Briefly Noted

Apr 29, 2002  •  Post A Comment

ABC gives sales department an agency focus
The ABC sales department has reorganized, moving away from what the network calls a “daypart-centric approach” to one that focuses more specifically on the newly consolidated mega-agencies. Just eight agencies now control more than 80 percent of all domestic advertising expenditures, according to ABC, which in a statement cited that new reality as the reason for its reorganization. The new structure will include so-called client specialists, who will develop marketing partnerships, execute buying and planning goals and finalize deal and daypart strategists, who will be responsible for pricing, inventory management, acting as liaisons with programming heads and planning development.
The client specialists group will be headed by Cynthia Ponce, former senior VP, news sales, who has been promoted to executive VP and general sales manager for ABC. Ms. Ponce will report to Mike Shaw, president, sales and marketing, ABC Television Network, who in turn reports to Alex Wallau, president of the ABC Television Network. John Caruso, formerly VP of prime-time sales, and Gary Montanus, formerly senior VP of the Disney Kids Network, have been named senior VPs of ABC sales. Both will report to Ms. Ponce. Bill Bund, senior VP of ABC Unlimited, will continue in that position and now will report to Ms. Ponce.
J&J, TNT to cooperate on original telefilms
Johnson & Johnson and Turner Network Television have reached a multiyear deal for the development and production of original television films, which will be telecast under the “Johnson & Johnson Spotlight Presentations” banner. The J&J movie franchise on TNT is the first announced programming deal from Interpublic’s Magna Global Entertainment, previously known as Universal McCann Entertainment Group. The deal, which is expected to run for a minimum of three years, is renewable yearly, a Turner spokesman confirmed. It is also expected to result in at least two “Johnson & Johnson Spotlight Presentations” per year, although 2002, its first year, may see only one J&J-bannered project. The first project to result from the collaboration will be “Door to Door,” starring William H. Macy and Helen Mirren, which will premiere in July.
Tech TV lays off 50
San Francisco-based Tech TV has let go approximately 50 staffers, mostly behind-the-cameras employees who worked on the network’s “Tech Live” newsmagazine. Layoffs are associated with a change in programming focus at the privately held network, said Joseph Gillespie, Tech’s executive VP and chief operating officer. “Tech Live” will be cut from an hour nightly to a half-hour beginning this summer. Mr. Gillespie declined to say what percentage of the network’s workforce was affected by the cuts, citing Tech TV’s status as a privately held company.
FCC to auction over-the-air multichannel licenses
The Federal Communications Commission last week announced that it will use auctions to award licenses for a new service that offers multichannel video and broadband Internet over the air. Northpoint Technology, which wants to offer the terrestrial service on the same frequencies as direct broadcast satellite, opposed the auction and previously said it would appeal such a decision in federal court. Under the new FCC rules, DBS operators are free to bid for the channels everywhere, but cable operators won’t be permitted to operate the new services in areas where they own cable systems. In the past, DBS operators have complained that the terrestrial service would cause interference.
Fox scores at Sports Emmys
Fox took home 11 Sports Emmys, more than any other network, including awards for its NASCAR, NFL and baseball coverage, at the 23rd annual Sports Emmy Awards. ESPN was second with seven awards, followed by HBO with three, including the award for sports journalism for its “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel.” ABC, CBS, TBS and TNT each won two awards, while NBC struck out with none. ABC and ESPN executive Herb Granath, who headed ESPN in the 1980s, received the lifetime achievement award, and the late Dick Schaap received the first Dick Schaap Outstanding Writing Award for ESPN’s “Flashing Before My Eyes.”
Former NBC exec John Rohrbeck dies at 62
Memorials for former NBC executive John Rohrbeck will be held in Los Angeles and New York. Mr. Rohrbeck, who was 62, died April 20 at the USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital in L.A. During some three decades with the network, he had run key stations, including KNBC-TV and WNBC-TV, but he became best known as the head of the network-owned stations division in the 1980s and `90s. The West Coast memorial was scheduled last Friday. Details are still to come on a May 10 service to be held at New York’s Riverside Memorial Chapel.