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Sep 25, 2001  •  Post A Comment

War coverage rules to be released soon

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters Tuesday that he has reviewed proposals from Torie Clarke, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, governing media coverage of the impending war on terrorism. He said the new rules would be released very soon. Journalists are concerned the restrictions will be onerous, especially given that the anti-terror effort will feature extensive use of covert operations. Meanwhile, Barbara Cochran, president of the Radio-Television News Directors Association, sent a Sept. 24 letter to Mr. Rumsfeld urging him to “grant access as broadly as possible to the news media tasked to cover the military.” She recommended that the Pentagon continue to support nine principles governing combat news coverage adopted by the military and journalists following the Gulf War. Those principles include the dismantling of pools as early as possible, usually within 24 to 36 hours after a conflict begins; allowing journalists to ride on military vehicles and aircraft whenever possible; and allowing access for journalists to all military units. Lt. Col. George Rhynedance of the Pentagon’s public affairs office said Tuesday that it’s likely the Pentagon’s newest rules will closely track the nine principles. “Everything we do in the military is learned from lessons from the past,” he said.

Loesch leaving Crown Media: Margaret Loesch, founding president and CEO of Crown Media United States, which operates the Hallmark Channel, will depart the company next month at the conclusion of her present three-year contract. She will be replaced by Lana E. Corbi, currently chief operating officer of parent company Crown Media Holdings.

Ms. Loesch’s departure comes less than two months after Crown’s Odyssey Network was rebranded and relaunched as the Hallmark Channel in early August with a national cable universe of approximately 31.5 million subscribers. The Hallmark Channel, devoted to entertainment suitable for both adults 18 to 54 and their children, shed its Odyssey Network name to better draw on the brand equity of the Hallmark name — and particularly on its treasure trove of Hallmark Hall of Fame and Hallmark Entertainment programming, Ms. Loesch told Electronic Media at the time.

According to a Crown spokesman, Ms. Loesch’s departure is “amicable,” and is taking place because she wants to “take a little break” and spend more time with her family. Ms. Loesch told Electronic Media that she has been in discussions with David Evans, president and CEO of Crown Media Holdings, about leaving since last May. She was in New York for the events of Sept. 11, she said, and watched from Hallmark’s midtown Manhattan offices as the World Trade Center towers collapsed. While not a “trigger” for her decision to leave, Ms. Loesch said, the terrorist attack confirmed to her that taking a break from the business was the right move. She said she expects her “break” to last until the end of the year.

Ms. Loesch also said that the soft upfront market played no part in her decision to leave, that in fact Hallmark’s performance was a “bright light” in a dismal marketplace and that the channel’s upfront revenues had “solidly increased” over last year.

Syndicated ‘Hughleys’ takes early clearances: Twentieth Television has secured early clearances for upcoming off-net runs of “The Hughleys” for a fall 2002 launch. The strip has now been cleared on 55 stations representing 65 percent of the country, including each of the top 10 markets. Among the stations now set to air the series next season will be the WNYW-TV/WWOR-TV duopoly in New York as well as the KTTV/KCOP-TV duopoly in Los Angeles. Others include WCIU-TV in Chicago, WPSG-TV in Philadelphia and WSBK-TV in Boston.

Off-net ‘Raymond’ raking in viewers: Love was in the air for stations debuting off-net runs of King World Productions’ “Everybody Loves Raymond” as preliminary metered market numbers showed the series bowing with the highest rookie numbers so far this season at a 3.6 rating and 6 share. That figure is on par with its lead-in and off 5 percent from ratings the same period last year. The series airs in access in 48 of the top 50 markets. The strip earned a 4.7/8 on WPIX.

Other rookies saw increases over their debuts a week ago. Twentieth Television’s “Texas Justice” rose 11 percent from its debut to a 2.0/6, and Pearson Television’s “Card Sharks” rose 13 percent to a 0.9/3. Among off-net freshmen, Columbia TriStar Television Distribution’s “Just Shoot Me” grew 11 percent over its off-net debut to a 2.1/4 while “Steve Harvey” grew 8 percent to a 1.4/3.

CBS, ABC neck-in-neck on first night of new season: According to preliminary Nielsen Media Research fast national data, CBS held a very close, second-ranked position Monday night in adults 18 to 49 and households to ABC’s lineup featuring “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and “Monday Night Football.” Monday night was recognized by Nielsen as the start of the 2001-02 season. CBS’s two-hour comedy lineup got off to a strong start, except for the 9:30 p.m. (ET) special preview of “The Ellen Show,” which dropped almost one-third of its plumb “Everybody Loves Raymond” lead-in.

CBS comedies “King of Queens” (6.3 rating/17 share in adults 18 to 49), “Yes, Dear” (6.2/15) and “Everybody Loves Raymond” (8.0/18) won their time periods in the key demo. However, “The Ellen Show,” which returns this Friday to its regular 8 p.m.-to-8:30 p.m. time slot, slid 28 percent from its lead-in by entering into a second-place tie with “Dateline NBC” (both at 5.8/13 averages) for the 9:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. frame last night. The dropoff for the Ellen DeGeneres-led sitcom is cause for some concern, with CBS having difficulty planting 8 p.m. Friday sitcoms for the last 46 years.

