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Feb 21, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Strike the band

There will be something missing at the 45th Grammy Awards- namely, the orchestra. A report on EM contributor Aaron Barnhart’s TVbarn.com site confirmed that the ceremony, to be broadcast Sunday on CBS, will not have a musical director or a live ensemble to supply musical interludes between presentations. Instead, samples of Grammy-nominated songs will be used. Musicians’ groups were critical of the move, with one official predicting the Grammys would lose its “vibrancy.”

Representatives of CBS and the recording academy were unavailable for comment.

Lineup announced for FCC’s media ownership hearing: Among the witnesses scheduled to testify at the Federal Communications Commission’s field hearing on agency media ownership regulations Feb. 27 in Richmond, Va.: Jay Ireland, NBC Television Stations president; Andrew Schwartzman, president of the activist Media Access Project; and John Sturm, president and CEO of the Newspaper Association of America. All five of the FCC’s commissioners are also slated to be on hand. The hearing starts at 10 a.m. at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.

Initiative names Dundas, Butchen sr. VPs: Day Dundas and Peter Butchen have both been named to the newly created positions of senior VP, group director, national broadcast, Initiative Media North America.

Mr. Dundas joins Initiative’s $2 billion-plus, 85-person national broadcast department from OMD New York, where his responsibilities included the Vivendi Universal account. Mr. Butchen moves up from inside the company. Both men will report to Tim Spengler, Initiative’s executive VP, director of national broadcast.

Mr. Dundas will be responsible for the national broadcast operations of Initiative’s West Coast office as well as key clients, including Coors Brewing Co., Merck and SC Johnson.

Mr. Butchen, whose largest direct accounts include Bayer Corp., Burlington Coat Factory and Ross Laboratories, will add to his portfolio such clients as Applebee’s, Gateway and Maybelline.

Both men also will serve on the advisory committee of Magna Global, Interpublic Group’s network negotiating unit.

Standard & Poor’s rates network TV’s business profile ‘below average’: According to a new Standard & Poor’s report, network TV profitability “runs the gamut from meaningful losses being generated by ABC and Fox; a modest loss at UPN; initial positive EBITDA [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization] at The WB; and modestly positive EBITDA at Paxson [Pax Network and Paxson stations combined]; to the respectable profits of CBS and considerable profit position of NBC.”

Overall, network television has a “below average business profile” according to Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Heather Goodchild. “This assessment is elevated to an investment-grade level for successful operators only by virtue of the joined-at-the-hip relationship with their owned-and-operated TV stations, which provides diversity of revenue streams, among other benefits.”

Station had crew in club at time of fire: A TV reporter became a part of the story of the West Warwick, R.I., nightclub fire late Thursday. Jeffrey Derdarian, recently hired by LIN Television-owned Fox affiliate WPRI-TV, is part-owner of the club at which WPRI cameraman Brian Butler was shooting video for a story on nightclub safety when fire killed scores of patrons at a performance by the rock band Great White.

Mr. Derdarian had worked at Sunbeam-owned NBC affiliate WHDH-TV in Boston before joining the staff of WPRI this week. There was no comment from WPRI management.

A search of the station’s Web site this afternoon turned up no mention of Mr. Derderian. The usual listing of news staffers on the Web site was not accessible. “We are currently updating the Eyewitness News Team pages and hope to have them back online soon,” said a note.

‘Today’ has its biggest in year, ‘Early’ on a streak: According to Nielsen Media Research data for the week ending Feb. 16, NBC’s “Today” averaged 6.74 million viewers-its biggest audience in nearly a year- followed by ABC’s “Good Morning America” (5.42 million) and “The Early Show” on CBS (3.04 million). “Early Show” now has broken the 3-million mark for five straight weeks for the first time in four years.

On Sunday, Feb. 16, NBC’s “Meet the Press” (6.331 million viewers) hit a 17-month high and nearly doubled its two closest competitors, CBS’s “Face the Nation” (3.313 million) and ABC’s “Good Morning America” (3.141 million). “Fox News Sunday” trailed with 2.083 million.

MSNBC tones down slogan, logo: On the eve of what seems to be the United States’ inevitable war on Iraq, MSNBC has dumped the 10-month-old slogan “America’s News Channel” and the accompanying flag-waving NBC Peacock logo in favor of “NBC News on Cable, 24/7,” a graphic and audio reminder of the news channel’s parentage.

Meanwhile, MSNBC expects to get some war reporting from free-lancer Peter Arnett, who was one of CNN’s stars during the Persian Gulf War and who also will be reporting for “National Geographic Explorer,” telecast on MSNBC.

Also, MSNBC has hired former Congressman Joe Scarborough, R-Fla., as a regular contributor. Mr. Scarborough recently sat in as a substitute host on MSNBC’s “Nachman.”#