Jul 2, 2015
9:31 am

Troubled Miss USA Pageant Finds New TV Home (AP, THR)

The Miss USA pageant, which was homeless this week after being dumped by both NBC and Univision, has been rescued by the Reelz Channel, the AP reports.

The report quotes a statement released today by Reelz CEO Stan E. Hubbard saying that the pageant and its contestants “are an integral part of American tradition” and announcing that Reelz will carry the pageant.

Hubbard added: “As one of only a few independent networks, we decided to exercise our own voice and committed ourselves to bringing this pageant to American viewers everywhere.”

The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed notes: “Reelz, owned by Republican donor Hubbard, previously picked up the high-profile ‘The Kennedys’ miniseries after History Channel made the decision to yank it amid controversy, including pressure from the Kennedy family. Producer Joel Surnow told The Hollywood Reporter in 2011 he believed History killed the project because of his conservative political views.”

Reelz reaches about 70 million homes. The statement from Reelz and Hubbard did not mention the controversial remarks by pageant co-owner Donald Trump about Mexicans, which were cited by NBC this week when the network severed ties with the real estate mogul. Trump sparked controversy with the comments during a speech in June kicking of his bid for the GOP presidential nomination.

Trump has filed a $500 million lawsuit against Univision after the Spanish-language network pulled out of the beauty pageant.

“Reelz said the Miss USA pageant will be televised July 12, its originally scheduled date on NBC,” the AP story notes, adding: “The pageant will have to scramble after a mass exodus of performers, hosts and judges who cited opposition to Trump’s views as the reason.”

A rep for rapper Flo Rida, who was reportedly the highest-profile artist scheduled to appear during the Miss USA pageant, confirmed Wednesday that he would not perform. The other two announced performers, country singer and “The Voice” winner Craig Wayne Boyd and pop singer Natalie La Rose, have also pulled out.

reelz channel

Jul 2, 2015
9:17 am

Google Apologizes for Racially Insensitive Label by Photo App (CNET)

Google has issued an apology after its new Photo app mislabeled a photo of two black people, calling them “gorillas,” CNET reports.

“Jacky Alcine, a Web developer who is black, took to Twitter to say Google’s Photo app, released in May, labeled a picture of him and a friend as ‘gorillas,'” the story reports. “The label showed up in a feature that automatically categorizes photos, like cars or beaches, so they are more easily searchable.”

Alcine posted a picture of the mislabeled photo, writing: “My friend’s not a gorilla.”

The company quickly went into damage control. A Google spokeswoman is quoted saying: “We’re appalled and genuinely sorry that this happened. There is still clearly a lot of work to do with automatic image labeling, and we’re looking at how we can prevent these types of mistakes from happening in the future.”

Yonatan Zunger, chief architect of social at Google, offered similar sentiments in a tweet, writing: “Lots of work being done, and lots still to be done. We’re very much on it.”

The CNET report notes: “This isn’t the first time algorithms have messed up in ways people have found offensive. When Yahoo overhauled its Flickr photo storage app in May, the company added similar features that automatically add tags to photos. The algorithm tagged a photo of a black man as an ape, and concentration camp photos got tags like ‘jungle gym’ and ‘sport.'”

google photos app "gorilla" mislabel

Jul 2, 2015
9:07 am

Univision Is Going Public (MarketWatch)

Spanish-language broadcast company Univision Holdings Inc. filed today with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an IPO, MarketWatch reports.

The filing, the initial step in taking the company public, is for an IPO of up to $100 million, a figure that is used to determine registration fees and is likely to change.

“Univision will trade under ticker symbol ‘UVN,’ though the company hasn’t determined if it will list on the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq Global Market,” the story reports, adding: “Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal reported that Univision could raise $1 billion or more in an IPO, valuing the company at as much as $20 billion, according to people familiar with the situation.”


Jul 2, 2015
8:44 am

TV Producer Dies From Knee Surgery — He Had Projects in Development at FX (Variety)

A producer who had been working on a number of projects for FX died in L.A. from complications related to knee replacement surgery.

