Hollywood wants Bush on its side
The Hollywood community is urging President George W. Bush to oppose legislation offered by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., that could result in a government crackdown on companies that market violent, sexually explicit and profane movies, music and video games to kids. The senator and his supporters are particularly concerned about television ads for gratuitously violent or racy movies and games as well as radio or TV ads for music with profane and misogynous lyrics.
In a July 2 letter, the nonprofit Creative Coalition, a Hollywood group, asked the president to resist Sen. Lieberman’s recent appeal for the administration to back his bill. “We believe that entertainers, parents and lawmakers should work in concert to curb the marketing of entertainment to our country’s young people,” said coalition President William Baldwin. But he added that Sen. Lieberman’s approach “sets a dangerous precedent” of government oversight of creative material.
Mr. Baldwin noted that the entertainment industry has made several voluntary changes to its marketing practices, but the lawmaker has said those adjustments don’t go far enough. Sen. Lieberman and his supporters insist the bill is designed to ensure that Hollywood studios and other companies uphold their own marketing policies and does not amount to censorship.
Soap fans showing their age: On Madison Avenue, the soap bubble has burst. That’s the word from the MindShare Consumer Insight Group, which reports that when it comes to advertising’s long love affair with daytime dramatic serials, a k a afternoon soap operas, an “identity crisis for advertisers” is at hand.
Formerly, the soaps were viewed as the easiest way for advertisers to reach young women age 18 to 49, but in the past decade the median age of soaps’ female viewers has risen an average of 7 years. In fact, the audience for ABC’s “Love in the Afternoon” soap block has aged 9 years in the past decade, while CBS’s soaps all have median viewership ages over 50. As a result, if an advertiser were to place one announcement into every half-hour of serial programming 10 years ago, roughly 82 women 18 to 49 gross rating points could be achieved in any given day, said MindShare. Run the same plan today and you would find that the number almost halves itself to approximately 42 GRPs for women 18 to 49. One notable exception to the graying of the soap set is NBC’s “Passions,” pitched to teens and other young viewers. Its audience has a median age of 36, according to MindShare.
FCC ordered to exempt public broadcasters from required bidding: The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington Tuesday ordered the Federal Communications Commission to vacate rules that require public broadcasters to participate in auctions when they apply for station licenses in nonreserved spectrum. The agency exempts public broadcasters from bidding on licenses for spectrum that is reserved for them.
National Public Radio, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and America’s Public Television Stations, the industry’s lobbying arm, had challenged the section of the FCC’s rules requiring the bidding. In its decision, the court said the FCC’s rules conflict with an existing law requiring the agency to exempt public broadcasters from bidding for any channel, reserved or unreserved.
Though the court did not specify a remand to the FCC, a source said the agency will now have to establish new rules-such as a regime for comparative hearings-governing the awarding of the affected licenses. The ruling mostly impacts NPR, which has many radio stations and FM translators on nonreserved spectrum. It also impacts many public TV translators, some of which are being forced to relocate during the transition to digital, but few public TV channels are affected.
Martin sworn in at FCC: Kevin Martin, one of three new regulators recently appointed to the Federal Communications Commission, was sworn in Tuesday for a term that runs to June 30, 2006. Mr. Martin, who fills a Republican seat, faced a delay of several weeks to begin his new job because of a paperwork mix-up. Until recently he was a special assistant to President Bush for economic policy.
BayTV to shut down this month: BayTV, the San Francisco 24-hour news cable channel co-owned by AT&T and Young Broadcasting, will shut down on July 31, putting 44 staffers out of work. AT&T Broadband will replace BayTV with the Food Network. The news channel, which began in 1994, was seen in 1.4 million homes in the Bay area.
NBC reality shows win key demos despite ratings slides: NBC’s summer splash in alternative/reality programming may be losing some of its steam, but its “Fear Factor” and “Weakest Link” programs still managed to top their time periods this week by handsome margins in the key young adult demos. However, “Fear” and “Link” are down by double-digit percentages over the last four weeks, according to comparable Nielsen Media Research fast national data.
“Fear Factor” posted a 4.6 rating/16 share in adults 18 to 49 from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. (ET) Monday, beating CBS’s second-place repeats of “King of Queens” (2.7/10) and “Yes, Dear” (2.7/8) by 70 percent margins. However, “Fear Factor’s” adults 18 to 49 score has registered 12 percent erosion from its June 11 premiere average (5.1/17) while its latest household (6.4/12) and total viewer tallies (10 million) are down 13 percent and 15 percent, respectively, indicating slippage in the older demos.
In adults 18 to 49, “Fear Factor’s” 5.3/19 average is holding even with the premiere score. NBC’s 9 p.m.-to-10 p.m. “Weakest Link” improved on its lead-in by 9 percent in adults 18 to 49 (5.0/15) and by 2 percent in adults 18 to 34 (5.4/17). Nevertheless, “Link” is down about 15 percent and 10 percent, respectively, from its averages four weeks ago in adults 18 to 49 (5.9/16) and adults 18 to 34 (6.0/19). NBC’s flurry of summer reality series (including “Spy TV” on Tuesdays and Thursdays) had the network winning the week of June 25 in adults 18 to 49 (3.0/12) and adults 18 to 34 (2.7/10), marking the fifth consecutive week of the summer that the Peacock Network has won in both demos.
‘NBC Nightly News’ hits ratings low: “NBC Nightly News” dropped to its lowest-ever rating (6.0) for the week of June 25 to 29. Those results left “ABC World News Tonight” in first place with an average of 8.35 million viewers (flat compared with the previous week), followed by “Nightly” with an average of 8.06 million viewers (down 3 percent) and “CBS Evening News” (7.4 million viewers, down 6 percent).
‘Good Morning America’ hires head writer: “Good Morning America” has filled its long-vacant head writer position with Matt Ellis, most recently the news director at WPRI-TV, Clear Channel’s CBS affiliate in Providence, R.I. The ABC morning show also has hired a new line producer, Albert Lewitin, most recently of WCBS-TV, New York.
Kids WB! to stage ‘Spooky Sleepover’: R.L. Stine, the best-selling author whose books are the inspiration for the “Goosebumps” TV series, will serve as host of the first-ever “Kids’ WB Spooky Sleepover” from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) Friday, July 13, and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 14, on the Kids’ WB network.
During the Friday afternoon block, Mr. Stine will begin reading the “scary-fun” story “The Haunted Sleepover,” which follows a superstitious kid named Brian who invites his friends over for a typical sleepover party. Kid viewers can then go online (to KidsWB.com) to choose their favorite frightening conclusion, which Mr. Stine will reveal within the Kids WB’s Saturday morning lineup.
As part of an old/new media promotional and programming scheme, “The Kids’ WB Spooky Sleepover” Web page will have activities and games for kids to create their own “spooky sleepover” at home. Kids can create their own “The Nightmare Room” bookmarks, decorations and masks along with “Boo Not Disturb” door hangers and “Bedstone Epitaphs.”
Time Warner eyes commercial voice-over-IP debut: Pleased by the performance of a voice-over-Internet-protocol service that Time Warner Cable is testing in Portland, Maine and Rochester, N.Y., spokesman Mike Luftman
said the company is “hoping commercially deployable equipment might be ready as early as next year.”#
(c) Copyright 2001 by Crain Communications
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