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May 29, 2002  •  Post A Comment

CBS affiliates: it’s thumbs up for news lead-ins this fall

At the only large scale network affiliates meeting held this year, Leslie Moonves, CBS president and CEO, unveiled the network’s fall lineup Wednesday and delivered what some affiliates say are the best 10 p.m. lead-ins they’ve had in some time.

“We know the value of your late news and we designed our new schedule to give you a stronger lead-in with the best roster of 10 o’clock drama we’ve seen in years,” Mr. Moonves said in his pep speech at the 48th consecutive annual CBS affiliates meeting, held this year in Las Vegas.

It was the first time many station managers saw the new 10 p.m. dramas, which were first unveiled in New York at the recent upfront presentation. Those dramas include Monday’s “CSI: Miami,” with David Caruso; Wednesday’s “Presidio Med,” with Dana Delaney; Thursday’s Jerry Bruckheimer drama, “Without a Trace”; Friday’s “RHD/LA,” featuring Tom Sizemore, and Saturday’s “The Agency,” which moves to a new night.

Susan Kelley, general manager at KTVL-TV, Medford, Oreg. said she hopes the new lead-ins will take her 11 p.m. newscast from second place in households to first. That newscast is tied for first in key demos against rival ABC affiliate KDRV-TV and she looking for a boost in demos, too. “Each year they’ve gotten increasingly better and this is the best,” Ms. Kelley said. She also does not mind the predominantly darker, grittier themes in these new shows. “For whatever reason, it plays well in our market, ‘CSI’ and anything of that genre.”

Kevin O’Brien, president of Meredith Broadcasting, said he would rather have “CSI” as a 10 p.m. show. “I think CSI is ready to take ‘ER’ and beat it but they [CBS] see it differently, they see the entire two hour block as a lead-in,” Mr. O’Brien said. He also has seen some of the other networks’ upfront presentations. “There’s a lot of quality here, I think, for new shows,” he said. “This is the best line-up I’ve seen.”

In his speech Mr. Moonves also said the network is “firmly committed to the value and future of free over-the-air television. We’re all in the same business, like you, our stations depend on the best network and local programming.” He also addressed affiliates’ concerns about repurposing: “We recognize repurposing as a legitimate point of concern and we will do it very selectively as a means to reduce our programming costs. We’re certainly not going to do anything to undermine the success of our stations or yours. We continue to believe that preserving and enhancing the asset valuations of our affiliates is good business for you and for us.”

Mr. Moonves also briefly address the “Early Show,” saying, “We recognize the importance of the early morning time period. We have listened to your concerns and have begun to act on [them].” CBS News President Andrew Heyward is expected to also address the affiliates’ “Early” concerns on Thursday.

Fox News Channel No. 1 for five consecutive months: Fox News Channel extended its ratings win streak to five months in a row and finished May as the most-watched cable news network.

In May, for total day, Fox averaged 594,000 viewers (up 153 percent year to year), followed by CNN with 480,000 viewers (up 87 percent), MSNBC with 232,000 (up 13 percent) and CNN Headline News with 187,000 (up 18 percent). In prime time, Fox averaged 1.022 million viewers (up 101 percent year to year), followed by CNN with 814,000 (up 61 percent) viewers, MSNBC with 305,000 (up 9 percent) and CNN Headline News with 202,000 (up 31 percent).

Fox claimed four of the top five cable news shows for the fifth consecutive month, according to Nielsen Media Research data. Ranked No. 1 was Fox’s “The O’Reilly Factor” (1.766 million viewers), followed by CNN’s “Larry King Live” (1.256 million) and Fox’s “Hannity & Colmes” (1.123 million), “Fox Report With Shepard Smith” (1.084 million) and “Special Report With Brit Hume” (999,000 viewers).

Among the head-to-head races in key time slots, the Nielsen data showed that “Fox Report with Shepard Smith” outdrew CNN’s “Crossfire” (559,000 viewers) by 94 percent, and “Fox & Friends” (711,000 viewers, up 171 percent) extended its lead over CNN’s “American Morning With Paula Zahn” (449,000 viewers, up 163 percent year to year).

