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Jul 12, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Posted Friday, July 12

Kellner warns of PVR fallout

In keeping with his staunch campaign against personal video recorders (PVRs), Turner Broadcasting System Chairman and CEO Jamie Kellner likened the potential revenue losses from “skipped” commercials and disk storage of copyrighted programming to the already massive losses wracking the music industry.

Mr. Kellner, speaking at Turner Networks’ portion of the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Pasadena, Calif., on Friday, estimated that the skipping of commercials could translate to a future cost to U.S. consumers of up to $250 per household annually through cable subscriber fee increases or conversion of advertiser-supported basic cable networks to pay services.

Although he estimated that only 1 million households (or 1 percent of the roughly 80 percent U.S. cable/satellite universe) use PVR devices on a regular basis, Mr. Kellner warned that the future threat of high-speed, high-capacity personal storage devices could present a “real threat” to the TV industry within the next five to seven years.

“Given the opportunity to skip through entire commercial and promotional pods during a network break, I think a large number of consumers would do it, even though the number is not large right now,” said Mr. Kellner, who estimated that 70 percent of PVR users routinely zap through commercials.

Nelson named to KCBS-KCAL post: Former NBC and NBA publicity executive Mike Nelson has been appointed director of communications for Viacom’s KCBS-TV/KCAL-TV duopoly in Los Angeles. Mr. Nelson, who will be responsible for the two stations’ media relations, employee communications and community outreach programs, will report to Don Corsini, president and general manager of the duopoly.

Comedy Central: Comedy Central has given a 12-episode order to “Chappelle’s Show,” a weekly half-hour comedy/variety series starring comedian Dave Chappelle (“Undercover Brother”). The show is set for January 2003. “Contest Searchlight,” a behind-the-scenes look at the development of a comedy series, has a 10-episode order from the network. The reality series, co-conceived by Denis Leary (“The Job”), debuts in August.

Comedy’s “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” will take its “Indecision 2002” political coverage to the nation’s capital for a week of shows set to air in late October. The series will also get repurposed on CNN International, beginning this September, in a late-night weekend edition tailored to viewers outside the United States. Meanwhile, “Trigger Happy TV,” a British hidden-camera series, will debut on Comedy Central this September.

Swanson exits WNBC: Dennis Swanson is retiring after six years as president and general manager of No. 1-ranked WNBC-TV, New York, and Frank Comerford, the executive VP of sales and marketing for NBC-owned stations for the past three years and a former head of sales at WNBC, has been named his successor. The switch takes effect immediately. The announcement had been closely held until Friday at the request of Mr. Swanson, who helped create “The Oprah Winfrey Show” when he was WLS-TV, Chicago, general manager and spent 10 years as president of ABC Sports. He recently was elected national chairman of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Viacom stations lose Rajewski: Ray Rajewski has quietly left his position as executive VP of the Viacom stations group. The exit, which apparently took place within the past few weeks, was described as amicable by a CBS spokesman. Mr. Rajewski had overseen the Paramount Stations Group since the early ’90s. The group, key affiliates when Paramount and Chris-Craft Industries launched UPN in 1995, came under CBS oversight after the merger with Paramount parent Viacom. Mr. Rajewski had most recently focused on smaller-market Viacom-owned stations and reported to Viacom Television Stations Group President Fred Reynolds.

Lippoff exits Cox duopoly: David Lippoff has resigned as VP and general manager of Cox Television’s Orlando duopoly, ABC affiliated WFTV-TV and independent WRDQ-TV. Mr. Lippoff, who has been with Cox 16 years, the past six in Orlando, is headed for another job, though it was unclear late Friday what that job is. Bruce Baker, executive VP of Cox Television, said the search has begun for Mr. Lippoff’s successor.