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Feb 28, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Quake postpones CNN’s plans for Shaw tribute

The 6.8 earthquake that rocked the Northwest on Wednesday knocked back plans for CNN to pay tribute on-air to Bernard Shaw, who had long been scheduled to take his leave on Wednesday from the pioneering network where he worked for the past 21 years. Mr. Shaw did get an on-air hug from “Inside Politics” co-anchor Judy Woodruff on Wednesday, but he’ll have to return to CNN’s Washington bureau for the tribute, which is now scheduled to air Friday during the “Politics” time slot.

WB ratings, ad revenue jump: Boasting record ratings in adults 18 to 34 and other gains in all of the key younger adult demographics for the February sweeps, The WB CEO Jamie Kellner predicted that the Frog network will post the largest advertising increases in the scatter and fourth quarter 2001 upfront market in May. With 13 percent and 19 percent year-to-year increases in adults 18 to 49 and 18 to 34 demos, respectively, for the sweeps (with Wednesday being the last day), Mr. Kellner said The WB is tracking 19 percent ad revenue growth for this season.

“I don’t know if any of the other networks can claim that,” Mr. Kellner said. “Despite all of the reports of a softer ad market, we are also selling our scatter inventory for higher prices, which also might be tough for most of the networks to claim. For the last three years, we have had the increases in CPMs [cost-per-thousand rates], and we will sell out our inventory at higher cost-per-point increases than any other networks.”

For its Monday-through-Friday lineup, The WB has indeed increased its ratings in the key young adult demos, with Sunday’s new lineup of urban comedies being a notable exception in terms of bringing in young male viewers at the expense of losing female demos.

Also of interest is that The WB’s double-digit increases in the adults 18 to 49 (1.7 rating/4 share) and adults 18 to 34 (1.9/5) demos have aged the network slightly. Most notably, WB’s teen 12 to 17 demos (2.8/9) dropped 24 percent compared with the year-ago sweeps.

The WB’s median age through the February sweeps is up 4 percent to 29.7 years from 28.5 years of age in the year-ago sweeps, but that is still the lowest of the six broadcast networks. According to WB research, UPN has moved up 12 percent to 33.4 years, followed by Fox’s 34.5 years (flat from year-ago), NBC’s 44.4 years (flat), ABC’s 47.1 years (up 7 percent) and CBS’s 51.6 years (down 4 percent).

“Our shows have aged up a bit, where it’s changed from our characters going to college instead of high schools as our shows progress, so the circulation tends to slightly age up the demos,” Mr. Kellner said. “That is one of the requirements of trying to stay young and turning over the schedule which tends to slightly age up the schedule.”

On the programming front, WB Co-President Jordan Levin announced that midseason animation comedy “The Oblongs” will experience a case of triple-vision-at 7:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. (ET) Sunday, April 1. “The Oblongs,” created by underground San Francisco cartoonist Angus Oblong, will then settle into its normal 8:30 p.m. Sunday slot April 8.

“The Oblongs” replaces the ensemble sketch comedy “Hype,” which Mr. Levin confirmed has been canceled. Also on the endangered list is critically received 9:30 p.m. Sunday comedy “Grosse Pointe,” which, Mr. Jordan said, “barring another kind of unique scheduling opportunity,” makes it a “long shot” for a renewal next season.

Spectrum fees on Bush agenda: President Bush proposed a requirement Wednesday that TV stations pay spectrum fees-at least until they return their analog channels to the government. The fine print in the president’s new budget says the new “analog spectrum lease fee” would raise $200 million a year. A government source said the proposal, which was previously endorsed by the Clinton White House, is intended to encourage broadcasters to make the switch to digital “sooner rather than later.” At deadline, the National Association of Broadcasters, had no comment.

Riordan exiting XFL: Days’ worth of rumors came true Wednesday when the XFL confirmed it is losing its vice president of sales, Bob Riordan. Mr. Riordan, who has not returned repeated calls, will become executive vice president of sales for the College Television Network effective March 11.

When asked last week to respond to the talk that Mr. Riordan was leaving the football league, XFL President Basil DeVito Jr. first joked: “What? He’s going to lunch? It’s noon,” and then labeled the rumors “speculation.”

In a statement from the XFL on Wednesday, Mr. DeVito said XFL sales will continue to be handled by XFL staff under the supervision of Jim Rothschild, senior vice president of sales for World Wrestling Federation Entertainment. WWFE is co-owner with NBC of the league, whose ratings and expectations have grown steadily downhill in the four weeks since it launched.

Since the league started, Honda announced it was pulling out as an advertiser, and the XFL, which controls the inventory and splits the revenue with its TV partners, has begun working with remaining advertisers to get extra runs for free to assure that they get the cumulative ratings they were promised.

NBC syndie unit, Tribune join forces: NBC’s new syndication division will tap Tribune Entertainment to handle barter sales for NBC’s upcoming talk show, the first for the fledgling distributor. Barter rights for NBC Enterprises’ “The Other Half” and “George Michael’s Sports Machine” have been handed to Tribune. Only last month, Tribune picked up barter rights for Hearst Entertainment’s programs.