Fox’s “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren” (762,000 viewers, up 68 percent compared with “The Edge With Paula Zahn” the year before) beat CNN’s “NewsNight with Aaron Brown” (713,000 viewers, up 71 percent compared with “Spin Room” the year before). “NewsNight” had won the viewership battle in April. Finishing third in May was MSNBC’s “Alan Keyes is Making Sense” (235,000 viewers, down 9 percent).

Fox also won the demographics race, finishing first among the key news demo of persons 25 to 54 as well as persons 18 to 34 and 18 to 49. However, CNN claimed the biggest percentage of growth among viewers 18 to 34.

Meanwhile, “The News with Brian Williams,” which is scheduled to become a CNBC-only newscast later this year, averaged 322,000 viewers at 8 p.m. on MSNBC (up 27 percent against the time period the year before) and 313,000 in its 10 p.m. CNBC run.

Anna Nicole Smith to be E! reality: Anna Nicole Smith will be getting the “Osbournes” treatment with her own reality series, featuring her family and friends, set to debut on E! Networks in August.

Ms. Smith is the former Playboy Playmate and Guess jeans model who recently was awarded $89 million after a lengthy legal battle with the son of her late husband, a multimillionaire octogenarian whom she married when she was 23 years old and he was 86.

The show will be a “look at the life and spectacle of this modern-day Marilyn Monroe and her unique circle of family and friends, including her 16-year-old son Daniel, her buttoned-down attorney Howard and her purple-haired assistant Kim, who proudly wears an Anna Nicole tattoo on her upper arm,” according to an E! statement.

Mindy Herman, president and CEO, E! Networks, compared Ms. Smith to the “classic female TV characters” of the 1960s and ’70s. “Unlike Mary Tyler Moore, however, Anna Nicole will throw caution and not her hat to the wind, and have a lot more fun along the way,” Ms. Herman said.

Although Ms. Smith’s reality-based series would seem to be part of the inevitable attack of the “Osbournes” clones, it actually has been in development at E! since before the hit MTV series debuted, an E! spokeswoman said. E! has committed to six episodes of the show but may go to 13, according to the spokeswoman.

Jewett, Nachman take producing, consulting roles on ‘John Walsh’: Former “Donahue” producer Alexandra Jewett has been named executive producer and Jerry Nachman has been named executive consultant for the upcoming NBC Enterprises first-run talk show “The John Walsh Show.” Ed Wilson, president, NBC Enterprises announced the appointments today.

Set to premiere this fall, the one-hour, daily “John Walsh Show” will be produced by NBC Studios and distributed in national syndication by NBC Enterprises.

Corcoran joins Hallmark Channel: Therese Corcoran, assistant director of advertising and promotion for American Movie Classics, has joined Hallmark Channel as director, advertising sales and alliance marketing. Previously, Ms. Corcoran managed stations relations for Worldvision.

AT&T Broadband adds Wisdom Television to DTV offerings: AT&T Broadband and Wisdom Media Group have entered into a distribution agreement for Wisdom Television, the companies said today. Wisdom Television is a 24-hour network devoted to mind, body, spirit and general wellness. AT&T Broadband will add the channel to its basic digital lineup beginning July 1.

Court TV to employ MyDTV promotional service: Court TV has signed with MyDTV, a technology company focused on providing systems and services that personalize content distribution for digital cable, to bring the MyDTV PromoLogic promotion service to Court TV viewers. The new service works with Court TV’s existing technology and will help the programmer gain viewers by promoting viewer-selected court trials and other Court TV programming focusing on real stories of investigation and forens
ics, across whichever channel viewers may be watching.

PromoLogic is a cross-channel promotional service that delivers pop-up alerts or promotions for viewer-specified programming content across all channels.

(c) Copyright 2002 by Crain Communications