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Nov 4, 2003  •  Post A Comment

NBC Officially Axes ‘Boomtown’

NBC has cancelled the critically-acclaimed sophomore drama “Boomtown.” “Boomtown,” produced by DreamWorks and NBC Studios, aired two episodes in its new Friday 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. time slot before NBC put it on hiatus. In its two Friday night airings, “Boomtown” averaged a 2.6/8 in adults 18 to 49 and 7.21 million viewers.

The final nail in “Boomtown’s” coffin was probably the fact that “Third Watch” (Friday at 10 p.m.) and “Average Joe” (Monday at 10 p.m.) scored solid numbers in their time slot debuts.

While “Boomtown” has always gotten rave reviews from the critics, NBC has never seemed to really be in love with it. Last spring, it was on the bubble to come back for a second season, and when it did, it was given an less desirable time slot on Friday night compared with the Sunday 10 p.m. time slot it had last year. The network also instructed the producers to lose a lot of the point-of-view storytelling that made the show unique and become more linear.

Ironically, “Boomtown’s” performance on Sunday’s last year isn’t looking so bad when compared to its replacement “The Lyon’s Den.” At the end of last season, “Boomtown” was winning its 10 p.m. time period in adults 18 to 49, unlike “Lyon’s Den” which has been getting beaten by ABC’s “The Practice.”

FCC Approves Broadcast Flag Technology: The Federal Communications Commission today approved regulations clearing the way for Hollywood studios to prevent Internet redistribution of digital TV programming that is delivered by broadcast stations. With so-called “broadcast flag” technology, the FCC said consumers will continue to be able to make copies of digital broadcast programming. But the technology will impede their ability to download digital broadcasts on to the Internet.

Hollywood already has the technology to prevent Internet redistribution of cable and satellite programming. Without being able to offer similar protections, broadcasters were concerned that Hollywood would shift much of its best programming to cable and satellite.

But in statements, the FCC’s two Democratic commissioners-Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein-said they dissented in part from the FCC’s new regulations, largely because the rules will allow broadcasters to protect redistribution of news programming and content that is already in the public domain.

Consumers Union and the watchdog group Public Knowledge said the new technology would make the more than 40 million DVD players currently owned by consumers at least partly obsolete because they won’t be able to play content recorded on new devices that contain the broadcast flag technology. But in a statement, Preston Padden, executive VP for The Walt Disney Co., said, “Consumers have a big stake in helping to keep high value content on broadcast TV. Today’s FCC decision will do just that. ” Added Jack Valenti, president and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, “This puts digital TV on the same level playing field as cable and satellite delivery. All the way around, the consumer wins, and free TV stays alive.”

Under the rules adopted, broadcast DTV receivers are supposed to be ready to incorporate the flag protections by July 1, 2005.

NAB Urges Court of Appeals to Throw Out Stations Merger Ban: The National Association of Broadcasters today urged the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia to throw out a Federal Communications Commission rule that prohibits two of the four top-rated TV stations in a market from merging. NAB said the restriction, which effectively prohibits mergers in many smaller TV markets, runs afoul of arguments in the agency’s new media ownership rules finding that consolidation might help alleviate the financial stress that many stations are facing. “The top 4 rule is unjustifiable in any market and is particularly egregious in small- and medium-sized markets where the commission concluded that the benefits of consolidation are particularly needed,” NAB said.

Fox Cancels ‘Skin’: Fox has canceled its new drama “Skin” after three episodes. “Skin,” from Warner Bros. Television and Jerry Bruckheimer Productions, sank to a ratings low last night pulling a 1.8/4 in adults 18 to 49 and only 4 million viewers, getting beaten by The WB’s “Everwood” in both measures, according to Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data. Eight episodes of the series had been produced.

In “Skin’s” place on Mondays at 9 p.m., Fox will air original episodes of “Joe Millionaire.” Fox originally had scheduled 10 hours of “Joe” with some episodes airing on Tuesday nights. Last week, Fox pulled “Joe” off Tuesday and cut back the number of hours to eight. Now, “Joe” is back up to 10 hours, airing back-to-back episodes from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Nov. 10, Nov. 17 and Nov. 24, which is the finale. Repeats of “Skin” were airing on Thursdays at 9 p.m. Those will be replaced throughout November by same week repeats of “The O.C.”

Bowen Named TV One Executive VP of Ad Sales: Keith Bowen was named executive VP of advertising sales and marketing for TV One, the new cable television network targeting African American and urban viewers that will launch in January. Mr. Bowen previously was senior VP of TBS and TNT sales.

Liberty Corp. Reports Decline in Q3 Profit: TV station owner Liberty Corp. said Tuesday that it recorded a 15 percent decline in third-quarter profit to $6.1 million, or 32 cents a share, from a year-earlier profit of $7.2 million, or 36 cents a share, the result of a decline in political advertising spending.

