News Briefs

Oct 6, 2003  •  Post A Comment

The Television Bureau of Advertising is challenging a Merrill Lynch forecast that local cable advertising revenues could double over the next several years. The Sept. 9 report by analyst Jessica Reif Cohen said growth would be spurred by the increasing number of regional cable interconnects, the acceptance of ad inserts by cable networks and improved audience measurement techniques. That growth, to nearly $8 billion in local cable ad revenues, would come directly at the expense of local broadcast TV stations, whose interests TVB represents. TVB President Chris Rohrs contended it is mathematically impossible for local cable ad revenues to double in the coming years, though a time frame is not specified in the report. The factors Mr. Rohrs cited include a commercial inventory limit of two minutes per hour for each cable network. Even with the addition of 13 more cable networks accepting ad inserts, predicted in the report, cable overall would still fall far short of the number of spots needed to generate that level of revenue, he said. Ms. Cohen had no comment.
McCain Won’t Block Ownership Vote
In good news for the affiliates, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said last week that a Senate appropriations bill that includes a rider that would roll back the cap on national TV ownership to 35 percent is going to be folded into a broader “omnibus” appropriations measure-and that the lawmaker will drop his efforts to block a Senate vote on the legislation. In an impromptu briefing with reporters, Sen. McCain confirmed that he had put a hold on the legislation in an effort to strip out the cap rollback. But he said it would be “inappropriate” to attempt to block a vote once the language is included in the omnibus legislation. Sen. McCain, however, also vowed to try to strip out the cap rollback with an amendment once the omnibus legislation reaches the Senate floor. On a related front, Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said that the prognosis is bad for his resolution to overturn all of the Federal Communications Commission’s media ownership deregulation, largely because House Republican leaders are fighting it behind the scenes. However, he is not throwing in the towel. “If members of the House are able to create enough pressure to force a vote on the resolution, it will pass,” Sen. Dorgan said.
CBS, NBC Order More Reality
CBS has given the official go-ahead for a fifth season of Emmy Award winner “The Amazing Race” and has renewed summer reality series “Big Brother,” also for a fifth season. Meanwhile, NBC has ordered six more hour-long episodes of summer reality series “The Restaurant,” which will continue to be executive produced by Mark Burnett, Ben Silverman and Robert Riesenberg. Chef Rocco DiSpirito from the first edition has yet to sign on for a second edition. If a deal is not reached with Mr. DiSpirito, producers likely will chronicle the opening of a new restaurant with a different chef.
Ins and Outs
John Calley has resigned as chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, the movie and TV arm of Sony Corp., the company announced. … Former “Seinfeld” cast member Jason Alexander has signed a deal to star in a CBS comedy pilot based on the work of Washington Post journalist Tony Kornheiser.