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Sep 24, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Kent to leave Charter Communications

Jerry Kent, president and CEO of Charter Communications, the nation’s fourth-largest multiple system operator, has resigned from his positions and his seat on the board of directors and will sell his interests in the company to Paul Allen, the board’s chairman. An informed Charter official agreed that Mr. Kent’s departure was both sudden and unexpected.

Mr. Kent operated under an employment contract with Charter that was renewed automatically unless Mr. Kent advised the company during an annual 90-day window that he did not want it to be renewed. That is the step that Mr. Kent has taken, according to a Charter spokesman.

Mr. Kent, who has been CEO since 1999, co-founded Charter Investments, predecessor to the current company, in 1993. His current employment contract runs until Dec. 23. In a statement, Mr. Kent called his decision not to renew “gut-wrenching.” In that same statement, Mr. Allen saluted Mr. Kent’s contribution and said the board would move “as quickly as practical” to select a new CEO.

St. Louis-based Charter reaches nearly 7 million homes across 40 states and is widely regarded as one of the technological leaders of the cable industry, with a significant investment in digital and broadband technology, particularly in video-on-demand and high-speed data services. Mr. Kent also served as chairman at this year’s NCTA convention, held this past June in Chicago, where the focus was squarely on the industry’s multibillion-dollar digital transformation.

In fiscal year 2000, Mr. Kent earned nearly $2.4 million in pay, of which $1.25 million was salary and $1 million was a bonus.

Mr. Kent will remain as a consultant to Charter until the end of the year.

“Miss America” pageant pulls in 13 million viewers: With the patriotic spirit running rampant in light the recent terrorist attacks on America, it seemed logical that ABC’s telecast of the “Miss America” pageant swept up households and adults 18 to 49 demographics ratings wins last Saturday night. Hosted by Tony Danza, the three-hour telethon (8 to 11 p.m., ET) posted an 8.7 rating/15 share household average and a 3.7/11 in adults 18 to 49, according to preliminary Nielsen Media Research fast national data. In all, 13.4 million total viewers tuned in to the pageant, which bestowed Miss Oregon, Katie Harmon, as the new Miss America.

ABC scored an across-the-board victory as well in adults 18 to 34 (3.5/13), adults 25 to 54 (4.4/12), teens 12 to 17 (2.6/12) and children 2 to 11 (2.3/9). In fact during primetime, the “Miss America” telecast boosted ABC to a 5.9 million viewer advantage and a 19 percent lead in adults 18 to 49 over second-place Fox’s “Cops” and “America’s Most Wanted” prime time lineup (7.6 million viewers, 3.1/10 in adults 18 to 49).

Additionally, “Miss America” attracted ABC’s largest Saturday night audience since January 29, 2000 and delivered the network its best adult 18 to 49 rating on the night since April 7, 2001. “Miss America also grew 7 percent in total viewers (13.5 million vs. 12.6 million) and 10 percent among adults 25 to 54 (4.4/12 vs. 4.0/11) from the previous year’s delivery.

WB and TNT team up on benefit concert: In another sign of synergy between the AOL Time Warner-owned networks, The WB Network is joining TNT in a simultaneous broadcast of benefit concert special “Come Together: A Night of John Lennon’s Words & Music,” live from New York’s Radio City Music Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 2 (8 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET).

Actor Kevin Spacey will host the two-hour event billed as “a concert of prayer and healing” for New York City to benefit relief efforts in the wake of the terrorist attacks Sept. 11,. Scheduled performers include Dave Matthews, Moby, Stone Temple Pilots, Nelly Furtado, Shelby Lynne, Alanis Morissette, Cyndi Lauper, The Isley Brothers, Lou Reed, Marc Anthony, Yolanda Adams and others to be named later.

Viewers of the telecast will be asked to go to www.Helping.org to make donations, which will benefit a wide array of relief funds. A spokesman for The WB said there are no plans to graphically list an toll-free phone number to solicit donations during the broadcast.

Benefactors of the event include the American Red Cross, The Sept. 11 Fund, International Association of Fire Fighters, New York Fraternal Order of Police WTC Fund, The National Organization for Victim Assistance, and The Twin Towers Fund in addition to the Violence Policy Center, The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence united with the Million Mom March.

“Come Together” is being produced for TNT by Ken Ehrlich Productions. Yoko Ono Lennon and Ken Ehrlich are executive producers, and Sandy Shapiro is executive producer for TNT.

Telethon nabs 59.3 million total viewers: Friday night’s unprecedented 30-network simulcast of “America: A Tribute to Heroes” drew 59.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research national data. The telethon bagged 38.4 million households en route to posting a “sum average” 38.3 rating/65 share household score during the 9 p.m.-to-11 p.m. (ET) telecast.

