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Feb 24, 2004  •  Post A Comment

‘Sex and the City’ Finale Sets Record

The final episode of HBO’s “Sex and the City” on Sunday drew the highest ratings in the series’ history. Within the premium network’s universe, the show registered a 21.8 rating and 28 share, representing 10.6 million viewers. The show is the most watched program on cable this year, topping the NBA All-Star Game televised by TNT, and is the most watched show on HBO since the season four premiere of “The Sopranos” in 2002.

Gemstar Strikes Deal With Mitsubishi: Gemstar-TV Guide International today said it has struck a deal with electronics maker Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America in which Gemstar will license its interactive program guide, TV Guide On Screen, to Mitsubishi to install in its digital televisions and digital recorders.

The multiyear agreement is one of several Gemstar has entered into in recent months, including deals with Matsushita, Philips, Samsung, Sharp and Sony. Under the terms of the Mitsubishi pact, the electronics maker will pay Gemstar a licensing fee based on the number of units sold with TV Guide On Screen installed.

Jones Named TV Land, Nick at Nite President: Larry Jones was promoted to the newly created position of president, TV Land and Nick at Nite, from executive VP and general manger. Mr. Jones will continue to be responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of TV Land and Nick at Nite. In recent months, Mr. Jones’ responsibilities have expanded to include oversight over all original production and development as well as advertising sales for the two networks. Separately, TV Land announced that Mary Tyler Moore, Andy Griffith, Marlo Thomas and Danny DeVito are among the featured performers slated to appear during the second annual “TV Land Awards: A Celebration of Classic TV.” Brad Garrett of “Everybody Loves Raymond” will host the two-hour special, which will be taped March 7 at the Hollywood Palladium. The awards show will premiere March 17 at 9 p.m.

Study: TV Watching, Junk Food Ads Fuel Childhood Obesity: Television viewing and junk food ads appear to be fueling an epidemic of childhood obesity in the United States, according to a report released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The report said that contrary to conventional wisdom, television does not appear to pre-empt more vigorous physical activity for youngsters. But the report said the majority of scientific research finds that the children who spend the most time watching television are more likely to be overweight.

“Children’s exposure to billions of dollars worth of food advertising and marketing in the media may be a key mechanism through which media contributes to childhood obesity,” the report said. In addition, the report said “there is an opportunity to reduce children’s body weight by curbing the time they spend with media.” The report recommended a variety of proposals for curbing childhood obesity, including limiting the time children are permitted to spend with television and other media.

Other recommendations include reducing or regulating food ads for kids, expanding public education campaigns promoting healthy diet habits and exercise, and incorporating information about healthy diets into the story lines for children’s programming. “The health implications of childhood obesity are staggering,” said Vicky Rideout, VP and director of Kaiser’s program for the study of entertainment media and health.

In a separate report released Monday, the American Psychological Association said young children are so vulnerable to advertising that commercials should be strictly limited on programming aimed at kids. The APA report recommended a range of options that includes a complete advertising prohibition on programming with audiences primarily comprising children 8 and younger.

Lineup Announced for Next Round of Indecency Hearings: On the witness stand for the industry at indecency hearings before the House telecommunications subcommittee Feb. 26 will be Alex Wallau, president, ABC Television Network; Gail Berman, president of entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Co.; Alan Wurtzel, president, research and development, NBC; Bud Paxson, chairman and CEO, Paxson Communications; John Hogan, president and CEO, Clear Channel Radio; and Harry Pappas, chairman and CEO, Pappas Telecasting. It’s the subcommittee’s second hearing on indecency since Janet Jackson bared her breast during CBS’s live coverage of the Super Bowl halftime show. On the hot seat during the first session earlier this month were Mel Karmazin, Viacom president and chief operating officer, and Paul Tagliabue, National Football League commissioner. The subcommittee has already unanimously approved legislation that would raise broadcast indecency fines tenfold. But Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., promised a second hearing to consider testimony from representatives of the other TV networks and affiliates.Clear Channel Communications Reports Q4 Income Increase: Radio and television broadcaster Clear Channel Communications today said its fourth-quarter net income rose 2 percent to $187 million, or 30 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $184 million, or 30 cents a share, as revenue increased 4 percent to $2.2 billion.

