Affiliate lodges complaint against ABC
ABC affiliate KEZI-TV in Eugene, Ore., has told the Federal Communications Commission that ABC is frustrating the best interests of the station’s viewers by refusing to allow it to start the network’s prime time an hour earlier to accommodate a 10 p.m. local news broadcast. KEZI also said ABC objected when the station attempted to shift network programming to air University of Oregon sports programming and a special on power shortages.
In a recent filing at the FCC, ABC charged that many affiliate pre-emptions are motivated by station financial concerns. But in KEZI’s case, according to the station’s filing at the FCC, it’s ABC that is putting its financial interests above those of Eugene’s TV audience.
“ABC’s only interest is in compelling us to show its national programs when ABC wants them shown — not when local viewers in our market want to watch them,” the station said. At deadline, a spokesman for the network had no comment. KEZI’s complaint comes in response to an affiliate request that the agency investigate efforts by networks to limit the ability of affiliates to pre-empt network programming and other alleged abuses.
Clear Channel Radio adding 500 sales reps: Clear Channel Radio Chief Operating Officer John Hogan said Thursday that he plans to hire 500 new account executives across the company by Oct. 1. According to Mr. Hogan, “The radio business is as good as we make it. There are so many opportunities to sell Clear Channel today that our current group of great sellers cannot cover them all.” Mr. Hogan said the new account executives will work on everything from selling the cluster to selling the format to cross-selling the company’s multiple advertising platforms — radio, TV, entertainment and outdoor.
Starz! doubling Dolby Digital 5.1 transmissions: Premium movie channel Starz!-Encore said Thursday it will double its number of Dolby Digital 5.1 transmissions beginning Monday, Aug. 27, when it adds the Dolby Digital 5.1 signal to its Starz! West feed. The Starz! East feed has featured Dolby Digital 5.1 since June 1999, and with both time zones now sending the signal, the number of monthly Dolby Digital 5.1 transmissions from Starz! will effectively double. Starz! was the first premium movie channel to offer Dolby Digital 5.1 to standard-definition premium-movie-channel viewers.
With this announcement, Starz! continues its leadership role in the digital audio realm. This October, for example, the combined Starz! East and West feeds will offer 232 distinct transmissions of 24 different movie titles in Dolby Digital 5.1. Some of the October titles are “The Cell,” “Godzilla 2000,” “Mission to Mars,” “Nutty Professor II: The Klumps,” “Remember The Titans” and “U-571.”
WWFE slumps in first fiscal quarter: World Wrestling Federation Entertainment reported Thursday that its advertising and pay-per-view dollars dropped sharply in its first fiscal quarter. TV and live event revenues were down 4 percent to $72.4 million compared with $75.2 million in the same quarter of the previous fiscal year. WWFE said ad revenues fell 17 percent, due in part to lower sell-through on “Sunday Night Heat,” which airs on MTV. PPV buys dropped by one-third, with total pay-per-view revenues declining 12 percent quarter to quarter.
Philips joins CMT as senior vice president, GM: Brian Philips has been named senior vice president and general manager of Country Music Television, a cable network owned and operated by MTV Networks. Mr. Philips brings a radio programming background to the new position, coming to CMT from Susquehanna Broadcasting, where he was the director of FM programming for Dallas and Atlanta. During his Dallas tenure, the station was rebranded as “The Wolf” and garnered both high ratings and industry acclaim. “He reinvented the format of country radio, taking KPLX[-FM] in Dallas to No. 1 in the market,” said John Sykes, president of VH1 and CMT, in a statement announcing the appointment.
Excite@Home says auditor switch unrelated to fiscal health: When Excite@Home Corp. announced earlier this week that it was replacing its auditor, Ernst & Young LLP, with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, questions were raised about Excite’s viability. The Wall Street Journal reports, however, that the change was unrelated to the firm’s fiscal status. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said it was switching to standardize its accounting with that of AT&T Corp., its controlling shareholder, whose auditor is PricewaterhouseCoopers. Just days earlier the company said in another filing that it and Ernst & Young had “substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern” as a result of a cash shortage.
Excite@Home said the timing of the filings was a coincidence, and that the company had disclosed as early as June that it planned to change auditors.
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