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Jun 25, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Adelphia files for Chapter 11

Adelphia Communications, the nation’s sixth largest multiple system operator, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The filing, in New York U.S. Bankruptcy Court, became all but inevitable after Adelphia missed a $96 million bond and stock dividend payment last week.

The Coudersport, Penna.-based company’s problems stem from recent revelations of approximately $3.1 billion in loans to members of its founding Rigas family, many at questionable terms and for questionable purposes. Those revelations have resulted in an SEC investigation and two grand jury probes.

The MSO has recently been delisted by the Nasdaq stock exchange and it remains delinquent on its annual 10-K filing. Members of its board have resigned, citing the company’s questionable practices, and the company has fired its auditors, Deloitte & Touche. Rigas family members, including founder John Rigas, also have resigned from the board and their executive positions and they have agreed to pay the company $1 billion.

Adelphia’s troubles, which have been cited by other cable executives at competing companies as a cause for falling stock prices in the cable sector, come at a time of increased scrutiny for the executives at a number of other high-profile companies, including Enron, WorldCom and ImClone.

‘The Pulse,’ from FNC, gets summer run on FBC: Cable’s Fox News Channel will deploy three of its brightest news stars in a limited-run news magazine that will air on Fox Broadcasting Co., FNC’s sister broadcast network.

“The Pulse,” which will air for nine consecutive weeks, is the first series to be produced by FNC for FBC. Shepard Smith, who anchors “The Fox Report” on FNC will host. Geraldo Rivera, who has been reporting from Afghanistan for FNC and hosting his own FNC weekend show, “War Zone with Geraldo Rivera,” will be “The Pulse’s” chief investigative reporter. And Bill O’Reilly, host of FNC’s “The O’Reilly Factor,” will be featured in commentaries and weekly debates with guests.

“The Pulse” debuts July 11.

Ad spending expected to be up for year: The recent robust broadcast upfront, the rapid growth of Spanish-language television and the coming fall election season are leading the advertising rebound, according to a midyear estimate from CMR, which expects overall ad spending in all media to be up 2.5 percent for the year, to $109.1 billion. This year’s broadcast upfront sales were 14 percent above last year’s, according to CMR.

Hispanic TV grew by 14 percent last year, despite the recession, according to CMR, which predicts 10.4 percent growth for the medium this year. Spanish-language media ad budgets for the top 10 advertisers in Spanish-language media rose to 7 percent of all ad spending by those companies last year, compared with just 2 percent in 1998, according to CMR.

CBS breaks NBC’s total viewers streak: In the first week of the summer without any major sports event programming, CBS won the week ending June 23 in total viewers, breaking NBC’s seven-week string dating back to the end of the 2001-02 season on May 22.

It wasn’t so much CBS having a major increase in summer ratings as it was NBC and the other networks having less sports programming to spike the ratings. CBS won the week of June 17 in prime time among total viewers by improving 2 percent week to week (8.52 million vs. 8.49 million), while NBC slipped 23 percent (7.34 million vs. 9.54 million), according to final Nielsen Media Research data.

NBC, however, held on to win last week in adults 18 to 49 (2.7 rating/9 share), though it was down 27 percent from the previous week (3.7/12). NBC came in second to CBS in households (5.1/9 vs. 6.0/11), slipping 20 percent week to week, while the Eye Network held even.

Thanks to continuing strength from the second week of its “American Idol” talent search series (with a 12th-ranked 9.4 million total viewers on June 19), Fox held second place for the week in adults 18 to 49 (2.6/9).

Wass-Stein promotes Bloys: Casey Bloys has been promoted to director of creative affairs at Touchstone Television-based Wass-Stein Productions. Wass-Stein, headed by Nina Wass and Gene Stein, is set to produce the sitcom “Less Than Perfect” for ABC next fall. Mr. Bloys was manager of creative affairs.

Hage upped at Warner Bros. TV: Melinda Hage has been promoted to senior VP of current programs for Warner Bros. Television, the studio network production division of AOL Time Warner. Ms. Hage, who moves up from VP of current programs, will continue to supervise day-to-day creative aspects of all Warner Bros.-produced TV series.