Advance/Newhouse, Time Warner Cable restructure partnership
Advance/Newhouse Communications will take an active management role in some of the cable systems in its partnership with Time Warner Cable. Advance/Newhouse will manage systems in Central Florida; Tampa Bay, Fla.; Birmingham, Ala; Indianapolis; Bakersfield, Calif.; Detroit; and several smaller systems in Alabama and northern Florida. When Advance/Newhouse assumes management of those systems later this year, the assets and liabilities and operations of the systems will no longer be included in AOL Time Warner or Time Warner Entertainment’s financial statements. Time Warner Cable will continue some management functions, including programming, for all of the partnerships systems. Time Warner Cable itself will fully manage cable systems serving 10.8 million subscribers when the deal is done.
PBS creating showcase for Burns: Ken Burns, the noted documentary filmmaker behind such seminal series as “The Civil War, “Baseball” and “Jazz,” is about to get a new showcase for his long-form projects. PBS will re-launch a digitally remastered version of “The Civil War” to air over five nights beginning Sunday, Sept. 22, 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. (ET). Following that comes “Ken Burns American Stories” to air on weekly basis, starting with “The Statue of Liberty” on Monday, Sept. 30, 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.
S&P puts Omnicom on CreditWatch: Standard & Poor’s said today that it has placed its single-A long-term and A-1 short-term corporate credit ratings on advertising holding company Omnicom Group on CreditWatch with negative implications based on continued concerns as recent controversies at the company linger. New York-based Omnicom had total debt outstanding of approximately $2.9 billion and cash balances of more than $500 million as of March 31, 2002. “Standard & Poor’s is concerned about the recently filed shareholder lawsuits and the SEC’s request for information about two independent board members’ departures and about the severing of its audit firm, Arthur Andersen,” said S&P credit analyst Alyse Michaelson. The company has engaged a new audit firm and is taking other steps to help ameliorate concerns. The CreditWatch listing could be resolved in one to four weeks, according to S&P.
Reality rules: On an otherwise repeat-laden Sunday night, reality fare such as Fox’s “Bachelorettes in Alaska” and NBC’s “Crime & Punishment” were among the few shows to attract viewership last night. “Bachelorettes” won the 9 p.m. hour in adults 18 to 49 (2.7/8), according to Nielsen Media Research fast national data. Compared with its previous week’s airing (2.1/6), “Bachelorettes” recorded 29 percent growth in its latest outing and held even with its two-hour lead-in comedy block. NBC’s “Crime & Punishment,” from Dick Wolf, the producer of its hit “Law & Order” franchise, turned its second weekly bow into a winning 3.0/9 score in adults 18 to 49 during the closing 10 p.m. hour. “C&P” was off 19 percent from its week-ago premiere score in the demo (3.7/10), when its lead-in was Tiger Woods’ winning the U.S. Open golf championship.
Motorola, WorldGate extend interactive partnership: Motorola and WorldGate Communications, which provides interactive entertainment products for the cable television industry, have extended their relationship for the testing, validation and deployment of interactive television products and applications. The multiyear agreement means continuation of the development of WorldGate’s ITV services for Motorola’s interactive digital set-tops, including the DCT1000, DCT2000, DCT2500 and the high-definition DCT5100 set-top.
“Stranded” scores for Hallmark Channel: “Stranded” was anything but when it came to delivering viewers to the Hallmark Channel. The two-night miniseries attracted nearly 1.3 million viewers to the Hallmark Channel, with “Stranded Part 1” delivering a 1.0 household rating on June 15 and “Stranded Part 2” averaging a 0.8 the following night. Those numbers were good enough to make “Stranded” the network’s second-highest rated original miniseries.
Liberty Broadband acquires Wink: Liberty Media’s Liberty Broadband Interactive Television subsidiary is acquiring Wink Communications for approximately $99 million, or $3 per share, in cash. ITV-technology-provider Wink will continue to operate as a LIBIT subsidiary.