Feb 12, 2016
2:23 pm

Station Merger Gets Go-Ahead — With Strings Attached (TVNewsCheck)

A media acquisition that was approved by the Justice Department in December has cleared another hurdle, with the FCC giving its OK today. The proposed deal has Gray Television acquiring Schurz Communications’ TV and radio stations for $442.5 million, TVNewsCheck reports.

“In an 11-page letter released today, the FCC told Gray that it granted the applications to purchase the TV stations, granting some waivers of local ownership rules in five markets, but denying it a waiver to continue a JSA in Wichita-Hutchinson, Kan.,” the story reports.

In the Wichita-Hutchinson market, Schurz owns KWCH, KSCW and three satellite stations. The report notes that the agency “granted Gray’s request for a ‘failing station waiver’ so that it could acquire KSCW and approved the takeover the satellites. However, it did not grant Gray’s request for a waiver of the JSA between KWCH and Entravision-owned KDCU.”

The panel gave Gray one year to terminate the KDCU-DT JSA or find another way to come into compliance with FCC rules.

gray television-logo

Feb 12, 2016
1:56 pm

ESPN and Popular Commentator Hit With Lawsuit (USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, ESPN)

Sports commentator Stephen A. Smith and ESPN have been hit with a lawsuit over an episode of “First Take” that aired about a year ago in connection with a Little League scandal. USA Today reports that parents and coaches associated with the Chicago-based Jackie Robinson West Little League filed the suit Thursday alleging defamation and false light.

The “First Take” report discusses an incident in which people behind the league were accused of manipulating residency requirements to enable ineligible players to participate. The league was stripped of its Little League Baseball U.S. championship as part of the fallout from the scandal.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports: “The story of the all-black JRW team’s journey from the South Side of Chicago to the world championship game captivated the nation in the summer of 2014, but the story unfolding behind the scenes had few heroes, according to the lawsuit filed Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court.”

In the “First Take” coverage, USA Today reports, “Smith eviscerated the Jackie Robinson West leaders, going so far as to intimate that he was ashamed a league named after Jackie Robinson would have perpetrated fraudulent roster manipulation. According to the suit filed in Cook County court in Illinois, Smith ‘directly accused the JRW parents of perpetrating a fraud against the Little League.’”

The lawsuit was filed by the parents of 13 players, including two parents who were coaches with the league. The suit “also brings claims against Little League itself, the Chicago-area whistleblower who initially reported the league for its residency manipulation and a former official of the Jackie Robinson West league,” USA Today notes.

Here’s a report on the Little League scandal that aired about a year ago on ESPN …

Feb 12, 2016
11:51 am

NBC Series Renewed for 51st Season (TVWeek, Variety)

An NBC series that is a television institution after a half-century on the air was just picked up for its 51st season. The show is “Days of Our Lives,” one of only a handful of daytime soaps to survive as long as it has.

The drama series, which debuted on NBC in September 1965, has aired well over 12,000 episodes. The one-year renewal will take the show to 2017, with NBC holding the option of an additional year.

In announcing the renewal, Jennifer Salke, President, NBC Entertainment, said: “NBC is incredibly proud of the legacy of ‘Days of our Lives’ and we couldn’t be more excited to bring its fans new stories for the 51st season. In a business where having a show remain on the air for two seasons is considered a success, what ‘Days’ has achieved is extraordinary.”

Variety notes that “Days” in season 50 is averaging a 0.90 rating and 6 share in women 18-49 with 2.901 million viewers overall in “most current” ratings, based on Nielsen data.

days of our lives-season 50

Feb 12, 2016
11:44 am

CBS Scraps Project in Co-Production Rift (Deadline)

CBS has pulled the plug on a new drama project just days after ordering it to pilot. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that the crime drama from “Burn Notice” creator Matt Nix and “Black Box” creator Amy Holden Jones was a casualty of 20th Century Fox TV and CBS TV Studios’ inability to come to terms on a co-production arrangement.

The project originally had a put pilot commitment with a large penalty, Andreeva notes, and on Tuesday was reportedly ordered to pilot — contingent on an agreement between the two studios.

Andreeva reports: “While the two sides had already laid the groundwork with a general consensus for a co-production, I hear they ultimately could not reach an agreement on some issues, and the project, which had been gearing up for pre-production, is now dead.”

CBS Television Studios-CBS TV Studios

Feb 12, 2016
11:27 am

Fox Greenlights ‘Lethal Weapon’ TV Adaptation, Has Star Lined Up (Variety)

Fox ordered a TV project based on the “Lethal Weapon” feature franchise, and has actor Damon Wayans Sr. lined up to play Roger Murtaugh, who was played by Danny Glover in the four “Lethal Weapon” movies.

