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Apr 14, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Posted Sunday, April 14, at 1:05 p.m. (PT); last updated Monday, April 15, at 2:55 p.m.

Shell moves to Gemstar-TV Guide

Fox Cable Network Group President and CEO Jeff Shell has relinquished his post to join Gemstar-TV Guide International as co-president and chief operating officer. He fills the vacancy created by the sudden resignation of Peter Boylan III on March 18.

Fox parent News Corp. owns 42.6 percent of Gemstar-TV Guide, and the move is seen as News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch’s attempt to exert more control over the beleaguered company, which is headed by Gemstar-TV Guide Chairman and CEO Henry Yuen. Gemstar’s stock price has steeply declined in recent weeks.

Mr. Shell, who will be based at company headquarters in Pasadena, Calif., will report to Mr Yuen, who said in a statement, “[Mr. Shell’s] operational leadership will … permit me to intensify my focus on developing innovative technologies and on expanding our business, both domestically and internationally.”

Mr. Shell joined Fox Television in 1994 as head of new business development and was named president and CEO of Fox Cable Network Group in April 2000. A replacement for Mr. Shell at the Fox Cable Network Group is not expected to be named immediately.

Democrats complain about lack of cable coverage: Senate and House Democratic leaders recently complained to CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC that the cable networks are not covering enough Democratic Party events on television. By contrast, they said the White House is drawing “an extraordinary level of attention” from cable news outlets. “We don’t expect the cable news networks to use a stopwatch and a scale when it comes to determining their political coverage,” wrote House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt of Missouri and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota in an April 12 letter. “But we are concerned that cable news coverage tilted toward the White House muffles the voice of the Democratic Party, undermines our ability to communicate our ideas to our constituents and undercuts the debate that is the heart of our democracy,” they wrote. The letter was sent to Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, CNN Chairman and CEO Walter Isaacson and Erik Sorenson, VP and GM of MSNBC.

FTC chairman questions Hollings move: Federal Trade Commission Chairman Tim Muris isn’t pleased that Senate Commerce Committee head Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., is exploring budgetary and staff cuts to punish the agency for ceding its media merger review authority to the Justice Department. “If Senator Hollings were to succeed in eliminating the commissioners’ salaries, the agency would have no legal authority to move forward with its responsibilities, including its rulemaking, investigative and law enforcement functions,” Mr. Muris said in a statement released Monday. He added, “I am surprised that Sen. Hollings, being such a strong advocate of consumer protection, would consider a measure that would virtually eliminate the FTC’s ability to protect consumers.” The senator is seeking FTC feedback on the impact of eliminating senior executive positions and the FTC’s public affairs and legislative offices.

Sports-rights fees to decline, Magna Global predicts: When current contracts expire, say goodbye to regular season sports on broadcast television and say hello to declining sports rights fees as big-league sports continue to migrate to cable TV.

That is one bottom-line conclusion from “The TV Sports Report,” an analysis produced by Magna Global USA. “Until now, costs have always [been] driven up by the fact that there’s an out network that wants in (or wants back in),” according to Magna’s Steve Sternberg, the report’s principal author. “[Only] post-season major sports events are likely to remain the exclusive domain of the broadcast networks.”

Other report highlights:

There has been a “slight decline” in overall sports viewing levels in the past two years. However, the “public’s appetite for sports remains strong.”

In 2001, men spent almost 78.4 hours watching sports on network television and almost 57 hours watching sports on basic cable; the comparable amounts for women in 2001 are 42.5 hours (network) and 25.6 hours (cable).

In 2001, the youngest skewing network sports, the only ones with more than half of their viewers under the age of 40, were wrestling, soccer, extreme sports, NHL hockey and NBA basketball. The oldest skewing networks sports, with more than half of their viewers over 50, were golf, horse racing, figure skating and regular-season baseball. Cable sports followed the same general pattern, according to the Magna report. The median age of the broadcast sports viewer is slightly older than that of the cable sports viewer, 45 to 42, the report found.

Portable People Meters find more viewers than Nielsen diaries: The Portable People Meter continues to report higher quarter-hour audience levels than Nielsen diaries for both broadcast and cable, and in all dayparts, according to the latest data from Arbitron’s Philadelphia-area trial of the new technology.

Seven Philadelphia-market broadcast stations and 20 cable networks were measured. Findings include:

The PPM showed average quarter-hour (AQH) ratings for persons 12 and older to be 17.3 for broadcast television and 8.1 for cable television in the market, compared to diary AQH ratings of 12.9 for broadcast and 3.4 for cable.

Some aggregated broadcast and cable daypart ratings showed startling differences between the two methods. For example, the PPM showed a 51.1 AQH weeknight 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. prime-time rating for persons 6 and older; the comparable Nielsen diary rating was 38.8.

The PPM is “reporting higher AQH audiences for all dayparts,” according to an Arbitron statement. “These increases appear to be due in large part to increased viewing for men and people under age 35, as well as to higher cable viewing overall, and the PPM’s ability to track viewing out of home.”

The Philadelphia PPM panel consisted of 1,500 consumers. The diary panel was more than twice its size. The time period covered by the trial is Jan. 31 to Feb. 27, 2002. The Philadelphia trial expands upon an earlier trial in Wilmington, Del.

GLAAD honors ‘Will & Grace,’ ‘Six Feet Under’: The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation presented GLAAD Media Awards to NBC’s “Will & Grace,” HBO’s “Six Feet Under” and Showtime’s “Resurrection Blvd.” Saturday evening in Los Angeles. The shows were recognized for “fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community” and the issues affecting it.

“Will & Grace” was named outstanding comedy series, “Six Feet Under” was recognized as outstanding drama series, and the “Saliendo (Coming Out)” episode of “Resurrection Blvd.” was selected as outstanding individual episode (in a series without a regular gay character).

In addition, GLAAD’s special Stephen F. Kolzak Award was presented to “Six Feet Under” creator Alan Ball at the event, which was held at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. The Kolzak award is given to “an openly gay member of the entertainment or media community for his or her work toward eliminating homophobia.

(c) Copyright 2002 by Crain Communications