“The Other Half” is a new hour-long strip hosted by Dick Clark, Danny Bonaduce, Steve Santagati and Dr. Jon Adams. The talk show is cleared in more than 70 percent of the country and is being sold on a 101/2 national/31/2 local split. “George Michael’s Sports Machine” will enter its 18th season and is being offered on a 31/2 national/ 31/2 local split.

Senate digital hearing to be broadcast on Web: Thursday’s hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee on the transition of broadcasters to digital television will be broadcast live on the Internet, panel Chairman Sen John McCain, R-Ariz., announced Wednesday. The full committee hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. (ET) Thursday. The hearing will feature a wide range of witnesses representing industry, consumer interests and think tanks.

A committee aide said Sen. McCain wants to explore if and when the transition will take place and why it’s facing so many obstacles. The first panel will consist of Paxson Communications President and CEO Jeff Sagansky; Ben Tucker, vice president for broadcast operations at Fisher Broadcasting; and Michael Willner, president and CEO of Insight Communications.

The second panel will feature Consumer Federation of America Research Director Dr. Mark Cooper; James Gattuso, vice president, policy and management, at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a watchdog that advocates free enterprise and limited government; Dr. Joseph Kraemer, director of LECG, a consulting firm; and Dr. Tom Hazlett, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute think tank.

CNN adding shows: CNN will add three new shows to its weekend lineup later this year. The shows include “Take Five,” a general talk show hosted by a panel of reporters that premieres in March and covers politics, entertainment and pop culture; “People in the News,” a half-hour news show launching March 31 that is produced in conjunction with Time Inc.’s People magazine; and “CNN Presents,” an hour-long Sunday night documentary series that launches in May.

Oxygen inks deal with NCTC: Oxygen Media signed a cable affiliation deal with the National Cable Television Cooperative, the association that represents independent cable systems serving nearly 13 million cable homes. The “hunting license” agreement opens the door to let Oxygen negotiate individual carriage agreements with NCTC members. Oxygen now reaches an estimated 12 million cable and satellite homes.

Bush speech beats Clinton ratings: President George W. Bush’s first speech to a joint session of Congress
Tuesday night scored broad household increases for the Big 4 broadcast networks compared with President Clinton’s State of the Union address last year.

Over the four broadcast networks-ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC-the speech scored roughly a 25.7 rating/38 share in households from 9 p.m. to 9:59 p.m. (ET), according to Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data. President Bush’s speech is tracking about 14 percent ahead of Clinton’s address last year (22.4/35), which included three other cable networks (CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC) in that average. Preliminary cable ratings were not available at press time.

In the broadcast universe, President Bush’s address averaged 37.2 million viewers and is about 18 percent ahead of last year (31.4 million viewers). However, the first Bush speech is still 42 percent lower in ratings and 44 percent lower in total viewers from President Clinton’s first speech to Congress in 1993, when he scored a 44.3 rating in households and 66.9 million total viewers.

President Bush’s address averaged 37.2 million viewers and is about 18 percent ahead of last year (31.4 million viewers). However, the first Bush speech is still 42 percent lower in ratings and 44 percent lower in total viewers from President Clinton’s first speech to Congress in 1993, when he scored a 44.3 rating in households and 66.9 million total viewers.

Keeping its lead in early evening network news race (6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET), NBC led in the 9 p.m.-to-10 p.m. coverage with a 7.8/12 in households and 11.0 million viewers. CBS, third in the early evening news race, came in a healthy second at a 7.5/11, followed by ABC’s 6.9/10 and Fox’s 3.5/5. Including the post-speech analysis and Democratic response (from 10 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.), ABC came out on top from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. with an 8.0/12, followed by NBC’s 7.2/11 and CBS’s 7.2/11.

President’s speech disrupts schedules: President Bush’s speech Tuesday night caused some severe disruptions to regularly scheduled, scripted series. Most notably, NBC’s move of hour-long comedy block “Frasier” and “Three Sisters” from 9 p.m. to 8 p.m. (ET) caused the sitcoms to drop 41 percent and 38 percent, respectively, week to week in the adults 18 to 49 demographics. But it also left an opening for ABC’s second-to-last episode of “The Mole” and CBS’s “JAG” to mop up in households.

“Frasier’s” 4.4 rating/12 share in adults 18 to 49 Wednesday night led to a 41 percent drop from last week’s 7.5/18 in its normal 9 p.m. start time. “Three Sisters” dropped only 9 percent from its “Frasier” lead-in, but came in fourth at 8:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. with a 4.0/10.

ABC’s “The Mole” won the 8 p.m. hour with a 5.2/14 in adults 18 to 49 (down 4 percent from last week) and finished second with an 8.4/13 in households (up 7 percent week to week). CBS’s “JAG” won the hour in households (10.7/17), but finished fourth in adults 18 to 49 (4.0/10). Fox’s comedy combo of “That ’70s Show” (5.3/14 in adults 18 to 49) and “Titus” (4.8/12) came in second in the key adult demo, but the two sitcoms were down 22 percent and 11 percent, respectively, week to week.

