Briefly Noted

Apr 22, 2002  •  Post A Comment

ABC Family, Disney Kids combine ad sales units
ABC Family Channel and The Disney Kids Network have combined their advertising sales activities into a single unit called ABC Family & Kids, naming ABC sales veteran Laura Nathanson as its executive VP. The creation of the new division, announced by ABC Television Group President Steve Bornstein, integrates ad sales for Disney/ABC Cable network properties (ABC Family Channel, Toon Disney), ABC’s Saturday morning broadcast lineup (Disney’s “One Saturday Morning” block) and Buena Vista Television’s syndicated lineup. Additionally, the new unit plans to pitch advertisers on other integrated marketing opportunities for The Disney Channel as well as on Radio Disney, Disney.com and its Disney Adventures magazine.
ABC said the new sales organization is designed to provide advertisers with a “comprehensive marketing platform,” tapping into programming across the assets of The Walt Disney Co., including its broadcast, cable, syndication, print, radio and online media properties. The ABC Family & Kids unit is on par with integrated kids marketing units within Viacom/CBS and AOL Time Warner. Ms. Nathanson, who most recently served as executive VP and national sales manager for the ABC Television Network, will continue to be based out of New York, reporting to Angela Shapiro, president of ABC Family Channel.
Bass to replace Friedman as `Early’ producer
In addition to a new anchor, “The Early Show” will get a new senior executive producer in May. “Early” architect Steve Friedman will leave the CBS morning show at the end of the month and be replaced by Michael Bass, who spent the better part of the past decade with NBC’s “Today.” Mr. Bass, whose “Early” start date is still to be determined, left “Today” last year after serving as interim executive producer for several months, only to see Jonathan Wald get the position and the crucial vote of Katie Couric. Mr. Bass, who conceived the annual “Where in the World Is Matt Lauer?” stunt on “Today,” launched the short-lived “Later Today,” which became the third hour of “Today” in 2000. He was executive producer of “Weekend Today” for a year before that. Mr. Bass’ name has been floated regularly since then for positions on shows including CNN’s “American Morning With Paula Zahn.”
Mr. Friedman had only recently signed a new three-year contract. But after longtime collaborator Bryant Gumbel decided to pack it in, Mr. Friedman suggested that CBS News President Andrew Heyward talk to potential replacements.
Mr. Friedman said he told Mr. Heyward he wanted to leave and didn’t want his staff, already waiting to hear who will succeed Mr. Gumbel, to have to wait for another shoe to drop, so the announcement of Mr. Bass’ hire was made.
“I’m not in any great hurry to work,” Mr. Friedman said. “On the other hand, I’m not done. I’m still what I think is a very good producer. My instructions to [agent Jim Griffin] are, `Hey, let’s see what happens.”’
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 Sen. 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 last week. 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.
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. 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 general manager of MSNBC.
Discovery launching HD Theater net
Discovery Communications is launching Discovery HD Theater, a 24-hour high-definition television network that will roll out on June 17. HD Theater, which will be advertiser-supported, will telecast the nature, history, travel and other programming offered on the various Discovery networks, but in a high-definition format.