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Nov 12, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Gray Television Q3 Profits Double

Gray Television on Wednesday reported that third-quarter profit more than doubled, while revenue soared 73 percent, largely thanks to the addition of television stations acquired in late 2002.

The Atlanta-based station group said profit for the three-month period was $4.7 million, or 9 cents a share, compared with a profit of $2.3 million, or 14 cents a share, a year ago. (The per-share figure dropped during the period as a result of Gray having more shares outstanding in the 2003 quarter than in the 2002 period.) Revenue was $73.4 million vs. $42.5 million a year earlier.

Much of the company’s growth was fueled by the acquisition of 15 network affiliate stations from the Benedek family’s Stations Holding Co. in October 2002, plus the December purchase of ABC affiliate KOLO-TV in Reno, Nev. Gray also owns four daily newspapers in addition to its 29 TV stations.

Excluding the impact of these newly acquired stations, Gray’s revenue slipped 4 percent due to a sharp drop in political advertising spending, which more than offset advances in local and national advertising spending during the quarter.

Gray officials also reported that the company is near completion of its digital broadcast buildout and has inked deals with DirecTV and EchoStar’s DISH Network to bring local TV channels to the satellite operators’ customers in Gray markets.

Lynch Interview Propels ABC to Nightly Victory: ABC won the night Tuesday in adults 18 to 49 thanks to the strong performance of a 90-minute “PrimeTime Live” special featuring an interview with Jessica Lynch. It scored a first-place 5.8/14 in adults 18 to 49, according to Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data, and pulled in 15.5 million total viewers.

ABC’s “8 Simple Rules” also won its time slot in the demo, but just barely, with a 4.5/13 compared with a 4.4/12 for the first half of CBS’s second-place “Andy Griffith Reunion.” That’s far below the 8.1/21 the series pulled last week, when it returned for the first time without John Ritter.

CBS won the 8 p.m. hour in adults 18 to 49 with the “Andy Griffith Reunion” (4.6/13), which dominated in total viewers with 21.5 million, more than twice as many as second-place ABC had in the hour. CBS won the night in total viewers.

Reruns of “That ’70s Show” at 8 p.m. were a big improvement for Fox on the night. Back-to-back episodes finished in third place in the time slot with a 3.3/9 and provided a better lead-in for “24,” which came in second with a 4.0/10, up 8 percent over last week.

For the night, ABC won adults 18 to 49 with a 5.1/13, followed by NBC (3.8/10), Fox (3.7/10), CBS (3.6/10) The WB (1.8/5) and UPN (1.3/3). In total viewers, CBS won the night with 15.3 million, followed by ABC (13.1 million), NBC (10.3 million), Fox (7.7 million), The WB (4.6 million) and UPN (3.1 million).

Celebrities Lends Voices to IFC Campaign: Susan Sarandon, Seth Green, Jennifer Coolidge, Janeane Garofalo, Richard Dreyfuss, John Michael Higgins, David Rasche and Joan Rivers provide the voice-overs for a promotion campaign for the Independent Film Channel that launches Nov. 14. The episodic 30-second spots were directed by Bob Balaban and carry the theme “Dance With Pain.” The spots chronicle the difficulty of creating a film.

Turner Promotes Two Executives: Turner Broadcasting promoted two of its top ad sales executive. Linda Yaccarino was named executive VP, Turner Entertainment Sales and Marketing. She was previously senior VP. She continues to oversee all entertainment sales for Turner Broadcasting Sales and broadens her executive role within the department. Jon Diament was named senior VP and general sales manager, CNN Advertising Sales, up from senior VP. He now oversees CNN’s national sales offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles and New York.

NFL Network to Air ‘Heidi’: The NFL Network acquired the rights to air “Heidi,” the NBC television movie that became infamous when NBC cut off the end of a New York Jets-Oakland Raiders game in 1968 to air the movie. NFL Network will show the film Nov. 17 at 9 p.m. (ET) to mark the 35th anniversary of what has become known as “The Heidi Game,” which Oakland won with two late touchdowns unseen by Jets fans watching on television.

The NFL network’s presentation also includes an interview with Delbert Mann, the movie’s director; Dick Cline, the NBC executive who switched millions of viewers from the Jets-Raiders game to the television movie; Curt Gowdy, the game’s announcer and Johnny Sample, Jets cornerback. The two key touchdowns that NBC missed will be shown as well.

Two-Day Premiere for ‘Simple Life’: Viewers will get a double dose of “The Simple Life” when it premieres on Fox. The reality show, following socialites Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie as they live on a farm for a month, is slated to debut Tuesday, Dec. 2, from 8:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Fox added a second original episode on Wednesday, Dec. 3, from 8:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., in place of freshman sitcom “A Minute With Stan Hooper.”