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Jun 12, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Fiorile elected NAB TV board chairman

The National Association of Broadcasters TV board has elected Michael Fiorile, president and CEO of Dispatch Broadcast Group, as the board’s new chairman. Elected as vice chairman was Andrew Fisher, president of Cox Television. Alan Frank, president and CEO of Post-Newsweek Stations, was named as the TV board’s representative to the association’s executive committee. David Kennedy, president and chief operating officer of Susquehanna Radio Corp., was re-elected as chairman of the NAB’s joint board.

ABC Sports, ESPN to televise WNBA games: The WNBA, the women’s professional basketball league, has reached a new six-year agreement with ABC Sports and ESPN to televise WNBA regular-season and playoff games and additional programming beginning in 2003. Under the deal, ABC Sports will televise regular-season games on Saturday afternoon, as well as a slate of playoff games. ESPN, which has carried WNBA games since the league’s 1997 debut, is extending its relationship an additional six seasons and will televise regular-season and playoff games, plus the All-Star Game and the WNBA Draft.

Martha Stewart stock declines: Uneasy investors sent shares of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia down 12 percent today amid accusations that Ms. Stewart had access to insider information when she sold about 300,000 shares of ImClone shortly before the company’s experimental cancer drug was rejected by the Food and Drug Administration. Spokespersons for Ms. Stewart have denied that she was privy to any such information. Shares of her company’s stock closed at $15.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia shares have declined more than 20 percent since the news of the sale broke last week. ImClone’s former chief executive, a close friend and onetime date of Ms. Stewart, was arrested earlier today charged with conspiracy, securities fraud and perjury in connection with an insider trading scheme on ImClone shares. Analysts say Mr. Stewart is most concerned about a blow to her image.

In a statement released late today, Ms. Stewart broke her silence on the matter, saying that she did not have nonpublic information or contact with Mr. Waksal before selling the ImClone shares.

Univision buys Hispanic Broadcasting: Univision Communications continued to mine the fastest-growing media market by buying Hispanic Broadcasting, the top-ranked Spanish-language radio broadcaster, for $3.5 billion, or a 30 percent premium. The deal calls for each share of Hispanic Broadcasting, which closed Tuesday at $24.45, to be exchanged for .85 shares of Univision common stock, which closed down $1.35 per share to $37.70 in Tuesday’s down market. Los Angeles-based Univision already commands 70 percent of the Spanish-language television market and owns three record labels. The deal, which makes Univision a one-stop shop for Spanish-language advertisers, promoters and investors, is seen as a blow to NBC-owned Telemundo, which has been struggling to regroup and strengthen as a distant No. 2.

Tennis on demand, anyone? This year’s Wimbeldon Championship coverage on TNT and CNNfn will employ numerous interactive telecast enhancements, including polls, trivia, stats and e-commerce information for consumers with Wink Communications-enabled set-top boxes; a video-on-demand package of eight classic Wimbledon matches, including the 1975 Ashe vs. Connors final and the 1980 and 1981 Bjorn Borg vs. John McEnroe finals; and both wireless content and a live audio simulcast for AOL subscribers. Coverage begins Monday, June 24.

Fergie signs on to host talk show: As had been expected (EM 5/13), Universal Television Enterprises has announced that Sarah Ferguson, The Duchess of York, has signed a development deal to host “Fergie,” a, one-hour syndicated talk-variety strip set to debut in the 2003-04 season. Amy Rosenblum has been tapped to develop and executive produce the series.

‘American Idol’ tops Tuesday night charts: Fox’s 90-minute debut Tuesday night of the reality competition “American Idol: Search for Superstars” turned in unexpected across-the-board wins in the key adult demos, households and total viewers. Billed as “Star Search” meets “The Gong Show,” “American Idol” provided Fox a good omen for things to come, as the show grew 38 percent from its first to last half-hour frames among adults 18 to 49.

For the 8:30 p.m.-to-10 p.m. (ET) span, “American Idol” clocked in with top-ranked scores in adults 18 to 49 (4.8 rating/14 share), adults 18 to 34 (6.3/14), households (6.2/11) and total viewers (9.9 million), according to preliminary Nielsen Media Research fast national data. During the course of the broadcast, “Idol” also improved 33 percent in total viewers (8.3 million vs. 11.1 million) and 28 percent in households (5.3/10 vs. 6.8/11) from the first to last half-hour frames, making it the most viewed TV show for the span.

Fox won the night in adults 18 to 49 (4.5/14), improving 96 percent from its week-ago score in the demo (2.3 rating). Fox also won Tuesday in total viewers (9.1 million). NBC came in second in adults 18 to 49 (3.0/9), followed by ABC (2.7/8) and CBS (2.3/7). CBS, which featured “AFI’s 100 Years …100 Passions” special across its entire prime time, won the night in households (6.2/11) and came in second in total viewers (8.6 million).

Among local metered markets, Miami’s Fox affiliate WSVN-TV blew out the competition. It was the No. 1 show in primetime last night getting a 10.3 Nielsen Media research rating and 14 share average for the 90 minute program. It beat out the second highest rated show that night “AFI Awards” on CBS-owned WFOR-TV, which got a 7.5/11. In Los Angeles, where the contestants end up, Fox-owned KTTV also got the highest rated primetime show at a 10.4/16 for the entire show. It peaked at the last quarter hour with a 12.8/18.

Shatner to host horror movies on Sci-Fi: William Shatner will host Saturday late-night movies on Sci Fi Channel beginning July 20. “William Shatner’s Full Moon Fright Night” will feature what the network calls “13 not-quite-Oscar-caliber horror films from the vaults of B-picture specialist Full Moon Pictures. Titles include “Killjoy,” “Ragdoll” and “Shrunken Heads.”

Showtime Networks gains rights to ‘Daddy and Them’: Showtime Networks has acquired U.S. premiere rights to “Daddy and Them,” a Miramax film written and directed by Billy Bob Thornton, who also stars along with Laura Dern, Diane Ladd, Kelly Preston, Andy Griffith, Brenda Blethyn and the late Jim Varney. Jamie Lee Curtis and Ben Affleck make cameo appearances. The film, a tale of murder and family set in Arkansas, will premiere in 2003.

‘Wiggles’ added to Playhouse Disney’s summer schedule: “The Wiggles,” featuring an Australian group that sings and dances to original, upbeat songs promoting values and social behavior for preschoolers, will join Disney Channel’s popular learning-based programming block Playhouse Disney as a daily summertime half-hour series. The series is distributed by Lyrick Studios, a division of HIT Entertainment. It also airs on international Disney Channels in Australia, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, and parts of Asia and Saudi Arabia, and on other channels throughout the world. The U.S. season of 39 episodes begins June 17.

(c) Copyright 2002 by Crain Communications