Ratings were a bit more mixed for Fox, NBC and ABC during the 8 p.m.-to-10 p.m. frames last night.

“Weakest Link,” featuring the cast of “The Brady Bunch” series as contestants, turned in a second-ranked 4.8/12 in adults 18 to 49 but did realize 23 percent growth from the first to second half-hour (4.3/12 vs. 5.3/13). “Millionaire” was a third-ranked 4.0/10 for the 8 p.m. hour but also experienced 16 percent half-hour growth (3.6/10 vs. 4.3/11). Fox’s two-hour special “Who Wants to Be a Princess?” posted a fourth-ranked 2.9//7 in adults 18 to 49 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. but also exhibited 64 percent growth from its first half-hour to last half-hour (2.2/6 vs. 3.6/8).

Although fast national data is not an accurate guide for live event programming, ABC’s “Monday Night Football” posted a top-ranked 7.0/16 in adults 18 to 49 and 11.9/18 in households (representing 17.4 million total viewers) for the 9 p.m.-to-11 p.m. portion of the game. Peaking at a 7.8/18 in adults 18 to 49 during the 10 p.m.-to-10:30 p.m. frame, “MNF,” featuring the Green Bay Packers blowing out the Washington Redskins 37-0, dropped 12 percent in last half-hour (6.9/18).

Meanwhile, NBC’s series premiere of “Crossing Jordan” posted a second-ranked 6.0/13 in adults 18 to 49 for the 10 p.m. hour but dropped 6 percent from its opening half-hour (6.2/15 vs. 5.8/15). CBS’s “Family Law” turned in a somewhat disappointing, third-ranked 3.6/9 in the key demo and slid 48 percent from the previous hour’s lead-in (6.9/14).

Thanks to “Monday Night Football,” ABC held a 7 percent edge in adults 18 to 49 (6.0/14) for the night against CBS (5.6/13), but final national Nielsen numbers could markedly re-adjust that order of finish — depending on the lopsided nature of football game. Meanwhile, NBC came in a somewhat typical third in adults 18 to 49 (5.4/13), but appeared to improve its position on the night.

The opening of the fourth season of “7th Heaven” got off to a promising start for The WB Monday night, but “Angel” — moving from Tuesday to the family show’s 9 p.m. lead-out — dropped more than half of its audience. At 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., “7th Heaven” posted a 7.4 rating/11 share in Nielsen Media Research’s metered markets, equaling its strongest season-opening ratings from the start of the 1999-2000 season. It was also 7 percent ahead of last season’s debut (6.9/10).

owever, the move of “Angel” had it posting a 4.2/6 in the 9 p.m.-to-10 p.m. frame, off 57 percent from its “7th Heaven lead-in. On the plus side, though, “Angel’s” performance was about equal to last season’s opener with “Roswell” (4.3/6), which, like “Buffy, The Vampire Slayer,” is moving over to UPN’s Tuesday lineup this fall.

Speaking of UPN, its Monday night comedy lineup — “The Hughleys” (3.4/5), “One on One” (3.7/5), “The Parkers” (3.6/5) and “Girlfriends” (3.7/5) — performed at typical metered market levels.

‘Survivor: Africa’ contestants revealed: CBS has unveiled the identities of the 16 participants in “Survivor: Africa,” which will make its debut on the network Thursday, Oct. 11 (8 p.m. to 9 p.m. ET). In a bit of opportune synergy with CBS News, the names of the “Survivor III” contestants were announced Tuesday morning on “The Early Show,” with co-anchors Bryant Gumbel and Jane Clayson getting the honor of doing roll call.

At 35 years, the average age of the contestants appears somewhat older than in “Survivor I” and “Survivor II,” but contestants are almost equally divided between the over-40 group (seven contestants) and the under-30 crowd (eight contestants), with one contestant at 38 years old. The eldest contestant is 57 years old.

Following is the list of the 16 contestants, in alphabetical order:

Carl Bilancione, 46, a dentist from Winder Springs, Fla.; Clarence Black, 24, a high school basketball coach from Detroit; Tom Buchanan, 46, a goat farmer from Rich Valley, Va.; Jessie Camacho, 27, a deputy sheriff, from Orlando, Fla.; Teresa Cooper, 42, a flight attendant, from Jackson, Ga.; Silas Gaither, 23, a bartender, from Germantown, Tenn. (currently living in Los Angeles); Frank Garrison, 43, a telephone technician from Odessa, N.Y.; Kelly Goldsmith, 22, a behavioral research analyst and recent grad of Duke University, from Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.; Kim Johnson, 57, a retired school teacher from Oyster Bay, N.Y.; Diane Ogden, 42, a mail carrier from Lincoln, Neb.; Kim Powers, 29, a free-lance marketer from Conshohocken, Pa.; Brandon Quinton, 25, a bartender from Dallas; Lindsey Richter, 27, an advertising account executive from Portland, Ore.; Linda Spencer, 44, a career counselor from Cambridge, Mass.; Lex van den Berghe, 38, a marketing manager from Santa Cruz, Calif.; and Ethan Zohn, 27, a professional soccer player from Lexington, Mass. (currently living in New York City).

