Tuesday, Dec. 10
EchoStar acquisition deal killed
The proposed $18 billion EchoStar Communications acquisition of Hughes Electronics Corp. and its DirecTV satellite unit is dead, killed by regulatory opposition.
The end of the proposed merger cost EchoStar a reported $600 million, which it is obligated to pay to Hughes as a termination fee.
Insiders have long viewed the end of the EchoStar-Hughes combination as the likely beginning of a renewed bid by News Corp., which has long sought a presence in the lucrative North American satellite market to add to its satellite interests in Europe, Asia and elsewhere.
Regulators looked askance at the proposed EchoStar acquisition, judging it be anti-competitive. EchoStar argued in turn that the satellite industry’s true competition is actually with the cable business.
Parsons confirms ‘pause’ in CNN-ABC merger talks: The merger talks between CNN and ABC News have “hit the pause button,” Richard Parsons, AOL Time Warner CEO, confirmed today during a media conference sponsored by UBS Warburg.
“Both brand owners want to control their own air, but they’re getting everything from the same factory,” he said, referring to similar sentiments expressed last week by Michael Eisner, chairman of The Walt Disney Co., which owns ABC. “It’s complicated in that once you go down that road, can you ever come back?”
Mr. Parsons said while the concept of some kind of alliance “has inherent merits and business sense,” it also has an awful lot of operational and structuring complexities, “and nobody’s figured it out yet.”
Mr. Parsons said while the concept of some kind of alliance “has inherent merits and business sense,” it also has an awful lot of operational and structuring complexities, “and nobody’s figured it out yet.” He also said his company has had news alliance talks with CBS in the past.
Season-ending episode of ‘Sopranos’ a ratings hit: HBO’s “The Sopranos” went out with a bada-bing in its season-ending episode last Sunday, drawing almost 12.5 million viewers for the Mob saga’s final twists — most especially Tony and Carmela’s big domestic shootout.
By comparison, “The Sopranos” opened its season this past September with 13.4 million viewers, making it the most watched single program in HBO’s history. The season-ending episode now becomes the second-most watched program in HBO’s history, with the pre-“Sopranos” ratings champ, a 1989 Mike Tyson boxing match that drew approximately 11.3 million viewers, dropping to third place.
Snyderman leaves ABC News: Dr. Nancy Snyderman has signed off at ABC News, where she has been a medical contributor and was an occasional substitute anchor in the late ’80s, to become a VP at Johnson & Johnson, the company for which she made a commercial that got her in hot water with ABC News earlier this year.
In the position created for her, VP for medical affairs, corporate staff, Dr. Snyderman will advise Johnson & Johnson and its companies on the introduction of new technologies.
Dr. Snyderman was suspended by ABC News for a week last spring after making a radio commercial for Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol. She violated the ABC News policy against employee endorsement of products when she made the commercial.
Arbitron finds people watch cable away from home: Four out of five people from households without either cable or satellite television access at home still manage to watch cable television networks outside the home.
That’s the latest finding from Arbitron’s Portable People Meter market trial in Philadelphia. The PPM is a pager-size electronic device that has the ability to measure out-of-home viewing.
According to PPM data, nearly 30 percent of people living in non-cable and non-satellite households are exposed to a half-hour or more of cable per day. Not surprisingly, for people who live in homes that do not subscribe to satellite or cable, younger viewers — including children 6 to 11, teens 12 to 17 and persons 18 to 34 — are more likely to have higher levels of cable exposure than older household members. Nearly 62 percent of PPM panelists under the age of 35 who live in non-cable homes were exposed to more than one quarter-hour of cable per day, while more than one-third of persons 35 and older living in non-cable homes were exposed to more than one quarter-hour of cable per day.
The peak cable viewing time for residents of non-cable homes is Monday through Friday, 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, the peak cable viewing time is 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., according to Arbitron.
ABC to premiere three dramas Jan. 27: ABC Television Network has announced that Monday, Jan. 27, will be the premiere date for its three midseason drama series.
Leading off the night will be “Veritas: The Quest” (8 p.m. to 9 p.m., ET) an action-adventure drama that chronicles a father and son’s archaeological journeys. The new series is produced by Touchstone Television in association with Storyline Entertainment and Massett/Zinman Productions.
Up next will be “Dragnet” (9 p.m. to 10 p.m.) a modern-day version of the classic police drama. Wolf Films is producing the show in association with Universal Network Television.
And capping off the night will be “Miracles” (10 p.m. to 11 p.m.), which follows an investigator of modern miracles. The new series is produced by Touchstone Television in association with Spyglass Entertainment.
McGuinness moves up at NBC: John McGuinness, a 15-time Emmy winner and a veteran of seven Olympic Games, has been named senior producer, heading the NBC Olympic Profiles Unit. He joined NBC Sports in 1991 and among his other assignments he has been NBC’s lead tennis producer for 10 years.