For the year, the San Antonio-based owner of more than 1,200 radio stations and 34 television stations, posted a 58 percent surge in profit to $1.2 billion, or $1.85 a share, compared with net income of $725 million, or $1.18 a share. Revenue climbed 6 percent to $8.9 billion.

The rise in 2003 profit was the result of a $727 million pretax gain tied to Clear Channel’s investment in Spanish-language broadcaster Univision Communications, the sale of an investment in American Tower and the early retirement of debt. Excluding those items, Clear Channel’s 2003 profit would have been $726 million.

In the company’s “other” category, which includes the TV station operations, revenue fell 8 percent to $152.6 million for the fourth quarter but rose 5 percent to $556.6 million for the year.

ABC Slates ‘D.A.’ for March 19 Premiere: ABC’s new drama “The D.A.” will premiere Friday, March 19, from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. (ET). It will run for four consecutive weeks in that time slot. Current time slot occupant “20/20” will air special editions Monday, March 22, and Monday, March 29, at 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. before returning to its Friday time slot April 16 after “The D.A.” finishes its run.

Harvey Named Outdoor Life Network President: Comcast named Gavin Harvey president of its Outdoor Life Network, keeping the executive in the family by shifting him from E! Networks. He most recently served as executive VP, marketing, and brand director at E! Networks. OLN is owned by Comcast, and E! Networks is majority-owned by Comcast. While at E! Mr. Harvey spearheaded the rebranding of E! and Style Network. OLN reaches more than 55 million customers.

WGBH, WNET Pool Digital Programming Libraries: Public television stations WGBH-TV in Boston and WNET-TV in New York are pooling some of their digital spectrum and programming libraries to create two additional digital channels as part of their respective digital suites for viewers in the Northeast.

The mandate for one channel, called World, will be to provide “perspective, analysis and understanding” by offering such series as “Charlie Rose,” “Frontline,” “American Experience,” “The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer,” “BBC World News,” “Wide Angle,” “Nightly Business Report,” “Nova,” “Nature,” “American Masters” and more.

The second channel, called Create, will cater to “personal interests, hobbies and passions” by offering such series as “Antiques Roadshow,” “This Old House,” “Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen,” “Globe Trekker,” “The Best of Simply Painting” and “Experience America.”

The channels will be available both over the air (to digital set owners) and on digital cable platforms. WGBH will launch the two channels (in addition to a channel called Kids) Monday, March 1, with commitments for 1.7 million Comcast subscribers in Massachusetts and southern New England. WNET has no cable commitments for the two new channels yet.

Mediacom Reports Q4 Profit: Cable operator Me
diacom Communications on today that said it swung to a fourth-quarter profit of $7.1 million, or 6 cents a share, from a loss of $49 million, or 41 cents a share, a year ago, as growth in high-speed data subscriptions offset a decline in basic-cable customers. Revenue advanced 8 percent to $258.8 million.

For the year, Middletown, N.Y.-based Mediacom reported a narrowed loss of $62.5 million, or 53 cents a share, from previous red ink of $161.7 million, or $1.35 a share, a year ago. Revenue jumped 9 percent to $1 billion.

The quarterly results were driven by a 58 percent surge in high-speed data revenue and a slight increase in advertising revenue, which helped minimize the impact of subscriber losses in basic cable and analyst premium cable services.

The loss of basic cable subscribers came at the hands of satellite operators, which continued to make inroads in many of Mediacom’s markets. Mediacom officials said the company’s exposure to satellite’s local-into-local service grew to 62 percent of Mediacom systems at the end of 2003, compared with 15 percent at the end of 2002, and was slated to reach 83 percent of Mediacom’s footprint by the middle of 2004.