News Briefs

May 19, 2003  •  Post A Comment

A potential showdown between some big AOL Time Warner shareholders and the media giant’s management was largely averted Friday, as the slate of 13 nominated board members won approval at the company’s annual shareholders meeting.
Though the actual threat of a battle royal was relatively small, the vote grabbed attention after some big name shareholders-upset by the company’s massive losses since the merger of AOL with Time Warner-said they would withhold their votes on five of the 13 nominees.
The issue centered on whether AOL’s board was independent enough. Capital Research & Management, AOL’s biggest institutional shareholder, and Calpers, the nation’s largest pension fund, said it was not, and made clear well before the vote Friday that they would not support electing several board members, including former Chairman Steve Case as well as directors Stephen Bollenbach, Franklin Raines, Francis Vincent, James Barksdale and Miles Gilburne.
The meeting in Landsdowne, Va., gave Chairman-elect and CEO Richard Parsons an opportunity to tell shareholders that the balance sheet “is strong now and is getting stronger.” He said the company is “working hard to repair our credibility with investors,” but added, “we are a long way from bringing shareholders [the stock performance] they expect and deserve.”
Finales Fuel WB, CBS
CBS’ Sunday night victory last week was powered by the two-hour season finale of Survivor: The Amazon, but it was the Wednesday night series finale of The WB’s Dawson’s Creek that set the record books on fire. Dawson’s set all-time marks for The WB among adults 18 to 34 (6.6/18) and women 18 to 34 (9.1/21), which was nearly three ratings points ahead of the previous record, set by 7th Heaven in 1999. The two-hour episode, written by series creator Kevin Williamson, also marked The WB’s second-highest-rating ever among women 18 to 49 (5.8/13), fifth highest among adults 18 to 49 (4.2/11) and women 12 to 34 (8.2/21) and sixth highest in persons 12 to 34 (5.1/17). It was The WB’s highest Wednesday night deliveries ever across those demos.
Stack Dies in Los Angeles
Actor Robert Stack, who won an Emmy Award for the 1960s crime series The Untouchables, died Wednesday in Los Angeles of heart failure. He had received radiation treatment for prostate cancer last October. He was 84. Among Stack’s many credits was hosting the long-running series Unsolved Mysteries, which continues to air in repeats on Lifetime Television.
AP, Networks Form Pact on Voter Info
It’s official: The Associated Press last week signed contracts to collect and provide vote totals to the five television news organizations with which it was partnered in the now-defunct Voter News Service. Starting with next year’s presidential primaries, the AP will provide continuous running election-night returns on presidential, gubernatorial and congressional races for ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox News Channel under contracts that run through 2008.
CBS Still Loves `Raymond’
CBS struck a deal with HBO Independent Productions and Worldwide Pants to keep the show on the network for two more years. However, series star Ray Romano agreed to a one-year deal, so he is only guaranteed to stay through next season, which will be the series’ eighth. Mr. Romano’s deal is said to be somewhere north of $40 million for the year. CBS is believed to be paying about $5 million to $6 million an episode under its new deal.