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Briefly Noted

Dec 10, 2001  •  Post A Comment

ABC, CBS split video of American Taliban fighter
ABC News and CBS News, which recently have been exploring ways they might share costs of news gathering, put up $40,000 each for a fascinating video in which CIA agent Mike Spann, who would die just hours later, interrogated John Walker, the Californian who had joined the Taliban militia. The two networks purchased the video, which is thought to have been taped by a Northern Alliance operative, for $80,000 from a French free-lance photographer after negotiations that went until nearly dawn Friday. The tape appeared in the second half-hour of ABC’s “Good Morning America” and in the first half-hour on CBS’s “The Early Show.”
Though the deal had been that neither network would label the tape “exclusive,” perhaps that word did not make its way to the “Early Show” control room, because CBS did label its report as “exclusive,” and reportedly apologized to ABC News and promised not to do it again.
In the negotiations to purchase the tape, there had been a round of blind bidding in which NBC News reportedly offered $25,000. Fox News knew the tape was available but declined to bid, said a spokesman. CNN reportedly dropped out of the bidding as it became apparent the asking price was too high for the all-news network. The previous weekend, in a first for American TV, CNN had carried free-lancer Scott Pelton’s encounter with Mr. Walker, who was discovered among the Taliban survivors of the riots at Kala Jangi, where Mr. Spann lost his life.
FAA allows news choppers to fly
The Radio-Television News Directors Association said last week that the Federal Aviation Administration is letting news and traffic aircraft back into the air, but only under case-by-case waivers. Barbara Cochran, RTNDA president, said a number of restrictions still apply, including bans on circling and hovering. The FAA banned the flights altogether in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. “We’re glad to see news and traffic aircraft back in the air, but we’ll keep working to return operations to normal,” Ms. Cochran said.
Women overlooked by Sunday newsmaker shows
Women guests have a low profile on the major Sunday newsmakers shows, according to a study released last week by The White House Project. The study, conducted with help from the Strategic Issues Management Group, a public policy research firm, shows that women represented 11 percent of total guest appearances from Jan. 1, 2000, through June 30, 2001, and following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, from Sept. 16-Oct. 28. The study followed ABC’s “This Week,” CBS’s “Face the Nation,” CNN’s “Late Edition,” “Fox News Sunday” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
The survey showed that there were a cumulative 245 repeat appearances by male senators and eight by female senators. Over the six weeks following Sept. 11, the number of women booked as guests dropped 39 percent from the previous 18 months studied. “By not appearing on these shows, women miss the opportunity to be viewed as leaders and candidates,” the study said.
The findings of the study will be discussed in private meetings with representatives of some of the newsmaker shows, but the tenor of the reaction before they had seen the report themselves was that their bookings reflect both the shows’ mandate-getting the newsmakers most pertinent to the big stories of the week-and the power structure as it exists, not as someone might wish for. “The goal of `This Week’ is to feature the leading voices on news issues of the week, and the booking decisions at `This Week’ are made on the basis of news value and not gender,” said a spokeswoman for the ABC Sunday morning show, whose argument was echoed by representatives from the other networks’ shows.
NBA seeks pricey contract with ABC Sports/ESPN
The NBA is hoping it can get from ABC Sports and ESPN what it appears unlikely to get from NBC Sports and Turner Sports: a new contract that doesn’t pay the league less than the $2.64 billion it is getting from NBC and Turner under the current deal, which has been a money-loser for both networks and which is about to expire. A report last week in USA Today said NBC may have offered as much as 25 percent less than the $1.75 billion it has been paying for a sport that has lost viewership every season since Michael Jordan left the court in 1998. The two games broadcast so far on NBC this fall-both of which featured Mr. Jordan as the prodigal player-have averaged 2.9 Nielsen Media Research ratings. NBC lost a reported $100 million on its NBA coverage last year.
Coen expects ad rebound
Advertising forecasting guru Robert Coen said last week that he expects total U.S. ad spending to rebound by 2.4 percent in 2002 to $239.3 billion following this year’s overall 4 percent decline. He opened the annual UBS Warburg media conference in New York by telling attendees that in 2002, national advertising will rise 2.5 percent (following this year’s 4 percent decline) and local advertising will rise 2.3 percent (after a 5 percent decline in 2001). Mr. Coen is senior vice president of Universal McCann, a unit of the Interpublic Group.