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April 2008 Archives

Miley's Photo Shoot: No Apology Necessary

April 30, 2008 12:08 PM

Fifteen-year-old Miley Cyrus, the billion-dollar baby of Disney’s “Hannah Montana” franchise, is on the hot seat for posing semi-nude for Vanity Fair magazine.

What is the big deal? I saw the Annie Leibovitz photo of Cyrus that showed only her bare back, with the rest of her body gracefully wrapped in a sheet. I call that art.

According to published reports, parents with 6- to 14-year-old daughters are up in arms over the photos because Cyrus is supposed to be a squeaky-clean role model and a haven of safety for children.

The Vanity Fair article quotes Cyrus as saying the photo “wasn’t in a skanky way.” However, later, her handlers issued a statement from her saying she was embarrassed and that she apologized to her fans.

Does she have anything to apologize about? I hardly think so.

Oxygen Targets ‘Generation O’

April 24, 2008 12:18 PM

Interesting, and possibly risky, rebranding effort for Oxygen, the women’s cable network now owned by NBC Universal.

The new branding effort is aimed at the 18-34 demo, or “Generation O,” as the network defines the younger strata of its audience, which spans the 18 to 49 age spread.

So what are Generation O’s? According to Oxygen, they are “trenders, spenders and recommenders.” That’s got to resonate with Madison Avenue media buyers in quest of the holy grail: younger viewers.

But could that buzzword Generation O actually backfire?

Health care experts and pediatricians actually define Generation O as Generation Obese, consisting of fat youngsters in the nation.

Who knew? Apparently, Oxygen did not.

Broadcast Nets Dancing in the Past

April 23, 2008 12:31 PM

It came as absolutely no surprise to me that “The CBS Evening News,” anchored by Katie Couric, hit its ratings low last week, attracting only 5.39 million viewers, according to Nielsen.

Forget about Katie Couric. She’s not the problem. The concept of a broadcast network evening newscast is just so passe. When was the last time you watched any of them, let alone recorded a newscast for later viewing?

I don’t even remember what time any of them air because, like most people, I get my news online or on cable nets whenever I feel like it.

The broadcast networks are broken because they are reluctant to part with old traditions. They’d be better off programming the hour with syndicated fare because newscasts are no longer the great lead-ins to access and prime-time viewing that they once were.

Or heaven forbid, switch out the network news with another reality-based show. How do you like my idea “Dancing in the Past”?

Viewers Blast ABC’s ‘Gotcha’ Debate, But They Watched

April 18, 2008 10:26 AM

I just knew yesterday when I got that email blast from the liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org that ABC would pay in the headlines today. (MoveOn supports Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama and not his opponent Hillary Clinton.)

Press coverage today was indeed highly critical of the way ABC’s Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos led a debate between Democratic hopefuls Clinton and Obama on Wednesday.

ABC News’ Web site was jammed with comments highly critical of the “gotcha” style of the first 45 minutes of the two-hour debate. The moderators focused on Obama’s link to Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his more recent comments about rural Americans using guns and religion as crutches.

Clinton didn’t fare any better, being constantly reminded of her false campaign claim that she was under fire in Bosnia while first lady.

Frankly, by the time the questioning moved on to more pertinent issues like the economy and the war in Iraq, I was surfing elsewhere.

Did you watch? Do you think ABC’s two moderators were out of control? I do.

But it doesn’t matter. Wednesday’s ABC debate was the most-watched of this political race, attracting 10.7 million viewers according to Nielsen Media Research.

So expect to see more of the same in upcoming debates.

Clearance Sale for Media Stocks

April 16, 2008 11:52 AM

Caught sight of my favorite media analyst, Pali Research’s Rich Greenfield, on CNBC and he did not disappoint.

He’s kind of like Mikey, the kid in the old TV spot for Life cereal who hates everything. True to form, he bashed just about all companies in the sector, saying there’s a “clearance sale for media stocks.”

But there are seemingly no takers, with much of the sector flat at best. Greenfield said CBS, which was trading at $21.55 a share when I checked, should go out and buy a cable network and start growing something.

Why bother? Discovery Holdings Corp., with its stable of branded networks, isn’t doing that much better, trading at $21.66.

Investors want growth stocks and there aren’t any in media. The real growth, no pun intended, is in fertilizer. Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan was on fire today, trading at $195.87, up another 12% today.

And that’s why I, like Greenfield, can say I never met a media stock I liked.

Have you?

‘No Ink Is Good Ink’ at Cablevision

April 11, 2008 1:10 PM

If various published reports are true, the editors and reporters at Tribune-owned Newsday have to be leaping for joy, hearing today that Cablevision Systems Inc., the multiple-system cable provider in its own back yard, is not interested in acquiring the newspaper.

Newsday business and sports reporters have long had their tussles covering this highly guarded MSO. Indeed, any reporter having to cover Cablevision is very used to the typical “no comment” response even to the most benign questions.

All found that cold-shoulder response strange, given that Cablevision long ago launched its very popular local “News Channel 12,” and should know about the give-and-take involved in running a newsgathering organization.

I knew a fellow journalist who briefly took a job in the communications department at Cablevision. He said it was like wearing handcuffs and that the company’s philosophy was “no ink is good ink.” He left and ran back to the not-so-lucrative world of journalism.

Why is it that television newsgathering organizations are so tight-lipped when the tables are turned and they have to answer rather than ask the questions?

A Great Day to Be a Couch Potato

April 9, 2008 1:32 PM

One of the biggest stories on cable news networks today was American Airlines’ grounding of 1,000 flights, which stemmed from an FAA mandate demanding inspection of the airline’s workhorse fleet, the MD-80.

The problem and the news coverage ramped up during the day. The footage of stranded passengers at airports, scrambling to make other plans, was a scene many of us have been part of ourselves.

And for once this couch potato was just a voyeur and not a participant.

The trouble began Tuesday afternoon when American grounded 460 flights. By this morning, that number grew to 800 canceled flights and by 1 p.m. the number of grounded flights escalated to more than 1,000.

If you missed the story and plan to fly American tomorrow, consider bagging your plans, as the delays are expected to expand into Thursday.

Or should you? I often wonder if cable news nets over-hype stories like this or actually provide solid service journalism.

I ask because last Thanksgiving, we drove to Chicago rather than fly, our decision based largely on countless news stories predicting very bad weather that would cripple O’Hare Airport.

Guess what? It wasn’t at all.

NBC Gets It Half Right, But Mostly Wrong

April 3, 2008 12:09 PM

Borrowing a page from cable, the broadcast Peacock network will stagger new shows throughout the year including summer, instead of waiting for the traditional fall premiere window.

That’s the half-right part.

The half-wrong part is the mish-mash of programming slated to appear on NBC’s so-called 65-week schedule. At best, this lineup is a working mess in progress.

Not surprisingly, NBC will borrow some successful hits from its more successful cable sibling USA, including “Psych,” “Nashville Star” and “Monk.” That makes sense.

But new content includes adaptations of foreign series and, yes, more cheap reality fare.

To dig a potentially deeper hole for itself, the fourth-place network will air more family-oriented programming, including a revival of “Knight Rider” and a new show about Robinson Crusoe.

NBC honchos said there was plenty of wiggle room in the schedule. So how will already apathetic NBC viewers build loyalty to anything if shows come and go, as they will, at the first sign of trouble?