Variety reports that FX confirmed Wednesday that David Kennedy died June 14. He was 73.

Kennedy was a top talent agent in the 1970s and 1980s before making the transition to producing, Variety notes.

“Kennedy was most recently developing several projects at FX under a first-look deal with FX Prods., including a narrative take on the 2012 AIDS activism documentary ‘How to Survive a Plague,'” the story reports.

Kennedy produced a number of TV movies, including the Emmy-winning 2005 CBS drama “Saving Milly.” He was also behind Showtime’s “Our Fathers.”

Variety notes: “Kennedy spent 12 years as head of TV for ICM, based in New York where he represented such notables as Robin Williams, Lorne Michaels, Eddie Murphy, Dick Clark, Debbie Allen and Joe Piscopo. He segued to the production side with his move west to work as senior VP of programming for Pearson Television and Reg Grundy Prods.”

He was later the president of Dan Curtis Productions. He had been working on a reboot of a Curtis property, “Kolchak: The Night Stalker,” the Variety report notes.

Jul 2, 2015
8:37 am

Most of the Major Cable Nets Posted Viewership Declines in the Second Quarter — Here Are the Five That Bucked the Trend (MediaPost)

The overall trend among major cable networks in the second quarter was a downtrend in total viewership, with only five of the top 20 ad-supported nets posting gains in prime time from a year ago, MediaPost reports, citing Nielsen data.

The article reports: “Those that made improvements included Fox News, up 2% to 1.6 million; HGTV 13% higher to 1.49 million; Discovery, 16% more to 1.42 million; Food Network, adding 5% to 1.07 million; and ID up 8% to 873,000.”

All of the top three nets were down. TNT fell 15% to an average of 2.07 million viewers; USA Network was off 16% with 1.7 million; and TBS dipped 4% to 1.67 million.

A&E Network had an especially steep decline, losing 22% to average 957,000 in prime time.

Overall, 13 networks topped 1 million prime-time viewers, down from 17 nets in the year-ago period.

fox news channel-logo

Jul 2, 2015
8:17 am

Another Casualty at CBS O&O (Adweek)

A major-market CBS owned-and-operated station continues to shed on-air personalities. The latest departure from the news division at Philadelphia station KYW-TV is Carol Erickson, the station’s longtime meteorologist, Adweek reports.

The news follows the departures of Beasley Reece, Kathy Orr and Chris May, which we reported Wednesday.

Erickson broke the news on her Facebook page, writing: “After being offered another contract with CBS3 today — that included another year of winter weather coverage! — I have decided instead to focus my time on what means the most to me — animal welfare. I love CBS3, where I have been since 1978, and thank them for everything! My pet advocacy will continue, and let’s all help CBS3 move the ball forward for a region that is kind to animals and one another.”

The report notes that Ukee Washington will move from mornings to take May’s place, while Kate Bilo is getting Orr’s spot. Other replacements have yet to be named.


Jul 2, 2015
8:01 am

Cable Drama Gets a Sixth Season (TVWeek)

A cable drama series is showing it has legs, with the announcement coming Wednesday that USA Network has renewed “Suits” for a sixth season.

The show, from Universal Cable Productions, is only a week into its fifth season, with the season premiere delivering 3.4 million total viewers in Live+3 data.

USA ordered a 16-episode sixth season.

Chris McCumber, President of USA Network, said in a statement: “’Suits’ has set the bar high in every way and continues to be a strong performer and marquee property for USA. From the incredible on-screen performances and brilliant writing to the aspirational lifestyle portrayed, we look forward to continuing to bring viewers into the world of ‘Suits’ every week.”

The program airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m.

Please click here for details.


Jul 2, 2015
7:49 am

BBC Cuts More Than 1,000 Jobs — Is the Prime Minister Making Good on His Threat? (Deadline)

The BBC announced that it will cut more than 1,000 jobs as part of a restructuring, with a $234 million gap forecast for 2016-2017 in license fee income, Deadline.com reports.

