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Apr 28, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Copps Slams TV Nets for Noncoverage

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps today slammed the major TV networks for allegedly refusing to cover Federal Communications Commission proceedings that are expected to serve the networks’ financial interest by relaxing the agency’s media ownership rules. FCC Chairman Michael Powell, a Republican, has tentatively announced a final vote on the rules for June 2. But at least according to Mr. Copps, a Democract, the issue has yet to receive the sort of publicity on television that he believes it warrants. “Thus far, their [major TV network news’] refusal to cover this issue has just been dreadful,” Mr. Copps said, in remarks at a seminar on the media ownership and the University of Southern California. “It is in their public interest obligation to do so.” Also at the seminar, Mr. Copps, one of the agency’s most vehement critics of deregulation, blasted Chairman Powell for refusing to provide the public-or even Mr. Copps’ office-with advance notice of the precise changes being contemplated, even though the vote is now 35 days away.

“We don’t know what we will be voting on,” the commissioner said. “We don’t have the details, or even the broad configuration, of what the new system will be.” Mr. Copps also urged the agency to consider a pending request by Hollywood’s creative community to require the major TV networks to set aside 25 percent of their prime-time schedules for independently produced programming.

In addition, he urged the agency to consider beefing up its license renewal process to ensure that broadcasters are meeting their public interest obligations. “Before the genie is out of the bottle, we’d better understand the consequences, because there’ s no putting the genie back after we vote,” he said.

SÌ TV Proposes New Reality Show: Can privileged young Anglo-Americans survive in the barrio without their credit cards and other socio-economic advantages?

That’s the question SÌ TV, a new English-language network targeting Hispanic viewers that’s set for a fourth-quarter 2003 launch, proposes to answer when it gets into the reality game with Urban Jungle, a series created by Jeff Valdez, the network’s co-founder and co-chairman.

Jungle will take 13 , 18- to 25-year-old middle-to-upper class young Anglos and drop them into the barrio, where they will compete for $100,000 to survive in the barrio’s unfamiliar “multi-ethnic urban neighborhood, where the players are forced to go without the cushy comforts of Internet-ready cellphones, Beemers or mommy and daddy’s gold cards,” Mr. Valdez said in a statement that called on potential contestants to apply to Jungle’s Hollywood office.

Mr. Valdez characterized the series as a “social experiment” that will both entertain and provide a commentary on the “wide discrepancy in the standard of living that exists in our country.”

At the end of each episode, one player will be evicted from the ‘hood. “Biff, Buffy and Chip, welcome to the barrio!” Mr. Valdez said.

SÌ has announced a carriage agreement with Dish Network. Additional cable distribution will be announced in the near future, according to a network spokeswoman.

NBC Gets Head Start During Sweeps: NBC leads sweeps by just over a full ratings point four days into sweeps, according to preliminary data from Nielsen Media Research. NBC has a 4.6 rating/13 share, followed by CBS (3.5/10), Fox (3.1/9), ABC (2.9/9), The WB (1.2/3) and UPN (1.1/3).

Fox won Sunday night in adults 18 to 49 on the strength of its sitcom lineup, although NBC’s Law & Order: Criminal Intent did some damage tying Malcolm in the Middle with a 4.7/12 from 9 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and beating Oliver Beene from 9:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. with a 5.5/13 to Beene’s 3.7/9.

CBS won the night in total viewers boosted by the series finale of Touched by an Angel from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. (12.7 million viewers) and the performance of its Sunday Movie Painted House, which averaged 18.3 million viewers.

For the night in adults 18 to 49, Fox won with a 4.2/12, followed by NBC (3.8/11), CBS (3.2/9) and ABC (2.8/8). In total viewers, CBS won the night with 15.3 million, followed by NBC (10 million), Fox (9.4 million) and ABC (8.8 million).

Also of note over the weekend, Fox series Fastlane and John Doe had their season finales Friday night. From 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Fastlane scored a 2.2/8 in adults 18 to 49, finishing third in the time slot. From 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. John Doe had a 2.3/7 in the demo, finishing third in its time slot.

Granite Reports First-Quarter Loss: Granite Broadcasting Corp. reported a narrower first-quarter loss of $10.3 million, helped in part by a huge boost in advertising revenue at its San Francisco WB affiliate. A year earlier New York-based Granite reported red ink of $163.5 million.

Revenue for the period sank 50 percent, hurt by the absence of its KNTV, San Francisco, station, which Granite sold in April 2002. Without the impact of KNTV, Granite’s same-station revenue rose 4 percent to nearly $24.7 million. Same-station earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization fell into the negative, hitting minus-$412 million from a year-earlier figure of $1.9 million. Broadcast cash flow plunged 42 percent to $2.4 million.

The company said the results were helped in large part by KBWB-TV in San Francisco, the WB affiliate, which reported a 31percent surge in revenue. Chairman and CEO W. Don Cornwell said he was also pleased that the company was able to have a “solid quarter considering the need to replace the $3 million of Olympics and political revenue from last year’s first quarter” as well as missed revenue tied to the stations’ coverage of the Iraqi war.

RTNDF Founder Dies: Col. Barney Oldfield, USAF (Ret.), founder of the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation, died Saturday in Los Angeles. He was 93.

Col. Oldfield, who was born in Tecumseh, Neb., was a World War II correspondent, a broadcast journalist, a Hollywood publicist and a scriptwriter. In 1967, as chair of the finance and fundraising committee of the Radio-Television News Directors Association, he launched an effort to endow a broadcast journalism scholarship. The result was to establish the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation.

Today, RTNDF awards 22 scholarships and fellowships, including the Barney and Vada Oldfield National Security Reporting Fellowship.

“Barney was instrumental in creating RTNDF and he was the guiding spirit behind our important scholarship and fellowship programs,” RTNDF President Barbara Cochran said in a prepared statement. “It is because of Barney’s vision that we combine our scholarship awards with a trip to our annual convention, where award winners receive training and have the opportunity to meet and learn from professional newspeople.”

Col. Oldfield was predeceased by his wife, Vada, to whom he was married 68 years.

MTV2 Unveils New Shows: MTV2, MTV’s new sibling, has unveiled a slate of series and specials, including Nose Dive, a look at musicians’ career flame-outs; Track 2, in which musicians provide running commentary on their music videos; and Spoke ‘N Heard, a hip-hop video show.

MTV2’s weekend lineup will include Sucker Free Sundays, a hip-hop block, the return of Headbangers Ball, a Saturday heavy-metal show, and Subterranean, a Friday new-music showcase.