Mar 23, 2017
5:21 pm

Raycom Accuses AT&T of Using Blackout to Drive Customers to DirecTV (TVWeek)

Raycom ratcheted up the rhetoric in its feud with AT&T U-verse, accusing AT&T of using a blackout strategically, leaving Raycom Media stations in 23 markets blacked out.

Raycom released a statement saying: “AT&T U-Verse has not restored Raycom Media stations to their lineup in 23 local markets. The stations were dropped from local service as of 11:59pm Eastern Time on March 15, 2017. This disruption of service with Raycom Media represents the fifth time that AT&T U-Verse has had a disruption of service with broadcasters since their merger with DirecTV. Prior to the AT&T merger with DirecTV, AT&T U-Verse had no signal disruptions during retransmission negotiations.”

The statement adds: “AT&T U-Verse, now combined with DirecTV, appears to be using programming disruptions as an opportunity to switch AT&T U-Verse customers to its DirecTV service. When disgruntled AT&T U-Verse subscribers call to lodge a complaint, they are offered a subscription with DirecTV, the very same company as AT&T. In some instances, subscribers are also pushed to DIRECTV NOW, a service that in many markets does not carry any local broadcast affiliates: a zero-sum game for subscribers.”

In the statement, Pat LaPlatney, Raycom Media President and CEO, says: “Maintaining our connection to our local communities is always the goal in our negotiations. Raycom Media offered 3 extensions through this negotiation process in an effort to continue our negotiations without affecting our viewers on the AT&T U-Verse system. In the last 3 years, Raycom Media has successfully negotiated retransmission consent agreements with 99.5% of operators without an interruption in service. It’s difficult to negotiate an agreement if that is not part of the AT&T U-Verse business plan.”

AT&T responded with a statement saying: “Raycom Media determines whether or not its stations remain in our U-verse customers’ lineups. We have asked Raycom numerous times to leave their stations up, and once they took them down, to put them back up. We have offered to compensate Raycom — even when out of contract — for events like the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament where a program of key interest is at risk. Our challenge to Raycom stands — put your local stations back on and we will compensate you while we work privately to settle this issue. It’s also important for our customers to know that — other than Raycom — we have no other blackouts across the 21 states U-verse serves.”

Mar 23, 2017
3:57 pm

Iguana Steals the Spotlight From Tennis Stars at the Miami Open (TVWeek, ATP Tour)

A tennis match between Tommy Haas and Jiri Vesely at the Miami Open was disrupted Wednesday by an iguana that appeared to want to watch the match and then put up a struggle when it was asked to leave the court.

For a while the iguana kept an eye on the action from a perch atop the scoreboard — and Haas seized the opportunity to take a selfie with the creature.

The ATP Tour posted a video of the incident — check it out …

Mar 23, 2017
3:44 pm

New Jersey Lawmakers Pass Bill Inspired by Reality Star ‘Snooki’ (AP)

A state measure inspired by former “Jersey Shore” star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi is headed to Gov. Chris Christie’s desk after the state Assembly passed the measure, the AP reports. The measure caps the amount public universities in the state can pay to speakers.

“The Democrat-controlled Assembly unanimously passed the legislation to cap the spending of state money at $10,000,” the AP reports. “The legislation is now up for consideration by Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who has disparaged the MTV reality show as bad for the state’s image.”

The report adds: “Republican Assemblyman John DiMaio said he was inspired to write the measure after Snooki was paid $32,000 collected from student fees to speak at a student event at Rutgers University in 2011. Snooki’s pay was $2,000 more than Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison received to speak at commencement.”

Mar 23, 2017
3:31 pm

Report: Colbert Is Going After Fallon’s Younger Viewers (NY Post, CBS)

Stephen Colbert’s CBS late-night show has been beating Jimmy Fallon’s NBC show in total viewers, but The New York Post’s Page Six reports that Colbert also has his sights set on being No. 1 in the 18-49 demo, where Fallon’s “Tonight Show” remains the late-night leader.

The Post quotes a source saying of Colbert: “He loves the headlines. He went from underdog to beating Fallon, so of course he’s enjoying it. He’s now so desperate to take over the ‘key demographic’ that he brought back an old character — his [Comedy Central] ‘conservative pundit colleague’ — to compete.”

The report notes that the recent resurgence of Colbert’s “Late Show” has been attributed to his political satire, which has “forced Fallon to topically tweak ‘The Tonight Show.’” But people at “Tonight” are reportedly expecting the Trump mania that has fueled Colbert’s numbers to fade.

The report quotes a source saying: “Trump fatigue has set in, so it’ll be interesting to see how long Colbert can ride that wave.”

Mar 23, 2017
2:01 pm

CBS Renews 18 Shows (TVWeek)

CBS gave early renewals today to much of its prime-time lineup for the 2017-2018 broadcast season, announcing pickups for 18 shows.

Included in the renewals announced today are five freshman shows: “Bull,” “Kevin Can Wait,” “MacGyver,” “Man with a Plan” and “Superior Donuts.”

Renewals for “The Big Bang Theory” and “NCIS” were previously announced.

Other shows included in today’s renewals are “Blue Bloods,” “Hawaii Five-0,” “Life in Pieces,” “Madam Secretary,” “Mom,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “NCIS: New Orleans,” “Scorpion,” “Survivor,” “48 Hours” and “60 Minutes.”