Variety reports that the project received a formal pilot order from Fox.

“Fox’s ‘Lethal Weapon’ will follow a Texas cop and former Navy SEAL Martin Riggs (yet to be cast) who suffers the loss of his wife and baby and moves to Los Angeles to start anew,” Variety reports. “There, he gets partnered with LAPD detective Roger Murtaugh (Wayans Sr.), who, having recently suffered a ‘minor’ heart attack, must avoid any stress in his life.”

The original 1987 movie and its three sequels featured “buddy cop” story lines pairing Glover’s Murtaugh with Mel Gibson as Martin Riggs.

lethal weapon-movie poster-1987

Feb 12, 2016
11:19 am

CBS Takes Hit Daytime Show to Prime Time (TVWeek)

CBS is bringing one of its franchise shows — network television’s No. 1 daytime series — to prime time. The network today announced plans to air three special prime-time editions of “The Price Is Right.”

The venerable game show, hosted by Drew Carey, will celebrate three other CBS franchise shows, with the special themed episodes of “Price Is Right” dedicated to the reality staples “The Amazing Race,” “Survivor” and “Big Brother.”

CBS reality hosts Phil Keoghan, Jeff Probst and Julie Chen will appear during the special run. “In each prime-time special, former racers, castaways and houseguests will partner with and play alongside super fans of their respective shows,” CBS says in its announcement.

The new season of the 10-time Emmy Award-winning “The Amazing Race” premieres tonight, Friday, Feb. 12. “Survivor” is due back Wednesday, Feb. 17, with a 90-minute season premiere. The summer hit “Big Brother” returns later this year.

“The Price Is Right” first aired on U.S. TV in 1956 and has aired in several incarnations, including runs on NBC and ABC. The current CBS version dates back to 1972, with Bob Barker hosting the show from its inception until Carey took over in 2007.

the price is right-drew carey

Feb 12, 2016
11:11 am

Is This the Future of Home Entertainment? Watch the Video (YouTube)

An innovative new device promises to transform the home entertainment experience into something resembling a high-tech amusement park ride. The device, Immersit, is installed under your couch and generates a range of movements aimed at bringing the viewer into the action.

Check out the video …

Feb 12, 2016
9:44 am

TVWeek’s Presidents’ Day Holiday Schedule (TVWeek)

The folks here at TVWeek are off this coming Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, for Presidents’ Day and will not publish our e-newsletters that day.

As always, we will continue to let you know about breaking news through our TVWeek EXTRA alerts.

We will be back with our full complement of services on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016.

Happy Valentine’s Day and have a wonderful — and safe — holiday weekend!

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Feb 12, 2016
9:31 am

Streaming Service Falls Short of Expectations (Bloomberg)

Over-the-top streaming packages remain all the rage as the TV model evolves, but at least one service has fallen well short of expectations in terms of subscribers.

Bloomberg reports that Time Warner Inc.’s HBO Now streaming service has reached 800,000 subscribers, nowhere near the 1.4 million predicted by at least one analyst. “HBO, which hadn’t previously disclosed the number of Now subscribers, has been expanding the $15-a-month Web service to compete against Netflix, Hulu and Amazon,” Bloomberg notes. “Barton Crockett, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets & Co, had estimated that HBO Now had gained 1.4 million subscribers.”

Richard Plepler, HBO’s CEO, gave a status update on HBO Now on a conference call this week, noting that the service has yet to come online on Sony PlayStation and Microsoft XBox, and has yet to introduce new content from Jon Stewart and others. Plepler indicated that the service will be marketed more aggressively this year.

hbo now

Feb 12, 2016
8:44 am

AMC Prequel ‘Better Call Saul’ Gets Something ‘Breaking Bad’ Had (TVWeek)

“Better Call Saul,” AMC’s prequel to its groundbreaking, critically acclaimed “Breaking Bad,” is following in that show’s footsteps by getting its own live aftershow. The cable channel announced plans today for “Talking Saul,” which will air after the season two premiere of “Better Call Saul” on Monday, Feb. 15, and after the season finale on Monday, April 18.

The hourlong show will be hosted by Chris Hardwick, and will feature cast members, producers and celebrity fans discussing the show.

Hardwick also hosted “Talking Bad,” the live “Breaking Bad” aftershow that aired eight episodes in 2013, during “Breaking Bad’s” fifth and final season.

Scheduled guests for the first episode of “Talking Saul” include “Better Call Saul” creators and executive producers Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould and star Bob Odenkirk.

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