In terms of a racial breakdown of the cast, Mr. Black and Ms. Spencer are African Americans and Mr. Camacho is of Puerto Rican descent, while the remaining 13 contestants (81 percent) are white.

“Survivor: Africa,” which was shot in July and August, takes place in the Shaba National Reserve in Kenya, Africa, Submerged in the unforgiving heat and arid landscape, the 16 contestants had to contend with dangerous wildlife, including lions, cheetahs, elephants, leopards, gazelles, giraffes, water buffalo, crocodiles, snakes and scorpions.

“Survivor: Africa” is produced by SEG Inc. Mark Burnett is executive producer, with Craig Piligian serving as co-executive producer.

Telethon raises $150 million: Last Friday’s unprecedented 35-network telethon, “America: A Tribute to Heroes,” raised more than $150 million in pledges through Monday from call centers in the United States and Canada as well as through its Web site, according to the event’s organizers.

One hundred percent of the funds raised will go to The September 11th Telethon Fund and will be earmarked to help the thousands of victims and their families who have suffered from the terrorist attacks on America. The Telethon Fund is a long-term relief fund administered by the United Way, which is working with a special oversight committee made up of representatives from ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, along with business and nonprofit community leaders appointed to best determine the specific allocation of the money.

The two-hour telethon drew an average 59.3 million total viewers and up to 89 million viewers during different six-minute intervals of the broadcast Friday, Nielsen Media Research has estimated. The sum aggregate average for what Nielsen measured as 30 networks was a 38.3 rating/64 share household average, representing 38.4 million U.S. households.

Organizers said the 35 participating networks in the simulcast were ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, A&E, BET, CMT: Country Music Television, Comedy Central, Court TV, Discovery, E!, Fox Family, Fox Sports Net, FX, Galavision, Hallmark Channel, HBO, Lifetime, MTV, Oxygen, PAX, PBS, Sci-Fi, SHOWTIME, Sundance Channel, Telemundo, TLC, TNN, TNT, The WB, Turner South, Univision, UPN, USA Network and VH1.

Out of the estimated 8,000 radio outlets carrying the telethon, such major group operators as Westwood One, Clear Channel and ABC Radio affiliates participated in the major markets.

“America: A Tribute to Heroes” was distributed to broadcasters and cablecasters in more than 210 countries and, AFN, the American Forces Network carried the program live on radio and television to American armed forces in over 175 countries.

Donations to the relief fund can still be made at www.tributetoheroes.org (or AOL keyword: Tribute or tribute.yahoo.com), or mailed in care of The September 11th Telethon Fund at P.O. Box 203103, Houston, TX 77216-3103.

Hatch sentenced to one year’s probation: Richard Hatch, the $1 million winner of the inaugural run of CBS’s “Survivor” in summer 2000, was sentenced to one year’s probation Monday in a domestic assault case brought by his former boyfriend, Glenn Boyanowski. The Associated Press reported Mr. Hatch, 40, plans to appeal the ruling handed down by Newport, R.I., County District Court Judge Robert K. Pirraglia.

“It’s a ludicrous ruling, and I’m not sure what’s behind the judge’s personal reasons for it, but it’s certainly not objective,” Mr. Hatch told Newport radio station WPRO-AM.

Mr. Boyanowski accused Mr. Hatch of assaulting him in August during an alleged altercation that took place on the front steps of his Middletown, R.I., home which reportedly began when Mr. Boyanowski tried to push his way inside.

Since winning the grand prize in “Survivor I,” Mr. Hatch has continued to serve as a radio talk show host for a local Boston station.

Study shows Americans ready for TV, advertising normalcy: The American public overwhelmingly favors a return to television programming and advertising normalcy, according to a “flash” study from Knowledge Networks-Statistical Research, conducted during the weekend of Sept. 22-23. The study shows that 80 percent of Americans feel it is acceptable for the TV networks to go ahead with the introduction of new fall programs, and that 77 percent believe that enough time has passed to resume advertising on entertainment programs.

Advertising during news programming drew more mixed results, with 52 percent of respondents favoring resumption of advertising, while 48 percent believed that ads were still out of place.

KN-SRI also posed the hypothetical possibility of a five-minute nightly program with the latest news about the attacks and their aftermaths. Eight-two percent of respondents favored the proposal, and 67 percent said they would view companies sponsoring such a program as “industry leaders,” while 40 percent said they would be more inclined to buy sponsors’ products.

Knowledge Networks recently acquired assets from Statistical Research. The study measuring post-attack attitudes of viewers is the first product since that acquisition.

(c) Copyright 2001 by Crain Communications