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Sep 10, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Posted Tuesday, Sept. 10

Fox Movie Channel, National Geographic top survey

Fox Movie Channel and National Geographic Channel scored highest among emerging/digital cable networks in the latest Beta Research Corp. want-to-see survey of potential viewers.

Other emerging/digital networks with a top 10 want-to-see quotient were, in descending order, Discovery Civilization Channel, the Biography Channel, History International, the Science Channel, FamilyNet, Lifetime Movie Network, Weatherscan Local and Do It Yourself Network.

The survey tested attitudes toward 76 cable networks, grouped into three categories: emerging/digital, midsized and premium plex.

The 2002 Beta study was the first to measure teen interest. Top-ranked networks among teens were, in descending order, MTV2, Fox Movie Channel, VH1 Mega Hits, MTV Hits, MTV Jams and MuchMusic.

Top-ranked midsized networks among adults were, in descending order, Turner Classic Movies, Discovery Health Channel, WGN and Hallmark Channel.

Top-ranked premium plex networks were, in descending order, HBO Family, Showtime Family Zone, HBO2, HBO Comedy and 5 StarMax.

The Beta Cable Subscriber Interest study was a telephone survey of 1,004 cable subscribers conducted in June. Respondents expressed interest levels on a 1-through-5 scale based on brief descriptions of the various networks.

AOL TW will not widen probe: AOL Time Warner will not widen its internal probe of its online division accounting matters to other company operations, CEO Richard Parsons said today in London, where he made his first international address.

The company is eyeing broadcast properties in the U.K. and Europe. “The international marketplace is very attractive to us” at the right price, Mr. Parsons told the Royal Television Society, according to British press accounts.

Meanwhile, AOL Time Warner Chief Financial Officer Wayne Pace told investors at the Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Global Communications conference Monday night that the ongoing restructuring of America Online eventually will yield “more media-rich” advertising. Mr. Pace indicated AOL Time Warner intends to hang on to its embattled America Online unit. “It’s a business we want to own,” he said, but he declined comment that AOL Time Warner is seeking to sell its partial stakes in Comedy Central and Court TV.

Still, UBS Warburg analyst Christopher Dixon says the “execution risk has risen” at America Online. Some analysts again are downgrading AOL Time Warner and lowering their overall earnings and revenues estimates for the media giant, since it announced Monday that the 2002 advertising and commerce revenues of its America Online unit will come in lower than originally expected, possibly dipping 5 percent below the new target of $1.7 billion. Full-year earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization also are expected to come in around $1.7 billion. AOL Time Warner has left its overall 2002 guidance unchanged, saying total revenues and earnings each should rise about 5 percent, at the lower end of the original target growth range.

‘Walsh’ has strong debut: Week No. 2 of the new syndicated launches found three rookie strips entering the broadcast wars, and the results from day one found John Walsh atop the latest batch of shows, according to Nielsen metered market ratings.

NBC Enterprises’ “The John Walsh Show” debuted with a tribute to the victims of 9/11. The show opened in 48 metered markets with a 1.6 rating and 5 share, averaging a drop of 2 share points form its lead-in but running even with its August time period performances despite a running audio glitch during the second half of the show. Although the series boosted its New York time slot by 36 percent compared with previous scores, the series was still down 4 share points from its lead-in.

Paramount’s “Life Moments” opened up with a 1.2/4 in 48 metered markets, off a share point from both its lead-in and its August 2002 timeslots. However, in New York and Los Angeles, the strip managed to hold or increase its numbers over the show’s lead-in.

Telco’s independent run of “We the Jury” found tougher times in 12 metered markets, where it averaged a 0.3 rating and a 1 share, down from August’s 0.6/1. The show’s lead-in was a 0.5/1.

Zenith revises ad outlook upward: No advertising recovery yet.

That’s the bearish word from Zenith Optimedia Group, which predicts that overall 2002 ad spending in the United States will decline by just 0.1 percent compared with last year. Nonetheless, that’s an upturn from the most recent Zenith forecast in June.

That prediction comes in Zenith’s just-released quarterly update of its forecast for the seven biggest advertising markets worldwide.

The changes in Zenith’s recent quarterly forecasts provide a telling marker for a fevered year in the American advertising business: In June 2001, Zenith forecast that U.S. 2002 spending would rise 4.7 percent over 2001; in December 2001, Zenith said that 2002 U.S. spending would decline 1.5 percent from. 2001; in April of this year, Zenith revised its 2002 U.S. spending downward, to a 1.8 decline from 2001; then just this past June, Zenith predicted 2002 U.S. spending would decline by just 1.2 percent.

Finally, this month, the forecast is for a 0.1 percent decline for the year. For the United States, this latest forecast adds $1.6 billion to the major-media spend in 2002, which brings the year almost even with 2001 in cash dollars. This increase is mainly fueled by heavy spending in local markets by political candidates, auto, retail, telecoms and movie studios, according to Zenith.

Local TV, local radio and out-of-home inventory is tight in the second half, so prices are firm in those areas, according to Zenith. The 2002-03 TV upfront only appeared to be strong, according to the forecast, but actually represented a hedging of bets against the possibility of another tight scatter market in 2003, rather than an influx of new demand.

McNamara promoted at ABC: Julie McNamara (formerly Julie Pinchuk), who has developed “Push, Nevada” and “That Was Then” for ABC’s 2002-03 lineup, has been promoted to VP of drama programming for the network. Ms. McNamara, who developed the hit “Alias,” will report to Thom Sherman, senior VP of drama programming. Ms. McNamara had been as assistant to the president of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in New York before joining ABC as an assistant in the drama series department in 1997.

Prazenica becomes GM of WTVD: Bernie Prazenica has been named president and general manager of WTVD-TV, the ABC-owned station in Raleigh-Durham, N.C. He succeeds Valari Dobson Staab, who recently was named general manager of ABC-owned KGO-TV in San Francisco.

Mr. Prazenica has been director of sales at ABC-owned WPVI-TV in Philadelphia since 1994 and has been with the ABC stations group for two decades, including assignments with ABC National TV Sales in Philadelphia.

WB schedules trailer for ‘Harry Potter’ sequel: The WB will air the world premiere of the first full-length trailer for “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” during the 8 p.m.-to-9 p.m. premiere of “Family Affair” on Thursday and again Friday during the encore of the series that updates the ’60s sitcom. “Chamber of Secrets,” the second in the series of movie adaptations of the hit books, opens in American and British theaters Nov. 15.