Briefly Noted

Apr 23, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Yahoo! CEO search ends as Semel chosen
Terry Semel, the former longtime co-chief of Warner Bros. was named chairman and CEO of Yahoo! last week. 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.
On March 7, Yahoo’s then-Chairman and CEO Tim Koogle announced he was stepping down, and at that time the company began a search for his replacement. Mr. Semel assumes his new post May 1. At that time Mr. Koogle will become vice chairman. Yahoo! said Mr. Koogle would step down from that post in August but remain a member of the company’s board of directors. Mr. Semel was with Warner Bros. for 24 years. Along with partner Robert Daly, he helped transform the studio into a multibillion-dollar entertainment conglomerate.
HDTV on deck at baseball All-Star Game
Major League Baseball will be holding talks at the National Association of Broadcasters convention to decide whether to produce the first world’s first high-definition television feed of the All-Star Game. Timing of such an event is optimal, since it will be hosted by the Seattle Mariners’ Safeco Field, which is wired for HDTV. The Ackerley Group of TV stations has been contracted to send HDTV feeds to Japanese broadcaster NHK, which has deals for all 81 of the Seattle Mariners home games. All Mobile Video’s trucks will provide HDTV feeds for the month of May.
The meetings at NAB will include All Mobile Video, NMT (which is advising Ackerley on its HDTV feeds) and NHK. The determining factors, MLB spokesman Russell Gabay said, will be cost, ability to up-convert certain National Television Standards Committee feeds from Fox, other engineering considerations and getting everything set up in time. “We’re trying to figure out the logistics to avoid a potential nightmare,” Mr. Gabay said. He said MLB should have a decision whether to go HD by mid-May.
`Weakest Link’ connects with audience
She might not be every critic’s darling, but “Weakest Link’s“ acerbic British host Anne Robinson helped bring one-time reality wallflower NBC some eye-popping debut ratings last week. “Weakest Link” proved to be the strongest link in NBC’s first half-week schedule, with its 7.9 rating/21 share in adults 18 to 49 at 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. (ET) April 18, marking 34 percent growth from its 8 p.m. April 16 premiere (5.9/16), according to Nielsen Media Research national data.
Over the same span, “Weakest Link’s” final April 18 numbers in men 18 to 49 (7.4/20) and women 18 to 49 (8.3/22) sported 37 percent and 30 percent growth curves, respectively, from its initial debut. Similarly, “Link’s” household (11.7/20) and total-viewer (17.4 million) averages copped respective 19 percent and 16 percent increases.
Mitch Metcalf, NBC’s senior vice president of program planning and scheduling, said Nielsen data showed that 52.4 million “unduplicated” viewers watched all or part of “Weakest Link’s” three-day run. The show returns to its normal 8 p.m.-to-9 p.m. slot Monday.

Mr. Metcalf, along with NBC Studios President Ted Harbert, said “Link’s” 7.6 rating average among adults 18 to 49 in homes of $75,000-plus incomes scored a 119 index on Tuesday, which pertains to a 19 percent increase over the 6.4 rating for the demo for all income levels.
Retro ads to run during `That ’70s Show’
Fox’s “That `70s Show” is going to be flashing back to the “Me Decade” by airing some of the most memorable original commercials from the 1970s within an original episode to air at 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (ET) Tuesday, May 1. All of the “retro commercials”-which will include classics from Volkswagen, Coca-Cola, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Dr. Pepper and Excedrin-were bought as normal national spot placements within the half-hour Fox comedy hit, according to a “That `70s Show” publicist.
In another interesting twist on product placement, one of the retro commercials is incorporated into the episode when Eric catches a Volkswagen commercial from 1977 while watching “Get Smart” in the family basement.
MSTV may create high-definition tech center
The board of the Association of Maximum Service Television was scheduled Sunday to consider a series of proposals to create a technology center for the broadcast industry to improve the U.S. digital TV standard and its capabilities. Greg Schmidt, MSTV co-president, said the effort comes at a time when broadcasters are feeling a financial pinch. “But everybody also knows that if we don’t push forward now to make the DTV standard better, we’ll pay an even heavier price in the future,” Mr. Schmidt said.