Cable Notes

Oct 1, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Loesch leaving Crown Media
Margaret Loesch, founding president and CEO of Crown Media United States, which operates the Hallmark Channel, said last week that she would depart the company next month at the conclusion of her present three-year contract. She will be replaced by Lana Corbi, currently chief operating officer of parent company Crown Media Holdings.
Ms. Loesch’s departure comes 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 said at the time.
According to a Crown spokesman, Ms. Loesch’s departure is “amicable” and was made 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 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. Ms. Loesch, former president of the Jim Henson Television Group, also was the founding president and CEO of Fox Kids Networks Worldwide.
Waters leaving CNN; Kalb could stay
CNN has announced that Lou Waters, one of the first anchors on the 21-year-old network, is leaving to become managing editor and occasional on-camera talent for NewsProNet, which produces features for TV stations. Mr. Waters, whose weekday showcase, “CNN Live Today,” has been supplanted by coverage of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the country’s preparations for retaliation, is expected to leave at the end of the week. His co-anchor Natalie Allen also is expected to leave the all-news network.
Meanwhile, Bernard Kalb, who has co-hosted CNN’s “Reliable Sources” with Washington Post media writer Howard Kurtz, used Jim Romenesko’s Media News Web site to say the Sept. 7 announcement that he is leaving the show on which he’s appeared for nine years “was premature.” A CNN spokesperson said that in light of recent events, CNN has resumed discussions with Mr. Kalb and that he continues to work with the media review show.
National Geo, Biography score high
There was good news for some emerging ad-supported digital networks last week. In the 2001 Beta Research Cable Subscriber Interest Study, a telephone survey of levels of interest in various networks, National Geographic Channel achieved the highest level of interest among prospective viewers, with 61 percent of respondents expressing an interest in viewing the channel. Biography Channel was in second place with 52 percent. Other networks with a high want-to-see factor included, in descending order, Discovery Science Network, Lifetime Movie Network, FamilyNet, Weatherscan Local and DIY: Do-It-Yourself Network, all of which had interest levels above 40 percent. The survey was conducted among 1,014 cable subscribers. Interest was measured based on “concept descriptions” of the networks.
TV usage up in 2000-01 season
There was some good news last week for the TV industry, which has been buffeted by advertising cutbacks and steep increases in news-gathering costs. Overall prime-time usage in the United States for the 2000-01 season (Oct. 2, 2000 to Sept. 9, 2001) was up by 1 million homes, or 2 percent, to 60.5 million households, an all-time high, with a major portion of the gains coming from viewers in the 18 to 24 and 50 to 64 age groups, according to a CableTelevision Advertising Bureau analysis of Nielsen data. Persons aged 50 to 64 viewing television were up 5 percent, followed by persons 18 to 24, who increased by 4 percent, according to the CAB.
-With contributions by Michele Greppi