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Oct 24, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Kellison Leaves ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’

ABC late night’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” will mark its first anniversary in January without executive producer Daniel Kellison at the helm, a spokesman for ABC confirmed.

Mr. Kellison is expected to exit the daily mix on “Kimmel” soon. Until a permanent replacement is named, Duncan Gray, ABC’s alternative series and specials VP, will oversee the show.

Mr. Kellison reportedly will continue as a partner with Mr. Kimmel and Adam Carolla in Jackhole Productions, which has produced “The Man Show” and “Crank Yankers” for Comedy Central, as well as “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

“Daniel is the brightest and most creative producer I’ve ever worked with. He is also a very good friend. I’ll miss having him around twelve hours a day, but he will continue to run our company Jackhole Industries, which continues to produce Jimmy Kimmel Live and is about to begin production on a third season of Crank Yankers for Comedy Central. We also have a number of opportunities to develop and produce new shows – including a sitcom based on the movie “Shawshank Redemption” that we think can’t miss,” Mr. Kimmel said.

A veteran of eight years on David Letterman’s late-night shows and the early months of “The Rosie O’Donnell Show,” Mr. Kellison is said to be planning a return to the East Coast.

MSNBC to Air Democratic Presidential Debate: MSNBC will produce and “NBC Nightly News” anchor Tom Brokaw will moderate a Democratic presidential candidates debate at 4 p.m. (ET) Monday, Nov. 24, from Des Moines, Iowa. The cable news network will repeat the telecast at 9 p.m. (ET) that night. The debate will air live from the Polk County Convention Center and will be simulcast on NBC’s Des Moines affiliate, WHO-TV.

GAO Study Reports Wireline Competition May Lower Cable Rates: A long-anticipated General Accounting Office study released today suggests that the best way to lower cable rates may be to encourage the rollout of wireline competition for cable operators in their markets.

Cable TV industry leaders have maintained that ever-increasing competition from direct broadcast satellite services provides enough marketplace competition to check cable rates, without the need for additional government intervention. But according to the GAO study, in the few markets where an incumbent cable operator faces wireline competition, cable rates are significantly lower-by about 15 percent-than in other communities.

The GAO report says that DBS has become an important competitor for cable in communities where the satellite TV operator offers local broadcast signals. In addition, according to GAO, in markets where both the nation’s leading DBS operators, EchoStar and DirecTV, are each offering satellite TV penetration is 40 percent higher than in other communities.

The bottom line, according to watchdog group representatives, is that regulators should focus their efforts on encouraging wired competition for cable. “If the FCC were doing a better job of fostering cable competition rather than allowing monopolies to run amok, consumers could save billions of dollars,” said Chris Murray, legislative counsel for the watchdog Consumers Union. But a cable TV representative challenged the gist of the GAO’s finding. “While GAO reports a price differential in the relatively few markets that have a second wireline broadband provider, GAO has not done any economic analysis to determine whether the differential reflects sustainable pricing or may be explained by anomalous factors,” said Robert Sachs, president and CEO of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.

In another key finding, GAO said that it didn’t have enough information to determine whether most subscribers would benefit from switching to an a la carte system that would allow subscribers to pick and pay for only the programming they want to buy. One of the drawbacks, GAO said, is that additional equipment would be needed to give some subscribers access to a la carte.

Still another drawback, GAO said, is that ala carte could erode the network advertising, leading to increased costs for some programming. Nonetheless, GAO said creating a separate tier for sports channels “may be viable because this genre of programming has a loyal base of customers.” On the other hand, the report warns that, “Sports leagues may be reluctant to have sporting events appear on cable networks that are placed on a separate sports tier because the programming would not be widely available.”

The report, requested by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., also said that subscriber rate increases were being spurred by a variety of factors, but particularly by cable’s infrastructure investments and programming costs. According to the GAO report, overall programming costs have gone up on average by as much as 34 percent over the past three years, with the costs of sports programming up 59 percent over the same period.

In still another finding, the GAO warned that Federal Communications Commission reports on cable competition and rate increases are unreliable due to sloppy information-collection procedures. In a statement, Sen. McCain said he planned to hold hearings to review the report. “The GAO report confirms that competition matters,” Sen. McCain said.

George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN and ABC Sports, said, “We are heartened to see the GAO confirm that FCC data blaming program costs may be flawed, that a la carte is not a panacea and that competition is better than regulation.”

Blair Levin, a telecom analyst for Legg Mason, said the report was unlikely to lead to government regulation. “The primary impact of the report, in our view, is to give cable operators and programmers new ammunition in their public campaigns to pin the tail on the bad guy, casting the other as the major culprit in causing cable rates to rise. We expect both sides will find data in the report to support their view, as the report suggests that both programming costs and network infrastructure costs have contributed to the price hikes.”

Reality Awards Canceled: Plans for ABC’s Reality Awards have been nixed due to lack of rival participation, producer Don Mischer announced. The two-hour award show was called off Wednesday, one month before its scheduled taping at Sony Studios. Mr. Mischer, an eight-time director-producer of the Emmy Awards, said rival networks refused to grant ABC permission to use footage from their reality programs.

Evidence of network in-fighting was apparent early on. In a TelevisionWeek interview Sept. 15, NBC Executive VP of Alternative Programming Jeff Gaspin said, “[A reality awards show] has been pitched many, many, many, many times, by many, many, many, many producers. I’m personally tired of [the idea of] another awards show. … We’re all so competitive now that I don’t know if it makes sense for us to give [ABC] anything.”

CBS Rules Thursday Night: CBS put another chink in NBC’s Thursday night armor last night, beating the network in the adults 18 to 49 demo NBC targets. CBS scored a 7.4/19 in adults 18 to 49 for the night compared with NBC’s 7.3/18, according to Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data. Both networks aired original episodes of their series despite going up against Game 5 of the World Series between the Florida Marlins and New York Yankees. Fox finished third in the demo for the night.

CBS also won total viewers with 20.7 million, beating NBC by 5.4 million viewers. NBC was hurt most by baseball, with a rare third-place finish for the night in total viewers. Fox was in second place for the night.

The powerhouse of the night was CBS’s “CSI” at 9 p.m., which had a 9.9/24 in adults 18 to 49 (beating NBC’s “Will & Grace”/”Coupling” by 65 percent) and 27 million total viewers (125 percent better than NBC).

NBC did beat all the competition at 10 p.m. in adults 18 to 49 with “ER,” but baseball on Fox beat it in total viewers. “ER’s” 8.0/20 in adults 18 to 49 and 17.5 million viewers were its lowest numbers ever for an original episode. “ER” beat “Trace” by 60 percent in adults 18 to 49, but “Trace” was only 2.2 million viewers behind in total viewers.

For the night, CBS won in adults 1
8 to 49 with a 7.4/19, followed by NBC (7.3/18), Fox (5.6/14), ABC (2.5/6) and UPN (2.1/5). In total viewers, CBS won with 20.7 million, followed by Fox (17.4 million), NBC (15.3 million), ABC (7.4 million), UPN (5.4 million) and The WB (2.6 million). Fox’s numbers will change when final national numbers are available later today because fast affiliates are not time zone-adjusted for live sporting events.

‘8 Simple Rules’ to Return Nov. 4: New episodes of ABC sitcom “8 Simple Rules for Dating my Teenage Daughter” will return to the network’s schedule Tuesday, Nov. 4, at 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., just in time for November sweeps.

The first few episodes will deal with the death of John Ritter’s character on the show and include guest-starring appearances by James Garner and Suzanne Pleshette.