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Briefly Noted

Nov 4, 2002  •  Post A Comment

The Department of Justice last week filed suit in federal district court to block EchoStar Communications’ proposed acquisition of DirecTV. In a statement, the department said the merger would eliminate competition between the nation’s two major direct broadcast satellite services and substantially reduce competition in multichannel video programming. “This merger would create a monopoly in those areas where cable television is not available, thereby eliminating the only competitive choice for millions of households,” said Charles James, chief of DOJ’s antitrust division. The Federal Communications Commission announced its opposition to the deal several weeks ago.
Parents say TV’s language, themes getting worse
A study, partly funded by the Family Friendly Programming Forum, that queried parents of 5- to 17-year-olds has found that 90 percent of parents surveyed agree with the statement, “When it comes to bad language and adult themes, it seems like TV programs are getting worse every year.”
Sixty-five percent of the parents surveyed believe themes that are inappropriate for children often air between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., while 82 percent say they have seen a TV program in the past year that did impart a good message to their child. Ninety-three percent of respondents say television is all right for their child as long as they watch the right shows and in moderation, and 85 percent say they have no problem with their child relaxing for a while in front of a TV.
The survey also found parents evenly divided on viewing habits, with 48 percent saying they worry their child watches too much TV and 52 percent saying it is not a problem in their house. Seventy-one percent of parents say they have been shocked in the past year by something they saw on TV, with 13 percent of that group saying they contacted the station or network to complain, and 22 percent saying they have seriously considered getting rid of their TV.
The survey of 1,607 parents was conducted for State Farm Insurance Cos., with additional support from the Family Friendly Programming Forum, a group of 40 major national advertisers.
Cartoon Network drawn to ConAgra
Cartoon Network and ConAgra Foods are serving up two integrated promotions that will pair the network’s cartoon characters with the packaged-food company’s brands. The first campaign, “Cartoon Food Bash 2002,” features eight Cartoon Network characters from four of the cable channel’s shows-”Johnny Bravo,” “Samurai Jack,” “The Powerpuff Girls” and “Ed, Edd n Eddy”-in a Chef Boyardee promotion that includes an instant-win sweepstakes and online digital trading cards.
Marketing support for the campaign includes a 30-second spot on Cartoon Network to drive kids to Chef Boyardee products. The second campaign, “Super Power vs. Brain Power,” launches in January 2003 and runs for four months. That campaign includes “Dexter” and “Powerpuff Girls” games on 5 million Kid Cuisine packages, as well as limited-edition Kid Cuisine meals tied directly to the two shows.
No reality for VH1’s `Liza & David’
There will be no “Liza & David” reality show on VH1 after all. MTV’s ratings-challenged older-demo sibling has bailed out of the heavily hyped but troubled project that was to go inside the world of singer/actress Liza Minnelli and her new husband, impresario David Gest, whom network sources blame for the fiasco. The show was to have taped “parties” that Ms. Minnelli and Mr. Gest would throw for their glamorous and famous friends, but, “We just didn’t have the access,” a network spokesman said. One party episode of the series, which was to have debuted on Dec. 8, has been shot, and that shoot was so troubled that it led VH1 to cancel the project outright.
“Liza & David” was canceled in a letter the network’s lawyers sent to Mr. Gest’s lawyers, claiming Mr. Gest had repeatedly breached his deal with VH1, according to an account in the New York Post’s Page Six that the network confirmed. The network’s grievances against Mr. Gest include such items as his banning Ms. Minnelli from shooting and watching dailies, not allowing the crew to set up in a timely fashion and overruling producers during the one shoot that took place, according to the Post account.
Short takes
The second season of “The Osbournes” will debut on Nov. 26. This season, mom Sharon undergoes chemotherapy and the family takes in an orphaned teenager. … HBO announced the cancellation of “Arli$$,” the sports comedy created by and starring Robert Wuhl. The series, which launched in 1996, ends after accumulating 80 episodes. … Sci Fi Channel has signed a two-picture film deal with actor Bruce Campbell. He will star in two of the network’s upcoming original Saturday night male-oriented action movies “The Man With the Screaming Brain” and “Earwigs.” Production is set to begin on the first of the two films in April 2003.#