“The Mole” attracted the series’ largest audience (12.9 million total viewers) since its debut episode Jan. 9 and its highest ratings in teens 12 to 17 (4.2/13) and kids 2 to 11 (3.4/12).

Since replacing “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” in the 8 p.m. time period, “The Mole” has increased ABC’s delivery in the hour by 36 percent among adults 18 to 34 (5.7/16 vs. 4.2/13), by 33 percent among women 18 to 34 (6.5/17 vs. 4.9/14), by 37 percent among men 18 to 34 (4.8/14 vs. 3.5/11) and by 30 percent among teens (3.9/12 vs. 3.0/10) this season.

AT&T Broadband, Charter in cable swap: AT&T Broadband and Charter Communications are swapping cable systems in a deal estimated to be worth $1.79 billion and which helps AT&T reduce its debt by $45 million. Under the deal, AT&T gets two of Charter’s Florida cable systems, which serve 62,000 subscribers in Miami Beach and Sebastian, Fla., with an estimated value of $249 million. AT&T also gets $1.04 billion in cash and $500 million in Charter stock. In return, Charter gets AT&T systems serving 574,000 subscribers located in St. Louis, sections of Alabama, California and Nevada.

Brown to be HGTV host: Scripps Networks Home & Garden Television has signed on-air personality Katie Brown to host its new daytime series “Home Workshop With Katie Brown” along with a new prime-time series tentatively titled “The Look.” Ms. Brown will also host prime-time specials for HGTV’s sister network the Food Network.

Pair forecasted to carry Weather spinoff: AT&T Broadband and Cox Communications have signed affiliation agreements to carry the Weather Channel spinoff Weatherscan Local. Both operators will add the 24-hour weather service in several markets.

Pax cable update: Paxson Communications reported that its Pax network added 12.7 million cable subscribers last year.

‘Survivor’ boosts CBS Web site: CBS.com’s online version of “Survivor: The Australian Outback” propelled CBS’s Web site to its highest traffic levels since the show’s premiere Jan. 28. The “Survivor” portion of the network’s Web site has posted more than 60 million page views and more than 350,000 chat-room logins.

PC Data Online reports that traffic on the CBS.com increased more than 500 percent in the series’ first week, from 5.4 million to 27.4 million page views, propelling the average time spent on the site per user to slightly more than 30 minutes. PC Data Online also reports that the Web site’s page views per user have increased every week since the site launched.

FCC hearing set: The House Energy and Commerce Committee, headed by Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., announced late Wednesday afternoon that it will hold a March 29 hearing on restructuring the Federal Communications Commission. The hearing has been dubbed “FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell: Agenda and Plans for Reform of the FCC.” Rep. Tauzin is a strong advocate of revamping the agency and reining in its merger review authority, but he’s also a big backer of Chairman Powell, the son of Secretary of State Colin Powell.

PBS plans terrestrial ITV trial: The Public Broadcasting Service announced trials for the nation’s first digital terrestrial (over-the-air) broadcast of interactive TV enhancements. Scheduled to begin March 27, the program-related enhancements will be encoded and distributed via satellite through PBS to seven member stations: WETA-TV (Washington), KOPB-TV (Portland, Ore.), NJN-TV (New Jersey), MPBC-TV (Lewiston, Maine), TPT-TV, Twin Cities Public Television (St. Paul/Minneapolis), WHYY-TV (Philadelphia) and KQED-TV (San Francisco). Triveni Digital’s SkyScraper data broadcasting systems will be used, and Zenith is supplying the ATVEF-enabled digital television set-top boxes for 100 trial participants across the various markets.

High-definition NCAA games: CBS Television and Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America will sponsor high-definition television coverage of the 2001 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four and Championship games. The games will be broadcast live Saturday, March 31 (5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. ET) and Monday, April 2 (9 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.ET) from the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis.

CNN streaming trials: CNN is partnering with two interactive technology companies to introduce instant full-motion video and audio streaming in banner advertisements on its Web sites for clients on a trial basis. Participating advertisers in the trial include MCI WorldCom, Mydiscountbroker.com and Volvo. Each will be running enhanced streaming banner ads throughout the CNN sites for the duration of the trial, which runs from Thursday through April 15.

Set-top box decline seen: Research firm Strategy Analytics predicts that the growth rate for sales of digital set-top boxes will slide from 54 percent in 2000 to 24 percent in 2001, with the United Kingdom seeing the sharpest decline. The completion of the switchover of British Sky Broadcasting’s 5 million subscribers to digital services is cited as a major reason for slower sales. In the U.S., sales growth for set-tops is expected to decline from 53
percent to 19 percent, as demand for digital satellite systems falls back from its exceptional performance in 2000.#


Paramount Advertiser Services has promoted Jessica Wiener to vice president of sales.#