TV’s debut of “Star Jones.” And the verdict is good for the prosecutor turned TV talk-show host. In its 3 p.m. ET time slot Monday, the premiere attracted some 452,000 total viewers. At first blush that doesn’t look like bragging rights, but remember we’re talking about daytime viewing in the month of August.

Actually, that’s a great number for a daytime premiere airing during the doldrums of August, and it represents substantial growth for the hourlong time period Star now graces. Compared to the prior four weeks for that time slot, total viewers zoomed up by 137 percent. The demos look good too, up 124 percent for adults in the 25-54 demo, and up 105 percent for women 25-54.

Now the big questions are whether that surge is sustainable and if viewers will come back for more. Lots of viewers are schlepping their kids back to college and many are prepping to enjoy the final weeks of summer before the Labor Day weekend. I, for one, plan to goof off as much as possible and check out the Weather Channel for tide and UV reports.

‘Star Jones’: New Litmus Test for Cable Debuts

August 17, 2007 11:58 AM

Got a gut feeling that Court TV’s Aug. 20 premiere of “Star Jones,” even though launching in the dog days of August in the 3 p.m. (EST) slot, will still attract a decent-sized audience. Star, former co-host of “The View,” revealed last month that she underwent tummy-tuck surgery, and hence her drastic weight loss.

And the voyeurs out there will be tuning in to see what she looks like now. Hopefully they’ll actually be listening to what this talented attorney turned talk show host actually has to say to her guests on topics ranging from pop culture, current affairs, and of course, crime and justice. That’s a lot of turf to cover but Court’s afternoon day part needs a boost and Star sure could sure shake things up.

Cable nets traditionally do well when they launch new series in summer, to counter program broadcasters that are by and large airing reruns. But that’s primetime. Can an afternoon cable premiere bring in the eyeballs and advertisers? So weigh in here with your two cents.

Comcast Blows Off First Responders in Michigan

August 10, 2007 3:54 PM

Shame on them. Something just hit my desk today, which really ticked me off. Comcast, the nation’s largest cable provider, is cutting off its free cable service to police and fire stations throughout the state of Michigan, according to a PR Newswire story today. The hubris is beyond belief.

Michigan was one of several states to enact statewide franchises and apparently, there are some unintended consequences as local municipalities got cut out of the game. So here’s what happened. Comcast wrote a letter to Michigan regulators basically saying that it would no longer provide complimentary service across the state to police and fire departments. This is the dumbest thing I’ve seen in ages.

That’s largely because the state enacted a statewide law that cut off local authorities from regulating cable, and now Comcast seems to think it has the liberty to ignore many of its existing agreements to the locals.

We already know that Comcast and other large multiple system operators want to get out of PEG (public, educational government) commitments. I’ve seen it here where I live. But this move with first responders is beyond my comprehension.

So weigh in, is Comcast getting a little heady here?

New Yorker Trashes Lifetime

August 8, 2007 1:26 PM

Whew. Sure the folks at Lifetime TV are not too happy about “Women’s Work,” a review of the cable net which appears in the upcoming Aug. 13th issue of The New Yorker. Writer Nancy Franklin doesn’t hold back her dislike for just about everything on the channel, including its new hit series “Army Wives.”

“Yes, I’m hard on Lifetime, but that’s because its failings call attention not to what it has but to what it lacks: balls,” she wrote.

So don’t miss this two-page diatribe. It’s definitely over the edge. But heck, it’s The New Yorker and not Entertainment Weekly.

‘Why Bridges Collapse’

August 7, 2007 2:53 PM

A day after last week’s bridge collapse in Minneapolis, the History Channel ran a special “Why Bridges Collapse,” that documented some of the worst bridge related disasters in American history. I just stumbled on it, because there was no on-air promotion for a special that ran at 10 p.m. (E.S.T) following the tragedy the day before. There was no time to promote the show.

History was smart and lucky. In its archives it already had a documentary on the shelves, outlining the history of bridge collapses in the country. And smart because the channel moved quickly, obtaining fresh coverage from CBS news and quickly cut and spliced the existing footage with news coverage to create one of the scariest programs I have ever seen that attracted 1.1 million viewers.

Bottom line: Don’t let your bridge phobic pals know about this show. It will totally freak them out. So what’s next for the History Channel: Perhaps a special on coal mine accidents, like the current headline grabber in Utah where people remain trapped? Not in the cards, for now, said a net spokesperson.