“The shows renewed to date include 6 comedies, 9 dramas, 1 reality series, 2 newsmagazines and a roster of hit programs across every night of the week,” the network noted in its announcement. “They also include the #1 scripted program/comedy ‘The Big Bang Theory,’ the #1 drama ‘NCIS,’ the #1 new series ‘Bull,’ the #1 new comedy ‘Kevin Can Wait’ and the #1 newsmagazine ’60 Minutes.'”

CBS noted that it will finish the current TV season as the most watched network for the 14th time in 15 years. The network will unveil its fall schedule May 17.

“Superior Donuts” (CBS)


Mar 23, 2017
12:57 pm

Everyone’s In an Uproar About Kristi Yamaguchi’s Tweet to Nancy Kerrigan — Except Nancy Kerrigan (Twitter, TVWeek)

It was at the very least a poor choice of words, but figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi apparently meant well when she sent a tweet to Nancy Kerrigan to cheer her on as Kerrigan approached her debut on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”

Yamaguchi tweeted: “So excited for you @NancyAKerrigan ! Can’t wait to see you grace that ballroom floor, break a leg! #DWTS”

It was the “break a leg” part that got the most attention, bringing to mind among some social media users the infamous incident back in 1994 when Kerrigan was clubbed in the knee — an incident that was eventually tied to associates of Kerrigan’s skating rival Tonya Harding.

The usual proclamations of outrage on Twitter and other sites followed. One user tweeted: “Kristi Yamaguchi told Nancy Kerrigan to “Break a leg!” on #DWTS and that’s the level of petty I aspire to be.”

But Kerrigan responded to Yamaguchi with a couple of tweets of her own, and no mention of the “break a leg” comment. Kerrigan’s focus was mainly on getting her grammar right and getting used to her new contact lenses …

Mar 23, 2017
12:51 pm

HBO Books Final Season for Acclaimed Drama Series (TVWeek, HBO)

HBO announced details today about the endgame for a drama series that has been a hit with critics and has won a Peabody Award. The pay-cable network will roll out the third and final season of “The Leftovers” starting April 16.

The series from Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta has been nominated for a string of Critics Choice Television Awards, including a win for Best Actress for Carrie Coon in 2016. Other cast members include Justin Theroux, Christopher Eccleston and Regina King — all of whom have received Critics Choice nominations. Amy Brenneman and Liv Tyler are also in the lineup.

The final season will consist of eight episodes, and HBO has unveiled details about all of them except the series finale. Click here to see the episode descriptions and dates, along with other details about the series.

Mar 23, 2017
12:44 pm

Disney CEO Signs Extension (NY Times)

Amid concerns that The Walt Disney Co. may need extra time to find a suitable replacement, CEO Robert Iger has signed an extension that will keep him on the job until July 2019.

The New York Times notes that the extension pushes back Iger’s retirement — which had already been pushed back previously — by another year.

The move reflects “a continuing streak of success at the world’s largest entertainment company but also the lack of a clear successor,” The Times notes.

In a statement, Orin C. Smith, Disney’s lead independent director, said: “It is obvious that the company and its shareholders will be best served by his continued leadership as the board conducts the robust process of identifying a successor and ensuring a smooth transition.” Smith noted Iger’s “record of success in a changing media landscape, and his clear strategic vision for Disney’s future.”

The Times adds: “Under the contract extension, Mr. Iger’s compensation will be determined on the same basis as before, according to a securities filing. But the new deal provides for a $5 million bonus if he completes the term. He will also remain close to the company after stepping down: The extension calls for him to serve as a consultant for three additional years, with pay of $2 million for each of the first two and $1 million for the third.”

Iger is 66.

Mar 23, 2017
11:44 am

Fox Unveils Prime-Time Schedule (TVWeek)

Fox took the wraps off its prime-time schedule for summer 2017, including the new shows “Love Connection,” “Beat Shazam,” “Superhuman” and “The F Word with Gordon Ramsay.”

“Love Connection,” hosted by Andy Cohen, and “Beat Shazam,” hosted by Jamie Foxx, both premiere Thursday, May 25. The new live Gordon Ramsay show premieres Wednesday, May 31, leading out from the season eight premiere of “MasterChef.”

“American Grit,” hosted by John Cena, returns Sunday, June 11.

“Superhuman” premieres Monday, June 12, leading out from the season premiere of “So You Think You Can Dance.”

Fox also has the 2017 Miss USA pageant scheduled for Sunday, May 14.

Click here to see the full schedule of premiere dates, along with details about all the shows.

Mar 23, 2017
11:31 am

Huge Marketer Rethinking Its Global Media Planning — to the Tune of $2 Billion (MediaPost)

One of the largest marketers in the world has launched a review of its global media planning and buying. MediaPost reports that AB InBev, the brewer of Budweiser, Corona, Stella Artois and other brands, is inviting the six major holding companies to put together pitches for its business.

“The brewer spends upwards of $2 billion a year on ads annually in more than 50 countries around the world,” MediaPost notes. “In the U.S. the company spent an estimated $624 million on ads in 2015 and about $695 million from January through November 2016 according to Kantar Media.”

Strategic consulting firm MediaLink and media auditor Mediapath are helping out with the review.

“Globally, AB InBev’s current roster of shops includes eight media agencies from the six major groups (WPP, Publicis, Omnicom, Interpublic, Havas and Dentsu) including MediaCom in the U.S.,” MediaPost notes.

The move comes after AB InBev’s $100-plus billion merger with SABMiller late last year.

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