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May 23, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Rigas family members exit Adelphia board seats

Four Rigas family members have agreed to give up their Adelphia Communications Corp. board seats and will transfer $1 billion worth of assets to the company, according to a Dow Jones report. The moves come as part of a continuing fallout from loans Adelphia made to the family — and ongoing criminal and regulatory investigations into the company.

John Rigas, who resigned his post as CEO of the nation’s sixth-largest cable company last week, and his son, Timothy, who resigned his post as CFO, both agreed to give up their seats, as did John Rigas’ sons Michael and James, who have exited their posts as executive vice presidents. Peter Venetis, a son-in-law of John Rigas, is also expected to resign his seat on the board.

John Rigas will reportedly receive a yearly $1.4 million severance payment for three years.

Adelphia, which is under investigation by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission, is working to regain credibility with lenders and Wall Street. Nasdaq halted trading of Adelphia shares on May 14, at a last trade of $5.69.

As of April 30, the total co-borrowings by entities tied to the Rigases, for which Adelphia is jointly and fully liable, was about $3.1 billion.

Ross named EM publisher, editorial director: Chuck Ross has been appointed publisher and editorial director of Electronic Media. Formerly editor of EM, he succeeds Marc White, who chose not to relocate his family to the West Coast.

Mr. Ross will officially assume his new position on June 3. Mr. White will remain at Crain Communications through June 30 to help with the transition.Mr. Ross joined Crain Communications at sister publication Advertising Age in 1996 as media editor. In January 2000, he left Advertising Age to become editor of Electronic Media. With the growth of West Coast coverage and staff, Mr. Ross presided over the move of the publication from Chicago to Los Angeles in May 2000.

He was formerly executive editor of Inside Media before joining Crain Communications. He also worked for Cablevision magazine, the Hollywood Reporter, TV/Radio Age and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Fox’s Minneapolis duopoly switching affiliations, combining facilities: The Fox owned duopoly in Minneapolis will combine under one roof and switch its affiliations. UPN affiliate KMSP-TV will carry Fox’s programming, and WFTC-TV will become a UPN affiliate. Carol Rueppel, general manager of KMSP and WFTC, said they will use the combined and expanded newsgathering resources of both stations to provide newscasts in two different time periods, at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. seven days a week.

‘Rosie’ finale scores season high: The finale of the “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” enjoyed a grand sendoff for its last live show Wednesday scoring a season high 5.7 rating/17 share in the overnight markets and winning its time period in 29 of those markets. The show improved its lead-in (3.3/11) by 73 percent in rating and 55 percent in share. Tom Cruise was among the stars featured in the finale.

‘Celebrity Boxing’ boosts Fox on final night of sweeps: Leave it to Fox to score a near-knockout with “Celebrity Boxing 2” on the final night of May sweeps. As expected, NBC sealed its win of Wednesday, the May sweeps (April 25-May 22) and the 2001-02 season, which traditionally ends on the sweeps’ final day. But for the night, Fox jumped 29 percent compared with its week-ago performance with regular programming.

Starting the evening with a special run of “The Simpsons” at 8 p.m., Fox won the frame with a 4.0 rating/13 share among adults 18 to 49, according to Nielsen Media Research’s preliminary Nielsen Media Research fast national data. “The Simpsons” held a healthy 33 percent cushion over ABC’s unexpectedly fourth-ranked “My Wife and Kids” (3.0/10), which also trailed the first half-hour of CBS’s “Country Music Awards” (3.1/10) and NBC’s “Most Outrageous Game Show Moments” special (3.3/11).

“Game Show Moments” improved 33 percent over its lead-in frame by scoring a top-ranked 4.4/13 in the demo for the 8:30 p.m.-to-9 p.m. span. A second run of “My Wife and Kids” perked up 25 percent from its opening frame at a second-ranked 4.0/12 among adults 18 to 49, while CBS’s “CMA” fete moved up 13 percent to a 3.5/10.

