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Oct 24, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Posted Thursday, Oct. 24

Sniper coverage registers ratings record

The stunning turn of events in the Washington sniper case Wednesday night helped the all-news networks, which already were registering ratings boosts due to interest in the dramatic story, soar to 24-hour ratings highs for the year. Fox News Channel, which had averaged 901,000 viewers for total day since the sniper story broke in early October, averaged 1.674 million viewers for the day, according to data from Nielsen Media Research. CNN, which had averaged 767,000 on sniper-coverage days, attracted an average 1.349 million viewers Wednesday.

MSNBC, which had averaged 434,000 viewers since the first sniper shooting, averaged 676,000 Wednesday. Prime-time viewership spiked to an average of 3.188 million viewers for Fox (peaking with Greta Van Susteren’s 3.798 million from 11 p.m. to midnight Eastern), 2.762 million for CNN and 1.436 million for MSNBC.

Fox Sports utters final ‘Last Word’: Fox Sports Net and Jim Rome have agreed to conclude production of “The Last Word With Jim Rome” earlier than originally announced. The last original “Last Word” will air Nov. 1. Repeats will continue in the show’s time slots through the end of the year, when Mr. Rome’s contract was set to expire. “Best of” episodes also are expected to appear on weekends on Fox Sports Net until summer 2003.

Ross named CBS net sales president: JoAnn Ross has been named president of network Sales for CBS and will be responsible for all network sales for CBS entertainment, sports, daytime, news, late-night, the UPN Network and CBS’s Internet operations.

From the moment her predecessor, the well-regarded Joe Abruzzese, announced his intention to leave the Eye Network to take the top sales spot at Discovery Networks, insiders have pointed to Ms. Ross as a logical candidate to take over the crucial CBS ad sales post.

For the past four years Ms. Ross has been executive VP of sales at CBS. She joined CBS in 1992 as VP of Olympics sales, in charge of network sales for the Lillehammer Winter Olympics in 1994 and the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998.

Her appointment was announced by Leslie Moonves, CBS president and CEO, who said, “[Ms. Ross has] proven she can sell hits like ‘CSI,’ ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ and ’60 Minutes’ while crafting innovative sales strategies for unconventional programming like ‘Survivor’ and last season’s critically acclaimed ‘9/11’ special.”

Her appointment was saluted by the ad sales troops, Mr. Moonves told Electronic Media, who reacted to the news by giving her a standing ovation. Mr. Moonves said her mandate in addition to growing the ad sales pie is “to reach out to the advertising community,” which is looking for new ways to reach viewers.

E! picks up second season of ‘Anna Nicole’: “The Anna Nicole Show,” the most critically maligned new show in recent memory, has been renewed for a second 13-episode season by E! Entertainment Television.

While critics hated it and older audiences deserted it after tuning in to see what the fuss was all about, the series has remained a targeted young-demo phenomenon for E!, averaging a 2.13 household rating and helping the network to its highest-rated quarter ever among adults 18-34, up 20 percent from a year ago, and up 19 percent with adults 18-49.

The series’ second-season production begins next month for debut on E! sometime in early 2003.

Comedy Central goes ‘Mad’: Comedy Central has acquired off-network rights to “Mad TV” from Warner Bros. Domestic Cable Distribution.

The deal is for the first nine seasons of the sketch comedy series, totaling 223 one-hour episodes. “Mad TV” will debut on Jan. 1, 2004.

Viacom confirms 20 percent third-quarter growth forecasts: Could 2003 be “Viacom’s year” without Mel? That’s what analysts were left pondering after an early-morning third-quarter call with Viacom management. During the meeting, Mel Karmazin, president and chief operating officer, confirmed 20 percent earlier 2002 forecasts for growth in overall revenues, operating income and earnings.

The company has conservatively forecast for 2003 a mid-single-digit rise in revenues and double-digit growth in earnings before interest taxes, depreciation and amortization. “In 2002 we are really rocking,” he said, but, “2003 will be Viacom’s year.” There was no mention of the ongoing negotiations to keep Mr. Karmazin by extending his current contract, which ends next year, though Viacom chairman and chief executive Sumner Redstone continues to be highly complimentary of Mel.

“Clearly, the strength of our assets and the talent, commitment and superior execution of our management team, led by Mel Karmazin, have spurred Viacom to excel,” Mr. Redstone said. With increases posted by all of its core businesses, Viacom’s third-quarter net earnings swung into the black to $640 million, or 36 cents per diluted share, from a net loss of $190 million a year ago, on a 10 percent rise in revenues to $6.3 billion, led by a 14 percent increase in companywide advertising revenues.