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Apr 17, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Yahoo! taps Warner Bros. vet Semel

Terry Semel, the former longtime co-chief of Warner Bros., has been named chairman and CEO of Yahoo!

To the surprise of many in Silicon Valley, Yahoo! had narrowed its search to a group of executives seasoned in “old” or traditional media, as first reported by Electronic Media (April 9).

Besides Mr. Semel, Yahoo! had contacted Jeff Bewkes, CEO of HBO; Tom Evans, CEO of OfficialPayments.com (and the erstwhile CEO of GeoCities and a former publisher of U.S. News & World Report); Michael Lynton, president of AOL International (and the former president of both Hollywood Pictures and Disney Publishing, Magazines and Books); Tom Rogers, CEO of Primedia; Jeff Sagansky, president and CEO of Pax TV; Scott Sassa, president of NBC Entertainment; and Strauss Zelnick, former CEO of BMG North America.

Mr. Semel assumes his new post May 1.

‘Link’ forges strong ratings: Thanks to hype in advance of its series premiere last night, British game show import “Weakest Link” turned out to be the strongest link in NBC’s once-disappointing Monday evening. In the show’s debut, acerbic host Anne Robinson powered NBC to its first 8 p.m.-to-9 p.m. (ET) Monday win in the hour since March 15, 1999, when “Suddenly Susan” and “Caroline in the City” aired in the time period.

For the 8 p.m. hour-typically one of the most competitive time slots of the week-“Weakest Link’s” 5.7 rating/16 share average marked 73 percent improvement over what “Dateline” averaged (3.3/10) in the time period in the previous week, according to comparable Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data.

Most startling is the unproven game show’s 27 percent victory margin over CBS’s comedies “King of Queens” and “Yes, Dear,” which averaged a 4.5/12 for the hour. That cushion grew to 35 percent and 119 percent margins, respectively, over Fox’s “Boston Public” (4.2/12) and ABC’s “David Blaine: Frozen in Time” magic special (2.6/7).

TV Land in new territory with dual feed: TV Land is on a growth spurt. Now available in more than 60 million U.S. homes, it will launch a dual feed June 1 (which means prime time will play in prime time on both the East and West coasts), has its own sales force and is coming off its highest-delivery quarter ever (an average of 340,000 homes).

TV Land is, in the words of MTV Networks Chairman and CEO Tom Freston, a “major growth engine” that connects the organization to an audience with which MTV is not often identified, conceded Mr. Freston: “adults … actual adults.”

The network will mark its fifth anniversary on the weekend of May 12-13, when its lineup will offer a best-of series of TV Land programming.

‘Crier’ to broadcast from execution site: Beginning May 14, Court TV’s “Catherine Crier Live” will be broadcasting nightly live from Terre Haute, Ind., the site of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh’s execution May 16.