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Sep 23, 2003  •  Post A Comment

‘Emmy Awards’ Ratings Down

An average of 17.9 million people watched the “55th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards” on Fox Sunday night, according to Nielsen Media Research final national numbers. The show scored a 7.1 rating and 19 share in adults 18 to 49. The total was down from the 20 million viewers who watched the show on NBC last year. However, it was still good enough to give Fox an easy win for the night in adults 18 to 49 and total viewers, as the other networks aired reruns or movies. The Emmys broadcast gave Fox its highest-rated Sunday night in seven months in adults 18 to 49 and total viewers.

This year’s Emmys telecast — usually the biggest draw of the week it airs — finished third for the week in adults 18 to 49 and total viewers behind CBS’s top-ranked “Survivor: Pearl Islands” premiere and ABC’s “Monday Night Football.”

The show was up slightly in total viewers from the last time Fox had the Emmys broadcast, in 1999, when it had 17.5 million viewers.

NBC’s Racy ‘Coupling’ May Air on Alternate Stations: NBC has secured alternate clearances for “Coupling” in South Bend, Ind., and Salt Lake City, both markets in which the NBC affiliates refused to carry the racy new sitcom when it debuts at 9:30 p.m. (ET) Thursday.

In South Bend, where WNDU-TV, which is owned by the University of Notre Dame, gave a thumbs down to “Coupling” after previewing it last week, a deal was wrapped up Wednesday to move the comedy to WSBT-DT, the digital-only UPN affiliate that is owned by Schurz Communications’ CBS affiliate, WSBT-TV. National advertising that had been sold by NBC in the half-hour will move to WSBT-DT, which is available to some 75 percent of the cable subscribers in the market. The UPN operation will be free to sell any local advertising time and will cover any NBC promos. WSBT-DT’s deal is said to guarantee it will carry “Coupling” for at least half of the season. But it also is said to allow for the comedy to return to NBC-affiliated WNDU with 60 days’ notice.

In Salt Lake City, NBC affiliate KSL-TV refused to carry the “Coupling” premiere. Acme-owned WB affiliate KUWB-TV agreed to pick it up. KUWB-TV general manager John Rossi said, “We basically have an agreement for the rest of the season.” On Thursdays he will run “Coupling” at 10 p.m. Salt Lake City time and will bump “Spin City” to midnight.

Mr. Rossi said he previewed the premiere episode of “Coupling” and that while the series clearly sets out to raise the raciness bar, he did not find the dialogue and situations any more “implicit” in the new comedy than in the other Thursday night NBC comedies, “Friends,” “Scrubs” and “Will & Grace.”

Still, Salt Lake City has a reputation for being a conservative market, Mr. Rossi said, and, “We understand that some will find it objectionable. I don’t think it will create a lot of problems with the viewers.”

In both Salt Lake City and South Bend, the agreements call for the non-NBC stations to air “Coupling” in a time slot that would guarantee that the comedy is not competing against any network programming being carried by the two NBC affiliates.

Si TV Signs With Cox and Time Warner: Si TV, an English-language channel targeting Latinos, said Tuesday that it has inked carriage agreements with cable operators Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications, expanding the network’s distribution to 18 million homes ahead of its Feb. 25 launch.

The deal comes on the heels of a distribution deal completed with satellite operator EchoStar Communications, which will include Si in its America’s Top 150 programming packages.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles-based network continues attracting investors, announcing Tuesday that Syncom, a private equity firm that has invested in Black Entertainment Television and soon-to-be rival TV One, has purchased an undisclosed stake in the channel. Si officials said they are also holding discussions with AOL Time Warner Opportunity Investment Fund about a possible investment.

Adelphia Consolidates Systems Under Its Management: Adelphia Communications, continuing to recover from an accounting scandal that wiped out top management at the cable operator, said Tuesday it will be consolidating the ownership of several cable systems, choosing not to renew a management agreement that Adelphia had with Tele-Media Corp.

The decision to take full control of certain cable systems in Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, affects 144,000 customers, and the transition is expected to be completed early next year. Adelphia said the contracts with Tele-Media have either expired already or are set to expire soon.

Adelphia said most of the 290 Tele-Media employees would remain on the job, though some management positions might be eliminated as a result of duplication.

“The decision to become more involved in the operation of the Tele-Media systems reflects an ongoing review of all Adelphia operations and business activities being conducted by our new management team in Denver,” said Ron Cooper, Adelphia’s president and chief operating officer.

With Adelphia’s taking over management of these systems, the pace of system upgrades is expected to increase, the company said.

Burns Named VP of Post-Newsweek Productions: Sherry Burns, a 21-year veteran of the Post-Newsweek station group has been named VP of Post-Newsweek Productions. Ms. Burns most recently has been VP and general manager of WJXT-TV in Jacksonville, which Post-Newsweek turned into an independent station last year after a long-running negotiation with CBS.

