News Briefs

Dec 8, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Two “60 Minutes” stories, a “60 Minutes II” story and an installment in the public broadcasting series “Frontline” won the first four Business and Financial Reporting Emmys handed out by the National Television Academy at a luncheon last Thursday in New York. The “60 Minutes” wins were for “Unhealthy Diagnosis,” a report by Ed Bradley on a long pattern of patients being tricked into unnecessary heart surgery at hospitals owned by Tenet Healthcare Corp.; and Steve Kroft’s story on New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, “The Sheriff of Wall Street.” The “60 Minutes II” winner was Charlie Rose’s profile of eBay. In the “Frontline” hour, “The Wall Street Fix,” Hedrick Smith reported on factors behind investment scandals. Wall Street Journal Managing Editor Paul Steiger co-sponsored the lunch with the academy.
Cox to Carry Fox Networks
Cox Communications last week agreed to carry the National Geographic Channel, which is distributed by Fox Cable Networks Group. Cox was the only major multiple system operator not carrying National Geographic, the fastest-growing network, now in 47 million homes. The deal was part of a larger agreement that will keep the Fox regional sports networks on Cox systems for six years. Cox, which has been complaining about the high cost of sports programming, had threatened to remove the networks from its channel lineups as soon as January. Terms of the deal, which covers 3.3 million subscribers, were not disclosed, but reports peg the increase at just under 10 percent a year. Cox also agreed to carry Fuel, Fox’s extreme-sports channel.
Lifetime Renews `Strong Medicine’
Lifetime Television has renewed its original drama series “Strong Medicine” for a fifth season of 22 episodes. In addition to the renewal, Lifetime acquired the off-network rights to the show, which is produced by Sony Pictures Television. The cable network plans to run the drama as a Monday-to-Friday strip, marking the first time a cable original series has been sold as a strip.
`Simple Life’ Starts Strong; `Wanda’ Whacked
Fox’s “The Simple Life” was the highest-rated show in adults 18 to 49 Tuesday and Wednesday night last week in its two-day debut. On Tuesday “Simple” scored a 5.9 Nielsen Media Research rating and 16 share in adults 18 to 49, winning its 8:30 p.m.-to-9 p.m. time slot. It drew 13 million viewers. On Wednesday, “Simple’s” 18 to 49 audience grew 10 percent and pulled a 6.6/18. It attracted 13.3 million viewers. Fox meanwhile pulled the plug on sitcom “Wanda at Large,” which has been off the air since the beginning of November sweeps following disappointing numbers in its Friday time slot. “Simple” was among a handful of primetime series that debuted last week. In its Tuesday night debut, new NBC sitcom “The Tracy Morgan Show” turned in a second-place 4.1/12 in adults 18 to 49 from 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., but a second episode at 8:30 p.m. dropped to a third-place 3.7/10. “Tracy” pulled in 9.9 million viewers at 8 p.m. and 8.7 million at 8:30 p.m. ABC’s new drama “Line of Fire” premiered in “NYPD Blue’s” Tuesday 10 p.m. time slot and finished third in adults 18 to 49 with a 3.1/8 and 9.4 million total viewers. ABC also got a solid performance Wednesday at 10 p.m. out of “Extreme Home Makeover,” which won its time slot in adults 18 to 49 with a 5.8/16, becoming the first series to beat an original episode of NBC’s “Law & Order” in 3 1/2 years. “Extreme” also attracted 12.1 million viewers.
`The Reagans’ Scores for Showtime
“The Reagans” was Showtime’s highest-rated original movie in two years, since its telecast of “The Day Reagan Was Shot,” according to the network. The cable net declined to provide audience figures from Nielsen Media Research, but claimed the new movie, which it acquired after CBS dropped it amid controversy, drew twice the network’s usual prime-time audience. According to Nielsen figures furnished by a source, Showtime registered a 3.7 Nielsen rating and 5 share in its universe of about 12 million subscribers (about 1.1 million total viewers).