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Jul 30, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Rainbow Media Consolidates Channels

Cablevision Systems’ Rainbow Media Holdings on Wednesday said it has consolidated its cable channels under a single umbrella and named IFC Cos. President Kathleen Dore as president of the newly created Entertainment Services unit.

In her new role Ms. Dore will have operating responsibility for AMC, IFC Cos. (which includes the Independent Film Channel and IFC Entertainment) and WE: Women’s Entertainment.

As part of the reorganization, Andrea Greenberg, who had been president of Rainbow Sports Networks, has been named president of distribution, with responsibility for affiliate sales and marketing of all of Rainbow’s national cable networks and on-demand video services. Both report to Rainbow CEO Josh Sapan.

The move comes a little more than a month after Cablevision fired 14 AMC and WE executives, including longtime AMC President Kate McEnroe, after auditors discovered the executives improperly booked marketing expenses in the wrong year to manage costs.

‘Nip/Tuck’ Ducks Slightly: The second episode of FX’s “Nip/Tuck” drew a 3.0 household rating in FX homes, or 3.3 million viewers. It slipped 6.25 percent from its debut perch last week of a 3.2 cable rating (3.7 million viewers) but still wins the night among cable viewers 18 to 49, with 2.2 million viewers.

Paxson Reports Narrowed Q2 Loss: Paxson Communications on Wednesday reported a narrowed second-quarter loss, credited to station sales and the company’s ongoing effort to cut expenses.

The West Palm Beach, Fla.-based owner of 60 television stations, said its red ink for the period ended June 30 was $17 million, compared with a year-earlier loss of $66.7 million.

Revenue slipped 2 percent to $76.9 million because of station sales and the Iraqi war’s impact on advertising. Operating cash flow skyrocketed more than 300 percent to $14.5 million.

The results come as Paxson works to pare down its operating expenses by consolidating operations and modifying its programming schedule to air informercials during daytime hours to hold the line on costs.

During the quarter Paxson generated $45.5 million from the sale of three TV stations and a partnership interest in a Norwell, Mass., TV station. The company expects to have $100 million in cash on hand by year-end.

Cox Swings Q2 Profit Buoyed by Bundling: Cable operator Cox Communications on Wednesday swung to a profit in the second quarter, buoyed by the company’s bundling strategy and higher monthly rates charged to its customers.

The Atlanta multiple system operator generated a second-quarter earnings of $117.7 million, or 19 cents a share, vs. a year-earlier loss of $516.2 million, or 86 cents a share. Revenue surged 14 percent to $1.4 billion.

The improvements came as Cox added customers for its high-speed Internet, telephony and digital cable services, all three of which Cox tries to bundle in order for customers to receive a single bill each month for those services.

“A driving factor in our success continues to be our bundling strategy,” CEO Jim Robbins said in a statement. “Today nearly one-third of customers buy multiple services from Cox, further demonstrating the value of our superior bundle of digital service.”

Cox, which has been particularly aggressive at building its telephony business, added more than 56,000 new customers to that service during the quarter to total 800,000. The high-speed Internet service’s customer base swelled by more than 112,000 to total 1.7 million. Digital cable subscriptions grew by more than 69,000 to total 1.9 million at the end of quarter.

Based on the improved second-quarter results, Cox said it expects to add up to 1.1 million high-speed, telephony and digital cable subscribers for the year, and projects 2003 revenue growth will be in the 14 percent to 15 percent range, all driven by Cox’s bundling strategy.

‘Designing Women’ Reunion Scores Big Ratings: Lifetime Television’s 90-minute “The Designing Women Reunion” on July 28 garnered a 3.1 household rating (3.3 million viewers), becoming the second-highest-rated special in Lifetime’s 19-year history, just behind “The Golden Girls Reunion,” which scored a 3.7 HH rating (4.2 million viewers) June 2.

The “Designing” special also was No. 1 in its time period across several demos — not only the expected adult female demos (women 18 to 49 and women 25 to 54) but adults 25 to 54 as well.

Hearst-Argyle Records Q2 Profit Drop: TV station owner Hearst-Argyle Television on Wednesday reported an 11 percent drop in its second-quarter profit to $27.3 million, or 29 cents a share, from $30.5 million, or 33 cents a share, a year ago, hurt by a slowdown in political advertising and general economic weakness. Revenue fell 1.5 percent to $179.6 million.

“A number of key advertising categories grew modestly in the second quarter, though not quite enough to offset last year’s significant political component,” said CEO David Barrett.

Officials at the New York-based station group, which owns 24 TV stations, said the decline in the quarter was a result of a sharp drop in political advertising in 2003 to $2.7 billion from a year-earlier level of $8.1 billion. Had the political effect been excluded, Hearst-Argyle said, its financial results would have been basically flat.

When examined on a network-affiliate basis, Hearst-Argyle’s CBS stations recorded an 8 percent jump in revenue, while the company’s lone WB station in Sacramento posted an 8.4 percent rise. Revenue at its NBC affiliates were flat, while ABC’s revenues dropped nearly 5 percent.

Looking ahead, Hearst-Argyle said its third-quarter results would be determined by the state of the economy as well as any regulatory developments in Washington. However, the company did warn that any comparison with the 2002 third quarter would have to take into consideration that the 2002 third quarter had a record $21 million in advertising revenue.

Mag Rack to Launch Yoga Segments: Mag Rack, Rainbow Media’s video-on-demand service for hobbyists and other niche enthusiasts, will launch a series of segments in its Yoga Retreat video “magazine” based on the yoga poses column in Yoga Journal magazine.

In addition to the features based on the “Asanas” column, the partnership will add Yoga Journal videos and coverage of Yoga Journal conferences to Mag Rack’s service. Mag Rack will provide on-air promotion of Yoga Journal’s products and events through video tags that will appear at the end of each affiliated program.

Sussman Named Research VP at CAB: Ira Sussman, who has been overseeing research for the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau on a consulting basis since May, has been named VP of research for the organization, succeeding Jonathan Sims, who left CAB earlier this year to join Comcast Advertising Sales.

Mr. Sussman was previously executive VP and director of IM Futures of Initiative Media. Before that he was marketing director of Times Mirror Magazines, planning research director of House of Seagram Media and corporate media research director of Bozell, Jacobs, Kenyon & Eckhardt.Mr. Sussman is the first full-time hire by new CAB President and CEO Sean Cunningham.

Prinze, Partner Land MTV Comedy Deal: MTV has signed actor Freddie Prinze Jr. (“Scooby-Doo”) and his writing partner Conrad Jackson to a development deal for a television movie comedy that looks at how proms are changing as student bodies become more diverse.

Mr. Prinze and Mr. Jackson were repped by International Creative Management on the MTV deal.