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Aug 26, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Posted Monday, Aug. 26

Jennings mum on contract status

Let the speculation continue. “World News Tonight” anchor Peter Jennings refuses to say whether he has or hasn’t agreed to a new contract, as indicated by a flurry of speculation that produced a handful of published reports over the weekend. The prevailing theme is that he has agreed to agree to stay with ABC News, which appears to have staved off an attempt by parent company Walt Disney to whack as much as 25 percent off Mr. Jennings’ salary, thought to be upwards of $10 million a year.

At a breakfast preview today of his Sept. 3-7 series (and companion book) “In Search of America,” Mr. Jennings was asked the contract question. He said he never has commented on such matters and doesn’t plan to start now. He cited privacy and his feeling that such coverage is a distraction from his primary role as anchor. “I’m at least consistent,” said Mr. Jennings, who invited attendees to “infer” that he was “very excited” about “Search for America” and the news division’s plans for coverage on the anniversary of Sept. 11.

Nor was there any comment on whether Mr. Jennings, who has been doing “Peter Jennings Reporting” specials since 1989, has a commitment for a specific number of prime-time specials in the future.

“We work all that out between us,” ABC News President David Westin said, adding that such projects are “the right thing to do.”

Mr. Jennings did allow that he had “never seen any indication … they are going to stop doing these hours in prime time.”

Clear Channel names regional VPs: Clear Channel Television President Bill Moll is streamlining his division’s reporting structure by naming five of his station executives regional VPs.

KCBA-TV and KION-TV general manager Mark Faylor will oversee the North Coast Group consisting of Monterey-Salinas, Santa Rosa and Eureka in California and in Eugene, Ore.

Former Ackerley regional executive Steve Kimatian will oversee the New York Group stations in Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, Binghamton, Elmira, Ithaca and Watertown.

Don Perry of KMOL-TV and KPXL-TV will oversee the Southwest Group stations in San Antonio, Tulsa and Wichita.

Former Ackerley executive Dave Reid will oversee the Northwest Group stations in Bellingham, Wash.-Vancouver, B.C., and Fairbanks, Alaska.

KSTU-TV’s Steve Spendlove will oversee the Central Coast Group stations in Salt Lake City and in Bakersfield, Fresno and Santa Maria/Santa Barbara/San Luis Obispo.

Mr. Moll will continue to have direct oversight of Clear Channel’s Continental Group of stations in Cincinnati, Little Rock, Memphis, Jacksonville, Fla., Mobile, Ala., and Harrrisburg, Penn.

‘Donahue’ hits nadir: “Donahue” got caught in ratings undertow Friday, when the five-week-old MSNBC show registered what appears to be its lowest viewership yet: an average of 136,000 viewers for the hour. His competition at 8 o’clock, Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Report” and CNN’s “Connie Chung tonight,” attracted 1.059 million viewers and 599,999 viewers, respectively.

MSNBC has been arguing that its prime-time audience is least likely to be home in late August, but the MSNBC shows on either side of “Donahue” racked up noticeably higher numbers. “Nachman” at 7 p.m. averaged 201,000 viewers (vs. “Fox Report With Shepard Smith” at 964,000 viewers and CNN’s “Crossfire” with 584,000). At 9 p.m., “Hardball With Chris Matthews” averaged 204,000 viewers (vs. CNN’s “Larry King Live” with 1.225 million viewers and Fox’s “Hannity & Colmes” with 766,000 viewers).

Wyss predicts upbeat ad market: Standard & Poor economist David Wyss has added his voice to a chorus of generally upbeat advertising forecasts, and CMR, the Taylor Nelson Sofres ad tracking division, has pegged the overall ad spending drop for all media in the first half of the year at just 0.2 percent.

Mr. Wyss predicted a 3.5 growth in TV ad spending, paced by the hot political ad market, with overall ad spending for all media up 2.7 percent in 2002 over last year. He also forecast 5.1 percent ad spending growth overall for 2003.

‘Houston Medical’ patient dies of brain cancer: Dr. Marnie Rose, who allowed viewers of ABC’s summer reality TV series “Houston Medical” to witness her battle with brain cancer, died Friday. She was 28.

She succumbed to the cancer at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center after being hospitalized the day before with pneumonia, her mother, Lanie Rose, told the Associated Press.

Dr. Rose, a pediatric resident at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, appeared on the six-week ABC summer series and made a dramatic first impression when she pulled off her wig to reveal that she was not only a doctor but also a patient.

In the last episode, which aired July 23, viewers learned that Dr. Rose’s tumor had returned, and that the form of the tumor — a glioblastoma — was particularly fatal.

Little League broadcast hits home run for ABC: ABC’s national broadcast Sunday night of the Little League World Series, which had U.S. winner Louisville, Ky., pulling out a 1-0 victory over Sendai, Japan, saw its adults 18 to 49 ratings grow 185 percent over the course of the 6:30 p.m.-to-9 p.m. (ET) telecast. The Williamsport, Pa., championship game won every half-hour frame among adults 18 to 49 for ABC’s 7 p.m.-to-9 p.m. prime-time rotation.

Starting with a 1.4 rating/6 share among adults 18 to 49 for the 6:30 p.m. half-hour frame, the Little League title game kept picking up steam, peaking at a 4.0 /11 score for the 8:30 p.m.-to-9 p.m. span, according to preliminary Nielsen Media Research fast national data. Total viewership increased 127 percent during the same span, going from 5.16 million at 6:30 p.m. to 11.7 million total viewers in the closing frame.

Overall, the 7 p.m.-to-9 p.m. prime-time span of the Little League World Series averaged top-ranked scores in adults 18 to 49 (3.1/10), adults 25 to 54 (3.7/11) and total viewers (9.7 million). The game came in behind only CBS in households (6.1/11 vs. 6.3/12), with CBS getting a top-ranked score from “60 Minutes” (7.0/14) in 7 p.m. hour.

Rohrs to head TVB for second term: Television Bureau of Advertising President Chris Rohrs has re-upped for a second three-year term and will continue to head the nonprofit association, which represents television broadcast groups, advertising sales rep firms and nearly 500 individual stations through the end of 2005.

Mr. Rohrs said he considered his biggest accomplishments to include the push by TVB to move the industry to EDI [electronic data interchange] and the organization’s partnership with the New York Auto Show that led to the 2002 annual conference.

Pax TV launching media campaign: Pax TV, beginning its fifth season this fall, has laid out a multi-tiered media campaign and promotional efforts for its 2002-03 season series premieres.

The centerpiece of the promo campaign is “The Million Dollar Giveaway,” which Pax TV claims will put multiple cash prizes totaling more than $1,000,000 into the hands of “multiple winners” throughout the country. Media elements include local spot radio, local spot cable, online, outdoor in up to 31 markets and national print ads in TV Guide for Pax TV’s new and returning series.

Pax TV’s “Million Dollar Giveaway” will be promoted on more than 1,100 radio stations owned by Clear Channel Communications, with more than 1.6 million promotional announcements between Sept. 16 and Nov. 1.

A&E to air ‘Nightline’ interview: A&E will repurpose the two-part “Nightline” interview with rocker Bruce Springsteen, recently conducted by ABC newsman Ted Koppel. The cable network, partly owned by ABC, will air the interview in its entirety on Sept. 10 at 10 p.m. and again on Sept. 28 at 8 p.m.

In other A&E news, low ratings and high production costs have meant the end for “Nero Wolfe,” the critically well-received one-hour dramatic series starring Timothy Hutton.