Revenue for the Greenville, S.C.-based owner of 15 network-affiliated television stations slipped 2 percent in the quarter to $49.1 million, while broadcast operating profit sank 11 percent to $18.9 million.

Despite the declines, Liberty officials noted they recorded a 4 percent increase in local and national advertising revenue and expect to benefit from the 2004 presidential campaign as well the Summer Olympics, which will provide a lift for the company through its eight NBC affiliates.

NBC, CBS Tie for First in Demo: NBC and CBS tied for first place in adults 18 to 49 Monday night, while CBS won the total viewer race.

NBC got a boost from the premiere of its new reality series “Average Joe,” which scored a 5.8/15 in adults 18 to 49 at 10 p.m., according to Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data. That rating is 45 percent higher than what NBC has been averaging in that time slot so far this season. “Joe” attracted 11.1 million total viewers.

“Joe” beat ABC’s “Monday Night Football” in adults 18 to 49 in the time slot, but finished second to CBS’s “CSI: Miami,” which scored a 6.9/18. “CSI: Miami” also won total viewers for the hour with 19.6 million.

At 8 p.m., NBC dominated with “Fear Factor” pulling a 6.1/16 in adults 18 to 49, beating football and CBS’s comedies. From 9 p.m. to 10 p.m., the highest-rated scripted programming in the demo was CBS’s “Everybody Loves Raymond” (6.2/15) and “Two and a Half Men” (5.5/13).

Fox’s “Joe Millionaire” held steady with last week with a 2.6/7 in adults 18 to 49, but the network’s “Skin” slipped even futher in its third outing, down to a 1.8/4, tied with The WB’s “Everwood.”

For the night in adults 18 to 49, CBS and NBC tied for first with a 5.6/14, followed by ABC (5.2/13), Fox (2.2/6), The WB (2.0/5) and UPN (1.5/4). In total viewers, CBS finished first with 16.3 million, followed by ABC (15.3 million), NBC (12.2 million), The WB (6.1 million), Fox (5 million) and UPN (3.6 million).

CBS Bails Out on ‘Reagans,’ Shifts Miniseries to Showtime: CBS has issued a statement saying it will not broadcast “The Reagans” on Nov. 16 and 18 as previously announced but has licensed it to Showtime.

The statement was released two hours after CBS Entertainment President Nancy Tellem denied at a packed industry breakfast that CBS had made the decision to yank the controversial miniseries and send it to pay-cable sister channel Showtime.

“This decision is based solely on our reaction to seeing the final film, not the controversy that erupted around a draft of the script,” said the late-morning statement, which mentioned no executives and was not att
ributed to anyone.

Earlier, at the annual breakfast grilling of network entertainment presidents sponsored by the International Radio and Television Society, Ms. Tellem acknowledged that the uproar over the miniseries was “pretty hot” and that CBS was “really taking this very seriously.” But she said, “There has not been a decision yet.” When moderator Charlie Rose asked whether a decision might come in the next week, Ms. Tellem said, “I hope so.”

The statement from the network said: “Although the miniseries features impressive production values and acting performances, and although the producers have sources to verify each scene in the script, we believe it does not present a balanced portrayal of the Reagans for CBS and its audience. Subsequent edits that we considered did not address those concerns.

“A free broadcast network, available to all over the public airwaves, has different standards than media the public must pay to view. We do, however, recognize and respect the filmmakers’ right to have their voice heard and their film seen. As such, we have reached an agreement to license the exhibition rights for the film to Showtime, a subscriber-based, pay-cable network. We believe this is a solution that benefits everyone involved.

“This was not an easy decision to make. CBS does tackle controversial subjects and provide tough assessments of prominent historical figures and events, as we did with films such as ‘Jesus,’ ‘9-11’ and ‘Hitler.’ We will continue to do so in the future.”

The network had come under extreme fire and the threat of advertiser boycotts from conservatives after unflattering script details from “The Reagans” leaked to the press.

There was no word on how CBS will fill the four “Reagan” hours Nov. 16 and 18.

Andy Richter to Host Comedy Central Awards Show: Former Conan O’Brien sidekick Andy Richter has agreed to host “The Commies,” Comedy Central’s new awards show. The program will be taped in Los Angeles Saturday, Nov. 22, at Sony Studios and will include more than 15 categories, culminating with the award for the Funniest Person of the Year. Nominees in various categories include Jennifer Aniston, Jim Carrey, Larry David, Will Ferrell, Sean Hayes, Ashton Kutcher and many others. “The Commies” will air Sunday, Dec. 7, at 9 p.m.

James Murdoch Steps Down from News Corp. Board: News Corp. said Tuesday that James Murdoch was stepping down from the company’s board of directors one day after he was named CEO of British Sky Broadcasting.

Mr. Murdoch was named to the top post at BSkyB Monday despite complaints that the interests of minority shareholders could be ignored with his appointment. Mr. Murdoch is the 30-year-old son of News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, whose company holds a 35.4 percent stake in BSkyB.