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Feb 24, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Moonves projects CBS will lead sweeps

CBS will win the February sweeps race in total households and viewers, the latter by a 1.5 million viewer margin, CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves said during a conference call Monday morning. He projected that CBS will finish the ratings period, which officially ends Wednesday, at 13.8 million viewers, NBC at 12.45 million, Fox at 12.10 million and ABC at 10.45. He added that it is CBS’s greatest margin of victory in sweeps since 1993, excluding Olympics years.

CBS should finish with an 8.9 rating in households, ahead of NBC’s projected 8.1, Fox’s 7.1 and ABC’s 6.6, he said. “This was done with our core schedule,” Mr. Moonves said. “We have built our schedule for now and the future. The schedule you saw in February will be the schedule you see for next few months.” Despite the victory in viewers and households, Fox-thanks to “Joe Millionaire”-will win the 18 to 49 demographic with a projected 5.6, followed by NBC at 4.8, CBS at 4.1 and ABC at 4.0, CBS said.

While Mr. Moonves acknowledged that the 18 to 49 demo is, of course, important, he pointed out that CBS and NBC are the only networks that are profitable in prime time. In addition, CBS won the volume race without relying on Michael Jackson specials or reality stunts as the other networks did. CBS also beat NBC’s unbeatable Thursday night lineup in all demos on Feb. 13 when CBS aired its “Survivor” premiere and a 90-minute “CSI,” he said. That’s the first time CBS has trumped NBC on a Thursday night since February 1993, he said.

CBS was up 5 percent in the 18 to 49 demo compared with the recent November sweeps. Mr. Moonves added that last May CBS had said its top priority was to strengthen the 10 p.m. hour to help the network, its affiliates and David Letterman. That time period is up 13 percent in viewers, 20 percent in adults 18 to 49 and 16 percent in adults 25 to 54 compared with November sweeps. As a result, late local news is up 6 percent in household ratings at CBS’s owned-and-operated stations. The network finished off the ratings period with its telecast of the Grammy Awards last night, which attracted 24.86 million viewers, up 31 percent from last year. The show was up 26 percent in adults 18 to 49 and 34 percent in adults 25 to 54. “We’re happy that the Grammys are back on track,” Mr. Moonves said.

Sen. Hagel urges Bush to delay decision on war with Iraq: More than 360 state broadcast industry leaders convened in Washington today to lobby for industry issues. But what they got during a luncheon speech was an impassioned plea from Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., for restraint in the Bush administration policy toward Iraq. “If we don’t get it right here … we could set the world on a disastrous course,” the lawmaker said. Sen. Hagel’s basic pitch: The United States should delay a decision on military intervention until there’s a larger worldwide consensus for action. Without additional support, the United States, he said, could find its image tarnished worldwide and be “dangerously” isolated. “We can’t fight the world alone,” he said. “It’s important for you to weigh in on these issues,” Sen. Hagel said. “Now is the time to speak up.”

Also at the National Association of Broadcasters state leadership conference, Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., pronounced as “DOA” a Bush administration proposal to sock broadcasters with $500 million in spectrum fees each year until they return their analog channels to the government. Under the proposal, which was included in President George W. Bush’s federal budget for fiscal 2004, stations would have to start paying the levies in 2007 and keep paying them each year thereafter until they switch to digital.

MSNBC leans right in its latest hirings: MSNBC is stocking up on conservatives for its bullpen of regular contributors. Today the news channel announced it has hired former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), whose 18 years in Congress came to an end in January. “My experience in the world of politics and policy enables me to offer commentary with a uniquely personal point of view,” Mr. Armey said in the announcement.

The third-ranked cable news channel announced last week that it had hired Republican Joe Scarborough, a former congressman from Florida and recent guest host on MSNBC, to be a regular contributor. In recent weeks, MSNBC also announced it is giving a weekend show to Michael Savage, a conservative former congressman from Florida.Marks made COO of television at Sinclair: Sinclair Broadcast Group has promoted Steve Marks to chief operating officer of television. Mr. Sinclair, whose association with Sinclair started in 1986, when he was general sales manager at Sinclair-operated WTTE-TV in Columbus, Ohio, had been VP and regional director of the group since March 2002.

New National Geographic VPs: Michael Spalding and Jason Meil have been named VP, sponsorship sales, and VP, program development and sales, respectively, at National Geographic Television & Film, which produces documentaries and other programming for National Geographic Channel, MSNBC and PBS, among others.

Food Net plans trivia game: Food Network is unwrapping “Trivia Unwrapped,” a new game show that extends its “Unwrapped” brand. “Trivia Unwrapped,” which focuses on food pop culture, is due to premiere Aug. 25 with the first of 52 episodes. In addition, the network will be premiering 49 new episodes and three new one-hour specials of “Unwrapped.” Both shows are hosted by Marc Summers, who also hosts Game Show Network’s “WinTuition.”