BBC Director General Tony Hall announced the moves, saying in a statement: “A simpler, leaner, BBC is the right thing to do and it can also help us meet the financial challenges we face. We’ve already significantly cut the costs of running the BBC, but in times of very tough choices we need to focus on what really matters — delivering outstanding programs and content for all our audiences.”

The Deadline report notes that the announcement follows gains by Britain’s Conservative government in the May general elections, which fueled speculation about what Prime Minister David Cameron intended to do with the BBC.

“BBC political editor Nick Robinson has revealed that Cameron threatened/joked with reporters while on a campaign bus that he was ‘going to close them down after the election,'” Deadline notes. “Though believed to have been made in jest, the threat of closure was an ominous harbinger of what lies ahead for the BBC.”

The revenue gap is being attributed to market conditions similar to what’s going on in the U.S. The shortfall “has been blamed on more people using iPlayer, mobiles and online catch-up, leading to an unexpected fall in the the number of households owning televisions,” the report notes.

But a key difference between the U.S. and U.K. TV markets is that households in the U.K. are required to pay a fee of about $250 per year to help fund the pubcaster.

Deadline notes: “The pubcaster has been under pressure to find alternative ways to fund its operations. Earlier this year, a report from the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee said that the TV license is ‘becoming harder and harder to justify.’”


Jul 1, 2015
1:44 pm

CBS and AT&T Reach Accord on Carriage (Variety, TVWeek)

CBS and AT&T have come to terms on a deal to extend their carriage agreement. The companies issued a brief statement that reads:

“AT&T and CBS have reached an agreement to continue our long-standing relationship, which includes carrying the CBS Owned TV Stations, Showtime Channels, CBS Sports Network, Smithsonian Channel, and Pop (launching in 2016) on AT&T U-verse. Ultimately, we both want to provide our customers with the shows they want, when and how they care to watch.”

Variety reports that the accord followed a long night of negotiations.

“CBS’ talks with AT&T went down to the wire on Tuesday night as the sides faced a midnight expiration of CBS’ existing contract,” Variety reports. “CBS has been pushing hard for fee increases on retransmission consent deals for its 29 TV stations as it has promised investors that the company will rep $2 billion annually in retrans revenue by 2020. CBS is said to have pushed for fees of $2 a sub in its most recent round of retrans negotiations.”

Jul 1, 2015
1:37 pm

Attack on Internet Cables Prompts FBI Investigation, Stokes Fears of Coordinated Attack (USA Today, Time)

The FBI is investigating a series of attacks on fiber-optic cables that disrupted Internet service this week in the San Francisco Bay Area, USA Today reports.

The latest attacks brought the total in the past year to at least 11 in the area, prompting fears of a coordinated attack that could cripple Internet infrastructure.

“The FBI is asking for the public’s help in solving the attacks and preventing more,” USA Today reports. “FBI agents say whoever cut the cables has tools and equipment necessary to enter underground cable vaults and slice through protective conduit.”

JJ Thompson, CEO of the security consulting and services provider Rook Security, says the pattern of the attacks is disturbing. “When it’s situations that are scattered all in one geography, that raises the possibility that they are testing out capabilities, response times and impact,” Thompson is quoted saying. “That is a security person’s nightmare.”

The report notes: “In April 2009, underground fiber-optic cables in California were cut at four sites, knocking out landlines, cellphones and Internet service for tens of thousands in Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties.”

A report by Time magazine adds: “The latest attack, which happened at 4.20 a.m. PT on Tuesday, was particularly alarming as it appeared to have been a concerted strike on three Internet cables belonging to wholesalers Level 3 and Zayo. The result was a huge outage for those living in and around Sacramento for a good part of the day. According to Wave Broadband, an Internet provider to the area, service was restored by 11.40 p.m. on Tuesday evening.”


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