Ms. Burns oversaw the development of “Gimme the Mike!,” a local talent program that just completed its second season. Her mandate will be to develop and nationally syndicate such program ideas.

Ms. Burns will be succeeded at WJXT by Larry Blackerby effective Sept. 29. His previous stops have included stints as general manager of the Journal Broadcast Group’s NBC affiliate KMIR-TV in Palm Springs, Calif.; VP of broadcasting and station manager, Media General’s WJTV-TV in Jackson, Miss.; and director of programming and broadcast operations for more than seven years at Fox-owned WGHP-TV in Greensboro, N.C.

NBC Wins 18 to 49 Demo With New Season Lineup: NBC won the first night of the new season last night in adults 18 to 49 with a stellar performance from a two-hour “Fear Factor,” which won its 8 p.m.-to-10 p.m. time slot with a 6.0 rating/15 share, according to Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data.

“Fear Factor” won or tied for first in every half-hour and built from a 4.8/14 in the first half-hour to a 6.7/16 in the last half-hour, which tied it with ABC’s “Monday Night Football.”

The special premiere of NBC’s “Las Vegas” dropped from “Fear Factor” coming in third place in its time slot from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. with a 5.1/13. “Vegas” held up well, considering it faced stiff competition from “MNF” (6.6/17) and CBS’s “CSI: Miami” (5.9/15). “Vegas” moves to its regular 9 p.m. time period next week, when “Third Watch” returns at 10 p.m.

CBS’s “Everybody Loves Raymond” was the most-watched show of the night with 20.1 million total viewers.

It finished tied for first in adults 18 to 49 with a 6.3/16 and provided a nice lead-in for new sitcom “Two and a Half Men,” which finished third with a 5.8/14 (“Fear” and “MNF” tied for first in the half-hour with a 6.7/16). “Men” won its time slot in total viewers with 18.1 million.

The big loser last night was Fox, which did not have original programming. With a “Fox News Special” at 8 p.m. and reality show “Performing As …” at 9 p.m., Fox finished below even The WB and UPN in adults 18 to 49.

UPN had a promising hour from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. with its sitcom “Girlfriends” tying The WB’s “Everwood” with a 2.3/6 in adults 18 to 49 from 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and “Half & Half” finishing a tenth of a ratings point behind the second half-hour of “Everwood.”

NBC won the night in adults 18 to 49 with a 5.7/15, followed by ABC (5.6/14), CBS (5.3/14), The WB (2.0/5), UPN (1.9/5) and Fox (1.6/4). In total viewers, CBS won with 16.2 million, followed by ABC (14.5 million), NBC (13.3 million), The WB (5.7 million), Fox (4.4 million) a
nd UPN (4.1 million).

History Channel Teams With Department of Education to Mark Holidays: The History Channel said Tuesday that it has formed a partnership with the U.S. Department of Education to create and produce a string of programs that highlight national holidays such as Veterans Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Labor Day. The half-hour programs will be telecast around the time of each holiday starting next year.

The partnership is designed to teach middle and high school students the significance of the holidays, and will highlight the events’ original intention as well as the key people the holidays celebrate. The series will feature movie clips and celebrities to assist in telling the stories.

Comcast and Liberty Ink Distribution Deal: Comcast and Liberty Media’s Starz! Encore cable networks said Tuesday they ended their legal fight over programming fees and inked a new multiyear distribution agreement that one analyst described as favorable to Comcast and could portend the kind of muscle Comcast could flex with other programmers.

Though financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, the two companies said the agreement calls for Comcast’s systems to carry the Starz! and Encore pay-TV channels and makes available the channels’ high-definition and subscription video-on-demand offerings in markets where Comcast offers such services.

In a victory for Comcast, the pact also calls for Comcast to pay Starz! on a per-subscriber basis instead of the flat fee that Starz! had pushed for and which had been at the center of a nearly yearlong legal tussle between the two companies.

The battle began last November when Comcast acquired AT&T Broadband’s cable systems. AT&T’s arrangement with Starz! involved the cable operator’s paying a flat fee for carriage. Once Comcast acquired those systems, however, it pushed to have the AT&T systems fall under its per-subscriber payment arrangement, which Starz! opposed.

For Comcast, the new deal is a significant victory that brings with it some programming savings associated with having 22 million subscribers and could signal the type of strength the cable operator will have in future negotiations with programmers.

“By our estimates, Comcast’s new deal with Starz! is approximately $200 million below the [AT&T Broadband] rate for Starz!-reflecting in part Comcast’s newfound clout as the nation’s biggest distributor of television programming,” said Merrill Lynch analyst Jessica Reif Cohen in a research note.