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May 20, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Supreme Court won’t take EchoStar case on out-of-area station signals

The U.S. Supreme Court today shot down an effort by EchoStar to expand its delivery of distant network television signals to consumers. The government restricts dish TV providers to offering distant network feeds only to customers who can’t get their local signals over-the-air. EchoStar considers that a violation of its free speech rights and sought to challenge the restrictions before the high court, saying its viewers should be able to watch what they please. But the Supreme Court, without explanation, declined to take the case. The National Association of Broadcasters heralded the decision, saying “The high court’s action enhances the concept of localism in the delivery of free over-the-air television.”

WNYW-TV’s Ryan recovering from heart surgery: Jim Ryan, anchor for “Good Day New York” at Fox-owned WNYW-TV is recovering from the triple bypass surgery he underwent on Friday. He will be off the air for a few weeks to recuperate and is expected to call in to his show as early as Wednesday to tell viewers how he’s doing.

‘Survivor 4’ spikes CBS to Sunday ratings win: Whether it was the first African American to win CBS’s “Survivor” competition or Fox Mulder and Dana Scully bidding adieu on Fox’s two-hour “The X-Files” finale, the last Sunday of the May sweeps turned out to be a big one for the broadcast networks, with the unexpected exception of perennial Sunday power ABC, whose double runs of the “The Practice” continued to stumble.

CBS’s Sunday night finale of “Survivor: Marquesas,” won by 36-year-old Vecepia Towery from Portland, Ore., ran away with wins in the all of the key measures including adults 18 to 49 (10.3 rating/23 share) and total viewers (24.6 million). The scores propelled the Eye Network to broad victories on the night, according to preliminary Nielsen Media Research fast national data.

The 8 p.m.-to-10:15 p.m. (ET) “Survivor 4” finale, closing out the final portion live from New York’s Central Park, also won the span in adults 18 to 34 (9.7/24), adults 25 to 54 (11.2/23) and households (13.3/21). Demo scores in adults 18 to 34 marked the best outing for CBS since Nielsen’s launch of the People Meter service in 1987 and best adults 18 to 49 and adults 25 to 54 ratings since November 1993.

“Survivor: Marquesas Reunion,” airing from 10:15 p.m. to 11 p.m., also won in adults 18 to 49 (8.3/19), adults 18 to 34 (8.1/20) and adults 25 to 54 (9.0/19) for the 45-minute frame. “Marquesas Reunion,” hosted by Rosie O’Donnell, also came in second in households (10.3/17) and total viewers (18.2 million).

The strong “Survivor” Sunday closing only cast a slight shadow on Fox’s series finale bow of “The X-Files.” Featuring a special guest star turn from David Duchovny, a second-ranked 6.0/14 among adults 18 to 49 and 12.9 million total viewers for the 8 p.m.-to-10 p.m. frame — marking its best scores since its May 20, 2001, season finale last year.

NBC, while stumbling a bit with the 8 p.m.-to-9 p.m. repeat of “Funniest Out-takes” ranking third among adults 18 to 49 (4.2/10) and total viewers 9.3 million, saw its “Cosby Show Reunion” recover nicely with second-ranked adults 18 to 49 (7.6/17) and total viewers (18.2 million) for its 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. run.

ABC, typically a first- or second-place contender in adults 18 to 49 on Sundays, saw its “Wonderful World of Disney” presentation of the movie “Dinosaur” become extinct with a bottom-ranked 2.7/7 in adults 18 to 49 and a narrow third in total viewers (8.8 million). However, “Dinosaurs” did scare up a top-ranked 5.3/18 among the kids 2 to 11 demographic and a second-ranked 3.0/10 in teens.

The lack of older adult demos flowing into a special 9 p.m. run of “The Practice” spelled a disappointing fourth-ranked average in adults 18 to 49 (3.5/7) and 11.3 million total viewers. The regularly scheduled season-closing 10 p.m. episode of “The Practice” improved 48 percent on its own lead-in, with a third-ranked averages in adults 18 to 49 (5.2/12) and total viewers (15.0 million).

Overall, CBS won the 7 p.m.-to-11 p.m. span across the board, holding a 38 percent advantage over NBC in adults 18 to 49 (8.0/19 vs. 5.8/14) and a 58 percent lead in total viewers (21.3 million vs. 13.5 million). However, NBC still holds healthy winning edges in adults 18 to 49 and total viewers for the May sweeps, which will more than likely cinch the Peacock in those two measures for the season.

Meanwhile, Fox ended up in competitive second-place positions in adults 18 to 34 (5.6/15) and adults 18 to 49 (5.5/14) for its 7 p.m.-to-10 p.m. prime time Sunday rotation. ABC trailed in with bottom-ranked scores in adults 18 to 49 (3.5/9) and total viewers (11.0 million) for the 8 p.m.-to-11 p.m. span.

Still, the overall HUT levels (households using television) for the Big 4 networks delivered an aggregate 56 share average, which was off only 5 percent from the typical 59 share for the highest HUT level night of Thursday (not counting last Thursday’s big “Friends” finale-sparked outing). But ratings researchers at Fox suggested that Sunday’s HUT level scores were very comparable to an “average” Thursday in a sweeps period.

O’Donnell exits daytime with two more Emmys: Rosie O’Donnell, public broadcasting’s “Sesame Street” and ABC’s “One Life to Live” were named the best in their categories at the 29th annual Daytime Emmy Awards Friday night in New York.

Ms. O’Donnell, whose last original show is scheduled to air Wednesday, exits with two big Emmys, one for her role as host of the show that bears her name and one for best talk show, her sixth in a row.

During the live CBS broadcast, CBS was the big winner with seven Emmys, followed by ABC (three), PBS (two), and Showtime and Disney Channel (one each). A complete list of winners, including creative arts winners from a nontelevised ceremony May 11, can be found at emmyonline.org.

‘Witchblade’ to get Web-based game for second season: “Witchblade,” TNT’s original sci-fi/fantasy series, gets a Web-based interactive game tie-in for the start of its second season, set to begin June 16.

Sponsored advertisements from Subaru, MCI’s 1-800-Collect and Gateway are incorporated into the game on a billboard or as a product placement.The game, produced by WildTangent and available at www.tnt.tv beginning in June, takes players into the world of New York City police detective Sara Pezzini, who wields the the ancient Witchblade weapon.

New president at Time Warner Cable: Veteran ad-sales executive Larry Fischer has been named president of Time Warner Cable Advertising Sales.

Mr. Fischer, who will head up both local and national sales, will report to John Billock, vice chairman and chief operating officer, Time Warner Cable.

Mr. Fischer moves up from executive VP, operations, at TWC’s ad sales group.

Fisher takes Ostroff’s Lifetime spot: Barbara Fisher has been named executive VP, entertainment, Lifetime Entertainment Services. She replaces Dawn Ostroff, who left Lifetime to become UPN’s entertainment president.

Fisher, who joins the network from Universal Studios Network Programming, where she was president, will report to Carole Black, president and CEO of Lifetime Entertainment Services.

Ms. Fisher will oversee all scheduling, programming and production for Lifetime Television, Lifetime Movie Network and Lifetime Real Women.

How about ‘Queer’ coffee mug? “Queer as Folk,” Showtime’s edgy and explicit series about the interconnected lives of several gay men and lesbians, is set to become the first gay-themed television program to have its own merchandising campaign.

LA-based 10% Productions has developed a line of calendars, art posters, metal magnets, coffee mugs, barware, glasses, novelty lamps and gift bags. The company also will sell a line of T-shirts designed by costume designer Patrick Antosh, who does costumes for the series.

(c) Copyright 2002 by Crain Communications