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Jun 27, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Promax/BDA to give itself thorough review

Despite the uptick in tempo and attitude at the Promax & BDA convention, organizers are looking hard at the fiscal health of the organization. Sources said that at a board meeting earlier in the week Promax Chairman Mark Stroman called for a thorough review of the organization’s spending habits. A panel will be put together to examine Promax’s budget, including items for executive positions and divisions throughout the organization.

“Any board would scrutinize the way its board is run, so [that] it’s run leanly and efficiently-especially in this economy,” said Glynn Brailsford, president and CEO of Promax/BDA. Mr. Brailsford noted that the organization is exploring new cost-efficient revenue streams, including the ratings road show that will travel the country beginning next month.

NBC will beat growth projections: In 2003 NBC will beat its projected 15 percent growth in 2002 pre-tax earnings, said Bob Wright, NBC chairman and CEO at an annual gathering of industry analysts in New York today. Revenues are expected to rise 10 percent to nearly $7 billion, he said. “Our strong double-digit growth will continue because we already have sold so much of our time into next year,” he said. NBC’s third-quarter scatter time is sold-out at prices that generally were 10 percent to 15 percent above 2001 upfront levels.

NBC is making $150 million in cost cuts this year, on the heels of $350 million in cost cuts in 2001, and has eliminated 1,200 jobs since 2000. The NBC TV Network, the most profitable of its peers, will post a 10 percent to 15 percent gain in 2002 pre-tax income from last year’s $500 million. NBC’s broadcast and cable news operations collectively will generate $260 million in pre-tax profits this year, NBC officials said.

NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker said NBC Productions will ramp up over the next three years to own and produce 70 percent of NBC’s prime-time programs, compared with 44 percent today. In addition to driving its syndication revenue stream, NBC will more aggressively capitalize on its news and nonfiction program production.

Jay Ireland, president of NBC TV Stations, said the NBC owned TV station group will realize $10 million in savings, having cut 70 percent of its costs in recent years by centralizing and digitizing its operations. Stations’ 2002 pre-tax earnings will likely grow 25 percent from last year’s $550 million, boosted partly by Telemundo, on a 15 percent rise in overall revenues. He said there is a $20 billion-plus revenue opportunity for NBC owned and Telemundo stations to snare a bigger portion of all local media ad expenditures, and that NBC’s TV stations will generate $100 million in new revenues in 2002. NBC’s overall cable pre-tax income will remain flat from last year’s $360 million.

Cable, syndication 1Q ad revenues down: First-quarter 2002 advertising revenues, compared with the same quarter last year, were down 13.7 percent for cable television (to $2.141 billion from $2.482 billion) and down 12.5 percent for syndicated TV (to $709 million from $811 million), according to the latest data from Competitive Media Reporting. TV advertising venues that posted revenue increases for the quarter, according to CMR, included Spanish-language network TV up 21.2 percent (to $504 million from $415 million); broadcast network TV up 6.6 percent (to $5.563 billion from $5.281 billion); and spot TV up 2.5 percent (to $3.628 billion from $3.539 billion).

Top advertisers for the quarter for all media included General Motors, spending $609 million, up 9.7 percent compared with the same time period last year; Proctor & Gamble, spending nearly $480 million, an increase of 12.3 percent; and AOL Time Warner, spending more than $406 million, a rise of almost 4 percent.

The Walt Disney Co, Verizon Communications, Toyota Motor Co. and Pfizer, all of which are on CMR’s top 10 advertisers list, also increased their first-quarter spending. Top advertisers that trimmed their first-quarter ad budgets, compared with last year, include Philip Morris Cos., DaimlerChrysler and Ford Motor Co.

Lifetime launching consumer mag: Lifetime is taking its brand to the magazine stand with the introduction of a women’s magazine to be called Lifetime and scheduled for a March 2003 launch. The magazine will be a joint production of Lifetime Entertainment Services, which is owned by The Hearst Corp. and The Walt Disney Co., and Hearst Magazines. Sally Koslow, the former editor in chief of McCall’s, will be the new magazine’s editor in chief. Lifetime the magazine will debut as a bimonthly, with plans to go monthly beginning with the September 2003 issue, and it will cover fashion, beauty, food, decorating, health and news.

Nine DTV stations launch: Nine more TV stations have started transmitting a digital signal, according to the National Association of Broadcasters. The stations are: WVLT-TV Knoxville, Tenn.; WGBX-TV Boston; WZDX-TV Huntsville, Ala.; WUPA-TV Atlanta; WIVB-TV, Buffalo, N.Y.; KSTW-TV Seattle; WWMT-TV Grand Rapids, Mich.; WNET-TV New York; WLFI-TV, Lafayette, Ind. This brings to 431 the number of stations broadcasting in digital.

NAB wants lawmakers to block EchoStar-DirecTV deal: The National Association of Broadcasters and other organizations sent a letter yesterday to all members of Congress underscoring their opposition to the merger of EchoStar and DirecTV. The letter is signed by leaders of the NAB, American Cable Association, National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, American Antitrust Institute and USAction. In it, the organizations cite long-standing concerns about the merger, particularly EchoStar’s promise to institute a nationwide pricing plan, a promise the letter says is “riddled with uncertainties.”

Miller exits USA Interactive: Jon Miller, president and CEO of USA Interactive’s Information and Services Group, is leaving the company to join General Catalyst Partners as CEO of a new portfolio company.

Sony exec to head MTA: Ed Grebow was named president of the Metropolitan Television Alliance, a coalition of New York-area TV stations that is trying to find a site for a new TV tower to replace those destroyed at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. Mr. Grebow will leave Sony Electronics, where he is deputy president.

‘Chung Tonight’ bow impresses, but not ‘O’Reilly Factor’: CNN’s premiere of “Connie Chung Tonight” on Monday night generated a 0.9 rating in households and 858,000 total viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research national data. Ms. Chung’s new 8 p.m.-to-9 p.m. (ET) talk show-debuting with comedian Jon Stewart as her first guest-saw its initial viewer count register 83 percent growth over the year-ago Monday (June 25, 2001), when CNN drew 468,000 total viewers. However, Ms. Chung’s first bow on CNN was greatly overshadowed by Fox News Channel’s opposing run of “The O’Reilly Factor” Tuesday night. The show drew a 2.0 rating in households and 2.1 million total viewers during the 8 p.m. hour. For host Bill O’Reilly the latest numbers represent 110 percent growth over his year-ago head count of 1.0 million viewers and held a 145 percent advantage over “Connie’s” headcount.