News Briefs

Sep 29, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Nielsen Media Research said last week it is ordering WJLA-TV in Washington to “cease and desist” touting its coverage of Hurricane Isabel’s assault as the most-watched in the Washington area, where massive power outages rendered any data collected by Nielsen at the peak of the storm coverage too “unstable” for publication or promotion. The Albritton-owned ABC affiliate had asked for “any data we might have,” said Nielsen communications VP Jack Loftus. He said Nielsen shipped the station some data and made clear to WJLA that it was “not representative of anything” and could be used only for internal station analysis. However, the station ran on-air promos extolling its hurricane coverage and on Sept. 24 The Washington Times ran a story reporting the “big ratings” scored Sept. 18 by WJLA. Mr. Loftus said it was still unclear who gave The Times its data, which the newspaper attributed to Nielsen. But he added, “Whoever did that released bogus information into the market that was designed to mislead the market.” Nielsen made clear to WJLA that “the sample was way out of line, so it is not projectable,” Mr. Loftus said. WJLA President and General Manager Chris Pike said he had shared the information internally only, in an e-mail and in a meeting in the newsroom.
UPN Extends Deal With Nine Fox Stations
Viacom-owned UPN has extended its relationship with nine affiliates owned by Fox Television Stations for what was described as a multiyear period under a deal that is retroactive to Sept. 1, 2003. The new affiliation agreement secures UPN outlets in the three top markets-New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, where WWOR-TV, KCOP-TV and WPWR-TV, respectively, are part of Fox-owned duopolies-and an overall reach of 24 percent of the country’s TV homes. Mitchell Stern, chairman and CEO of Fox Television Stations, said in the announcement: “This new agreement extending our UPN affiliations is a perfect fit with our business and operational plans, especially since in eight of these nine markets we have duopolies.” Mr. Stern’s statement indicates that despite much speculation during the past year that Fox might pull some key legs out from under UPN’s future by pulling crucial stations out of the UPN pack, the Fox-owned affiliates appear to be committed for at least three years.
Norton Coming to Comedy Central, O’Donnell to CBS
Comedy Central is teaming up with British talk-show host and comedian Graham Norton, while CBS has signed Chris O’Donnell to a talent and development deal. Comedy Central’s deal with Mr. Norton is a two-year pact that calls for the performer to host a talk show, perform in his own stand-up special and assume hosting duties on the cable network’s series “Reel Comedy.” The Irish-born Mr. Norton received a 13-episode commitment for an hour-long variety/talk show that his production company, So TV, will produce. In addition, Mr. Norton will star in an hour-long stand-up comedy special and will host four installments of “Reel Comedy,” which profiles comedic films.
Parsons Having `A Conversation’
Time Warner Chairman and CEO Richard Parsons will be the special guest at the kickoff of the second annual outreach event “A Conversation With …,” which Ken Werner, executive VP of distribution for The WB, inaugurated last year. The program is conceived as a series of casual conversations with four media moguls for the benefit of the Los Angeles minority business community. Mr. Parsons will appear with Mr. Werner Oct. 14 at the FAME Renaissance Media Center in Los Angeles.
SAG/AFTRA, Advertisers Reach Agreement
Eager to avoid a repeat of 2000’s protracted negotiation and strike, the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists reached a tentative three-year agreement with the advertising industry after one day of face-to-face talks. The agreement will go to SAG/AFTRA’s Joint National Board of Directors on Sept. 29.