The 8:30 p.m. start of “Celebrity Boxing 2” began with a third-ranked 3.8/11 in the adults 18 to 49 demo (dropping 5 percent from “The Simpsons”) but shot up 66 percent over the remaining hour of the show. It could have been the lack of even B-star power that led to a slow viewer build for “Celebrity Boxing 2” as the night progressed.

In the first fight, it was former Fox “Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire’s” bride, Darva Conger, who beat undersized former Olympic gymnast Olga Korbut. From there, Dustin Diamond, formerly Screech from NBC’s “Saved by the Bell,” beat Ron Palillo, who starred as Arnold Horshack in “Welcome Back, Kotter.” Former NBA star Manute Bol outscored former football star William “The Refrigerator” Perry. In the final fight, tabloid fodder Joey Buttafuoco beat Joanie Laurer, who was best known as Chyna of World Wrestling Federation fame.

In the 9 p.m.-to-9:30 p.m. frame, “Celebrity Boxing” hit a second-ranked 5.2/13 in adults 18 to 49 while tying NBC’s season-ending episode of “The West Wing” (both at 6.3/15 averages) for the 9:30-to-10 p.m. time slot. True to form, “The West Wing” won the full 9 p.m. hour in adults 18 to 49 (6.0/15), total viewers (16.3 million) and households (11.1/17). “Celebrity Boxing 2’s” entire 8:30 p.m.-to-10 p.m. run placed it second for the night in adults 18 to 49 (5.1/13) and adults 18 to 34 (6.1/17) in addition to drawing 10 million total viewers and a 6.2/10 average in households.

Meanwhile, NBC’s 10 p.m. season finale of “Law & Order” registered typically top-ranked scores for the time period and the night in adults 18 to 49 (7.1/18), households (12.8/21) and total viewers (19.2 million).

The closing 10 p.m. hour of the “CMA” awards put CBS in second-place position in adults 18 to 49 (4.8/12) in the time slot. “CMA” put CBS in third place among adults 18 to 49 (4.2/11) and second place in households (8.6/14) and total viewers (13.9 million) for its entire 8 p.m.-to-11 p.m. prime-time rotation. Magician “David Blaine’s Vertigo” special placed ABC third in the 10 p.m. hour among adults 18 to 49 (4.1//10), households (5.7/9) and total viewers (8.6 million).

NBC came out the big winner for the night, gaining 16 percent week to week among adults 18 to 49 (5.7/15) in addition to winning Wednesday in households (12.8/21) and total viewers (15.4 million). Thanks in large part to “Celebrity Boxing’s” raising viewer curiosity, Fox’s second-ranked 4.8/13 score among adults 18 to 49 marked a 29 percent jump from what the previous Wednesday’s regularly scheduled series averaged on the night in the key demo (3.7/11).

Home Depot signs $100 million cross-platform pact with ABC Unlimited: The Home Depot and The Walt Disney Co.’s ABC Unlimited cross-platform unit have agreed to a three-year pact that will involve ABC-TV, ESPN and Lifetime, as well as other Disney properties.

The deal, said to be worth around $100 million, is the largest of its kind in Home Depot’s history. As part of the deal, Home Depot and Disney plan to develop a line of Disney-branded children’s paint and other home-improvement products. Disney will also purchase Home Depot products for a variety of its operations.

Couric to host PBS’s ‘Freedom’ doc: NBC “Today” show co-host Katie Couric has agreed to host “Freedom: A History of Us,” a 16-part documentary series that will air nationally on PBS beginning Jan. 12. GE is sole corporate sponsor of the series, which is based on Joy Hakim’s best-selling books about American history. Christopher Reeve serves as creative consultant on the series, which is a production of Kunhardt Productions and Thirteen/WNET New York. Executive producers are Peter Kunhardt and Sandra Sheppard.

(c) Copyright 2002 by Crain Communications