Nielsen estimated that the “unduplicated” audience, which includes all the viewers who sampled at least six minutes of the telecast on the participating networks, totaled 89.06 million viewers and 62.03 million households. The two-hour commercial-free telethon was aired live to the Eastern, Central and Mountain time zones and was taped-delayed in the Pacific time zone.

The participating networks whose audiences were included in this figure were ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, UPN, The WB, Pax, PBS, BET, Comedy Central, Court TV, Discovery, E! Entertainment, F/X, Family Channel, Hallmark, HBO, Lifetime, MTV, Sci-Fi, Showtime, The Learning Channel, TNN, TNT, TV Land, USA Network, VH1, Telemundo, Univision and Galavision.

‘West Wing’ to air special episode addressing terrorism: NBC’s originally scheduled premiere of “The West Wing” (9 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET Wednesdays) will be delayed one week so NBC can present a special episode “dealing with some of the questions and issues currently facing the world in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks on the United States,” the network said.

NBC has now set “The West Wing” season opener for Oct. 3, when it will present an episode called “Isaac and Ishmael” to be penned by the show’s creator and Emmy-winning writer Aaron Sorkin. The new episode has begun production and will be “rapidly advanced” through post-production in time for the Oct. 3 air date, NBC said. The network is not releasing story line details at this time. To make up for the delay of “West Wing’s” season premiere, an encore presentation of the show’s Emmy-winning episode, “In Excelsis Deo,” will air this Wednesday.

Bush speech tallies 82 million viewers: President Bush’s address to a joint session of Congress last Thursday to discuss America’s response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 drew a 82.0 million total viewers, according to final Nielsen Media Research national data. The speech, which aired live from 9 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. (ET), tallied a 50.8 rating/72 share household average and 53.7 million total U.S. households for the nine networks providing coverage, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CNN, CNBC, Headline News, Fox News Channel and MSNBC.

Sunday night network viewership strong: The broadcast networks snapped out of delayed-season doldrums Sunday night as the season premieres of CBS’s “60 Minutes” and “The Education of Max Bickford,” ABC’s special two-hour opener of “The Practice,” and Fox’s broadcast premiere of the movie “Rush Hour,” propelled viewing levels. Fox won prime time (7 p.m. to 10 p.m.) in the key adults 18 to 49 demographic, while ABC took home the overall 7 p.m.-to-11 p.m. rotation Sunday night, according to preliminary Nielsen Media Research fast national data.

CBS started the night on the right foot with the 7 p.m.-to-8 p.m. season opener of “60 Minutes” posting a winning 10.7 rating/17 share in households and second-ranked 3.7/11 in adults 18 to 49. However, a half-hour overrun of Fox’s national NFL match-up of the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers (5.1/15 in adults 18 to 49) and a repeat of “The Simpsons” (4.0/
11) ended up taking the 7 p.m. hour (4.5/13) in the key demo.

Undaunted, though, CBS’s 8 p.m.-to-9 p.m. series premiere of “Max Bickford” grew 19 percent on its lead-in by winning the frame in adults 18 to 49 (4.6/12) and households (11.9/18). “Bickford” also tallied the second-most total viewers (17.8 million), behind only “The Practice’s” 18.0 million tally from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fox hung tough with “Rush Hour” coming in at a second-ranked 4.5/11 average in adult 18 to 49 in the first hour and improving 24 percent to 5.6/12 for the second hour.

ABC’s “The Practice” took over the 9 p.m.-to-11 p.m. frame with wins in adults 18 to 34 (5.5/14), adults 18 to 49 (6.9/15), adults 25 to 54 (8.4/17) and households (11.9/18). “The Practice” also scored a 123 percent increase over the 3.1/8 average its posted in the 7 p.m.-to-9 p.m. frame with the movie presentation of “The Mask.”

After double-run repeats of NBC’s “Will & Grace” in the 8 p.m.-to-9 p.m. hour earned a bottom-ranked 3.3/8 in adults 18 to 49, the network’s 9 p.m.-to-11 p.m. “50 Years of NBC Late Night” did improve 74 percent on its lead-in by posting a second-ranked 5.4/12 in the key demo.

ABC ended up winning 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. in adults 18 to 49 (5.0/12), followed by Fox (4.9/12), NBC (4.2/10) and CBS (3.5/9). HUT levels (homes using television) were at a healthy 64.0 percent for the Big 4 networks. Meanwhile, Fox beat ABC in the 7 p.m.-to-10 p.m. common prime race (4.9/12 vs. 4.2/10), followed by NBC (3.8/9) and CBS (3.7/9).

The official start of the 2001-02 season, postponed a week by Nielsen due to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, gets under way Monday.

(c) Copyright 2001 by Crain Communications