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Nov 10, 2003  •  Post A Comment

‘Smart,’ ‘Lynch’ Capture Viewers

In the battle of made-for-TV movies Sunday night, CBS’s “The Elizabeth Smart Story” tied NBC’s “Saving Jessica Lynch” in adults 18 to 49, while “Elizabeth Smart” just edged the NBC movie in total viewers. “Elizabeth Smart” pulled a 5.4/14 in adults 18 to 49 and 15.7 million viewers, compared with “Jessica Lynch’s” 5.4/13 and 14.9 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data. “Elizabeth Smart” started a half-hour late at 9:30 p.m. due to a football runover, so numbers may change slightly when final national figures are available.

The Elizabeth Smart movie helped propel CBS to a nightly win in adults 18 to 49 with a 4.9/12. NBC was second with a 4.5/11, followed by Fox (4.3/11), ABC (3.2/8) and The WB (1.7/4). In total viewers, CBS won the night with 16.9 million, followed by NBC (13.2 million), Fox (9.3 million), ABC (9.2 million) and The WB (3.6 million).

Robbins, Bodenheimer to Testify: Cox Communications President and CEO Jim Robbins and ESPN/ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer are slated to bring their escalating battle over carriage terms for the cable sports network to Washington in a major way this Thursday as the star industry witnesses in a hearing on cable rates before the Senate Commerce Committee.

In an unusually public fight, the cable industry chieftains have been trying to pin the blame for skyrocketing cable rates on each other. But in a recent report, the General Accounting Office pointed the finger at cable operators and programmers by blaming programming costs and infrastructure investment.

Also on the hearing’s witness list are Mark Goldstein, a GAO director, Robert Sachs, president and CEO, National Cable & Telecommunications Association, and Gene Kimmelman, a senior director of the Consumers Union.

EchoStar Reports Q3 Results: Satellite operator EchoStar Communications swung to a third-quarter profit of $35.1 million, vs. red ink of $168 million a year ago, helped by subscriber growth at the company’s Dish Network satellite service, the company said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing late Monday.

Revenue at the No. 2 direct broadcast satellite company surged 19 percent to $1.45 billion, driven by subscriber growth and increased revenue per customer. Subscription revenue surged 22 percent to $1.36 billion, as the company’s subscriber base swelled to 9.1 million from 7.8 million a year ago.

The company has scheduled an earnings call Tuesday at noon to provide additional details of the third-quarter results.

Young Broadcasting Reports Q3 Loss: Station group owner Young Broadcasting reported Monday that it posted a widened third-quarter loss of $11.3 million, or 57 cents a share, compared with red ink of $8.9 million, or 45 cents a share, a year ago, as the lack of political advertising revenue offset the strength in local advertising, particularly at Young’s flagship station, KRON-TV in San Francisco.

Revenue for the New York-based owner of 11 stations fell more than 11 percent to $51.4 million, thanks to a $6.7 million drop in political advertising to $2.2 million in the quarter. That drop was partially offset by $900,000 in political advertising spending at KRON-TV, which took in $900,000 in connection with the California governor’s recall election, vs. $650,000 taken in during the 2002 election cycle.

Indeed, KRON-TV was the bright spot in Young’s stable of stations, recording an 11 percent jump in third-quarter revenue, thanks to higher ratings from its newscasts and its airing of “Dr. Phil.”

Fox Getting a ‘Complex’: Fox has bought a new reality series, “The Complex” from FremantleMedia North America. “The Complex,” will follow four couples who will move into a condo complex in southern California. Each couple will have two months to renovate their condo unit within a certain budget. After they are finished, the condos will be sold at a public auction, with the couples keeping any profits from the sale.

“The Complex” is based on an Australian format called “The Block.” “The Block’s” finale in August drew the highest rating of any show in Australia in 15 years. Ted Haimes will executive produce “The Complex.”

Frost Interview With Bush to Air Nov. 16: “President George W. Bush Talking With David Frost,” an hour-long interview that will be taped this Wednesday before for the president’s trip to the United Kingdom Nov. 18-21, is scheduled to air on public broadcasting stations Sunday, Nov. 16, after it is seen on the BBC on “Breakfast With Frost” at 5 a.m (ET).

Williams Gives Up CNBC Anchor Duties: Brian Williams will cease anchoring “The News With Brian Williams” on CNBC in January to free him to focus full time on reporting and anchoring for NBC News as he prepares to succeed Tom Brokaw as anchor of “NBC Nightly News” following the 2004 presidential election.

“We are heading into an incredibly busy news cycle in 2004 with the primary season, the conventions, the Olympics and the elections,” NBC News President Neal Shapiro said. “With the transition at ‘Nightly’ on the horizon, it’s more important than ever that Brian is able to turn his full attention to the network for the coverage of these stories.”

There was no word on who might take Mr. Williams’ chair on “The News.”

‘Christmas in Rockefeller Center’ to Air Dec. 3: “Christmas in Rockefeller Center,” the annual live national telecast of the lighting of the quintessential holiday tree, has been scheduled for 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. (ET) Wednesday, Dec. 3.

Once again hosting the special are “Today” weather and feature reporter Al Roker and news anchor Ann Curry. Among those scheduled to appear are Tracy Morgan, whose comedy “The Tracy Morgan Show” is scheduled to debut Dec. 2 on NBC, and “American Idol”-created stars Kelly Clarkson and Ruben Studdard.

Tribune Promotes Giannini to WPHL VP: Tribune Co. has promoted Vincent Giannini, station manager of Tribune-owned WPIX-TV in New York since 2001, to VP and general manager of WPHL-TV in Philadelphia. The move takes effect immediately. Before moving to New York Mr. Giannini was director of finance and administration for Tribune’s KTLA-TV in Los Angeles and senior financial analyst for WGN-TV in Chicago.

Disney Announces Animated ‘Barbarian’: Disney Channel has announced a new animated comedy series, “Disney’s Dave the Barbarian,” to premiere in January 2004. The show follows the adventures of a peace-loving barbarian in the Middle Ages. The show is produced by Walt Disney Television Animation and is created by Doug Langdale, who served as a writer on Disney’s “Hercules,” “Aladdin” and “Darkwing Duck.”