Levin hints at retirement
AOL Time Warner CEO Jerry Levin said he intends to retire “at the appropriate time,” which he said would be after he feels the America Online and Time Warner cultures, synergies and strategic visions are fully meshed. “You will not have to carry me out,” Mr. Levin said today at the Salomon Smith Barney-Broadcasting & Cable Big Picture conference in New York.
Broadcasters upset at campaign finance reform bill: As expected, the Senate last night passed the controversial McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill, which includes a requirement that broadcasters offer politicians television ad time at rock-bottom rates. The vote was 59 to 41. But the measure faces an uncertain future, given that the House would still have to pass its own version. If that occurs, lawmakers will have to hash out any differences between the bills in a House-Senate conference. If the legislation survives all that-and there are certain to be efforts to kill or weaken it-the final conference version would have to be passed by both chambers, said Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott,
R-Miss. Next, President Bush would have to sign it into law.
The National Association of Broadcasters, which was dealt a huge setback when New Jersey’s senators added language effectively reducing the rates broadcasters can charge candidates for ad time, opposes McCain-Feingold. “Cheaper rates translate into more ads purchased, more political ad clutter and more campaign spending, not less. The amendment is also patently unconstitutional,” the NAB said.
AOL Time Warner to invest in Oxygen: AOL Time Warner will make an equity investment in Oxygen and has signed a multiyear agreement to make the network available to 10 million predominantly analog subscribers by the third quarter of 2002 on Time Warner Cable, the nation’s second-largest cable operator. The agreement builds on the relationship that began in 1998, when America Online became one of Oxygen’s first investors.
CBS tosses ‘Apple’: As expected, CBS has pulled the plug on “Big Apple” after five airings on two nights. Starting April 19, CBS will return newsmagazine “48 Hours” to the 10 p.m.-to-11 p.m. (ET) Thursday slot, with “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” temporarily filling the time period April 12.”Big Apple” was pulled off the schedule after hitting 10 p.m. Thursday series lows in adults 18 to 49 (2.6 rating/7 share) and total viewers (7.5 million) in addition to dropping 30 percent or more of its “CSI” lead-in.
Green light for ‘Walk’: Tribune Entertainment Co. has formally declared its planned fall 2001 relationship strip “Talk or Walk” a “firm go” after tallying TV station sales in more than 154 markets representing 92 percent U.S. broadcast coverage. Hosted by relationship specialist and author Michael Baisden, the reality strip has been cleared in 48 of the top 50 markets, largely due to it being sold to the major-market Tribune Broadcasting station group.
NBC joins family forum: NBC has officially become the fourth broadcast network to join the year-old Family Friendly Programming Forum’s script development initiative for the 2001-02 season. Joining previous participating networks The WB, CBS and ABC, NBC will also take part in receiving seed money from the forum to develop new, so-called “family-friendly,” scripts.