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Oct 21, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Posted Monday, Oct. 21

Cable firms OK reporting plan

In an unprecedented show of unity, the 11 publicly reporting cable operators signed off on voluntary guidelines to provide more consistent details of industry operating metrics. The move comes in response to growing concerns and confusion among investors amid accounting-related probes, scandals and growing service complexities, which have helped drive down cable stock prices 70 percent this year. But the guidelines do not alter or impact standard accounting procedures.

The announcement came today during a New York meeting of chief executives and other top officials of the 11 cable companies, working with the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. Among the particulars: uniformly detailing capital expenditures and redefining customer relationships and revenue-generating units correlating to new businesses. Comcast will reflect the details in its third-quarter earnings report next week, although companies do not have to comply until first quarter 2003.

Comcast President Brian Roberts, whose company will become the largest cable operator when it acquires AT&T Broadband, led a discussion with investors and media with Jim Robbins, Cox Cable chief executive; Carl Vogel, Charter Communications chief executive; Glenn Britt, Time Warner Cable chief executive, and Michael Willner, NCTA chairman and Insight Communications CEO. “There has been increased scrutiny of capital expenditures. The business is more complicated than ever before, and therefore, giving more of a breakout allows people to make their own judgments,” Mr. Roberts said.

Bowen Foundation links with Viacom: The Emma L. Bowen Foundation has found a new home and partner in the Viacom Television Stations Group.

The not-for-profit organization, founded in 1989 to offer a five-year program preparing minority students for media careers, had been housed at ABC. It is moving into offices across the street from the CBS Broadcast Center in New York and at CBS Studio Center in Los Angeles.

It’s another way in which Viacom stations group Chief Operating Officer Dennis Swanson, who is chairman of the board of directors for the foundation, is putting his signature on the 39-station group he joined last summer, although it is Viacom stations group President Fred Reynolds’ name that will be on the checks.

“We strive to reflect the communities we serve, and having a pipeline to strong minority talent is of paramount importance for our company,” Mr. Reynolds said in announcing the change.

Seventy percent of the 120 students who have graduated from the program have embarked on careers with the major broadcast and cable networks and station groups. Some 127 students are now participating in the program.

“Their track record is proof that we can play a vital role in helping talented and deserving minority students achieve great success in this industry,” Mr. Swanson said.

Lynn Heymont, CBS’s Los Angeles-based human resources VP, is the foundation’s West Coast vice chairperson.

Discovery jumps with LeapFrog: Discovery Networks has done a fourth-quarter cross-platform advertising deal with LeapFrog Enterprises, a provider of technology-based learning products, for exposure across the Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Discovery Health Channel and The Science Channel.

A LeapFrog interactive talking hand-held product called iQuest will be tagged in the Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge 30-second vignettes that will air throughout the quarter across the participating Discovery networks

Fessel assumes research post at ABC: Andrew Fessel has been named senior VP of research for ABC Television Network. Mr. Fessel, whose career started 25 years ago at KGO-TV and the ABC-owned stations group and who headed research at Fox Broadcasting in the late ’80s and early ’90s, will be based in Los Angeles. His recent positions have included heading up research for DreamWorks Television and serving as director of marketing database and research for Microsoft Interactive Media Group.

Executive switches at A&E, History: Abbe Raven will become executive VP and general manager of A&E Network and Dan Davids will become executive VP and general manager of the History Channel.

The two executives are essentially trading positions. Mr. Davids, formerly The History Channel’s GM, has been EVP and GM at A&E since 2000. Ms. Raven, formerly head of programming at the History Channel, has been the History Channel’s EVP and GM since 2000.

The executive switch was announced by Nick Davatzes, president and CEO of A&E Television Networks, who told Electronic Media that one purpose of the executive rotation was to put an experienced programmer into position at A&E as program planning season for 2003-2004 gets underway. A&E has been without a seasoned program developer since Allen Sabinson’s abrupt resignation this past summer. “Abbe has spent her life in the programming production world,” Mr. Davatzes said. “This allows us to … move ahead while we continue the search [for Mr. Sabinson’s replacement].”

In related moves, Michael Mohamad will join Mr. Davids at The History Channel as the senior VP of marketing. Mr. Mohamad has spent the past six years in a similar capacity at A&E Network. Artie Scheff will join Ms. Raven at A&E Network as the senior VP of marketing. For the past seven years, Mr. Scheff wast the History Channel’s senior VP of marketing.

Game Show Network promotes two: At Game Show Network, Tim Duffy has been promoted to director of development from manager of development and Michael Bevan, formerly a consultant to GSN, has been named director of development.

The two appointments were announced by Kevin Belinkoff, VP, programming, to whom both men will report.

Food Network puts reality on the menu: Food Network is cooking up reality series for spring, including “Date Plate,” its first-ever dating show, “Food Fight,” a culinary team contest, and “Cooking School Stories,” a look at nine culinary students at the Art Institute of California.

The new shows were unveiled by Eileen Opatut, the network’s senior VP, programming and production. “Reality is a natural progression for us based on the popularity of our cooking competitions like ‘Iron Chef.’ … This is clearly the kind of programming our audience craves,” Ms. Opatut said.

Football Network to carry flag/touch championships: The Football Network, which is scheduled to debut as a full-time network next fall, has signed a four-year deal to carry the championship games of the United States Flag and Touch Football League.