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Apr 24, 2001  •  Post A Comment

FTC gives Hollywood mixed reviews

A report issued today by the Federal Trade Commission blasts film studios for advertising violent R-rated movies during television programs popular with teens a little more than six months after the agency blew the whistle on Hollywood’s marketing of grisly content to kids. Overall, the FTC said the movie industry-which adopted new marketing policies in the wake of a larger FTC report on media violence in September-has made “positive changes.”

The Motion Picture Association of America was encouraged by the broader, more upbeat assessment, with President and CEO Jack Valenti responding: “It confirms the efficiency of our swift actions. The MPAA 12-point set of initiatives has been implemented and is working, with some minor adjustments still to be made.” But the FTC didn’t let Hollywood off the hook. It expressed concern not only about the R-rated movie ads but over the fact they contain film ratings and content descriptions that are “small, fleeting or inconspicuously placed.” It said studios routinely advertise R-rated films during syndicated TV shows airing between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. that are popular with kids under 17.

Fox subsidiary might become equity partner in UPN: Viacom officials said today they are in discussions with News Corp. about its Fox Entertainment subsidiary becoming an equity partner in UPN. News Corp. recently agreed to a five-year extension of the UPN affiliation of the Chris-Craft Industries television stations it will acquire this summer. On the economic front, Viacom President and CEO Mel Karmazin said, “If there is a recession, we’re not going to be there.” He made his comments to investors today after Viacom reported better-than-expected pro-forma first-quarter earnings of $1.15 billion, up 15 percent from a year ago, on a 6 percent rise in revenues to $5.8 billion. Mr. Karmazin said the company “conservatively” will seek high-single-digit price increases in the upfront advertising market and would like to see as much as 80 percent of CBS’s inventory sold. But he is prepared to hold back as much as half of the company’s inventory if necessary to get the best price in scatter.

Powell suggests FCC will kill ownership cap: If the courts don’t kill the national TV station ownership cap, the Federal Communications Commission probably will. At least that was the message FCC Chairman Michael Powell had for the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas this morning.

“I make no secret that I am skeptical, generally … of these straight prophylactic prohibitions on ownership or reach,” Mr. Powell said.

The cap at issue bars broadcasters from reaching more than 35 percent of the nation’s TV homes. It has the strong support of the nation’s network TV affiliates and the NAB. But the major networks want to ax the regulation-and CBS, Fox Broadcasting Co. and NBC have bailed out of NAB because the organization is lobbying for the regulation.

MacVicar joining CNN: CNN has signaled its intent to reach for the journalism stars with the hiring of the highly regarded and well-traveled Sheila MacVicar as a London-based correspondent. Ms. MacVicar fell victim to ABC News’ cost-cutting earlier this year. “ABC News’ loss is our gain,” said Eason Jordan, president of news gathering for CNN.