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Sep 9, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Posted Monday, Sept. 9

America Online will miss revenue targets

AOL Time Warner said early today advertising at its America Online unit is coming up short and the unit will miss its previously stated targets. But the company as a whole remains on track to reach the low end of its 2002 guidance, meaning a 5 percent rise in overall revenues and earnings, if it’s lucky.

Citing “continued softness” in online advertising, AOL Time Warner said it is lowering its 2002 outlook for its America Online unit, putting advertising commerce and ad revenue at $1.7 billion, with a built-in 5 percent downside risk. Its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization are expected to be within a range of $1.7 billion to $1.8 billion. That gives the America Online unit a modest $17 billion market value, using an average 10 times multiple. Wayne Pace, the company’s chief financial officer, is expected to elaborate this evening at the Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Global Communications Conference.

Peter Barton, Liberty Media’s founding president, dies: Peter Barton, 51, the founding president of Liberty Media, died at his Denver-area home Sunday from stomach cancer. After working as a top aide to former New York Gov. Hugh Carey, the Harvard Business School graduate went to work for John Malone and Liberty in 1982 negotiating cable franchises. He struck many of the deals that placed Liberty in the forefront of programming, launching such services as QVC.

“Peter was there at the inception of Liberty Media and its subsequent versions, and he was critically important in building it into what it was,” Liberty Chairman John Malone said in a statement. “He was a hell of a lot of fun — a breath of fresh air. I’m going to miss him.”

Mr. Barton resigned in 1997 to manage his own private investment firm and spend more time with his family. He recently established the Privacy Foundation, an independent watchdog group protecting consumer privacy. He was to be inducted into the cable industry Hall of Fame in a Nov. 11 ceremony. He is survived by his wife, Laura, and three children.

Faust becomes Optinel CEO: Jim Faust, a cable technology veteran, has been named CEO of Optinel Systems, a privately held provider of optical communication systems for the broadband cable market.

Mr. Faust has held senior management positions with ClearBand, General Instrument and Scientific-Atlanta, among others, and in 1977 founded Zenith Cable Products, which introduced some of the first advanced set-top systems to the cable industry.

Mr. Faust currently serves on the board of directors for Arris Cabletel and Optinel Systems. He was previously president and chief operating officer of Antec Network Technologies, now Arris.

‘Futurama’ headed to Cartoon Network: Cartoon Network has acquired cable rights to “Futurama,” Matt Groening’s animated science-fiction comedy currently airing on Fox Broadcasting, and will use the high-profile series to anchor its Adult Swim block, its late-night programming block aimed at adults 18 to 34, beginning in January 2003.

Mr. Groening is best known for creating “The Simpsons,” also on Fox. He created “Futurama,” which debuted in 1999, with David Cohen.

NBC orders extreme-stunt series: NBC has ordered three episodes of “Adrenaline X,” a high-risk-stunt reality series pitting extreme athletes from around the world against each other. It will be produced by Reveille LLD (a Vivendi Universal Entertainment studio headed by former William Morris agent Ben Silverman), Teton Gravity Research and NBC Studios.

Jeff Gaspin, NBC’s executive VP of alternative series, long form and program strategy, said “Adrenaline X” will “take the increasingly popular extreme sports genre to the next level. … The jeopardy is real. In each episode, athletes will face off in three challenges encompassing all the demands of a single extreme sport that will push the athletes to the limit — and then perhaps one step further.”

‘Amazing Race 3’ lineup unveiled: The contestants for “Amazing Race 3,” announced today by CBS, include a strong representation of people (and professions) with ties to the two largest TV markets in the country. Among the 12 teams of two contestants each are a Long Beach, Calif., policeman and a Los Angeles fireman, a public relations person and a production assistant from New York, twin brothers who are an actor-model and a photographer living in Los Angeles, New York brothers who are a casting director and a financial consultant, and two law school roommates who have recently graduated.

Style premieres set for Fashion Week: As previously announced, Style, the E! Networks fashion, beauty, home and entertaining network, will premiere two new series, “Style Star” and “Fashiontrance,” during New York’s upcoming Fashion Week.

“Style Star” will feature one celebrity and her fashion sensibility as it has evolved through the years, beginning with singer/actress Jennifer Lopez in the opening episode on Sept 22.

“Fashiontrance” will feature fashion shows set to dance trance beats. The debut episode, on Sept. 20, will feature designers Michael Kors, Oscar De La Renta, Donna Karan and Catherine Malandrino.

ESPN casts Berenger as Bear Bryant: Actor Tom Berenger (“Platoon,” “Fear City”), who specializes in tough-guy roles, will tackle the role of real-life tough-guy football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant in “The Junction Boys,” ESPN’s second original movie.

“Boys,” based on a book by Jim Dent, tells the fact-based story of 35 rookie players who survived Coach Bryant’s harrowing Texas A&M preseason college football training camp in desolate, drought-ridden Junction, Texas, in 1954. The movie, set to begin production Sept. 16 in Australia, will premiere on ESPN on Dec. 14.