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Apr 1, 2004  •  Post A Comment

NAB to Consider Industry Code of Conduct

The National Association of Broadcasters late Thursday announced that the association’s executive committee is forming a special task force on responsible programming that will consider adopting a code of industry conduct. In a statement, NAB said the first meeting of the task force will be held during the NAB’s convention in Las Vegas later this month. “Broadcasters are committed to a plan of voluntary action to deal with the issue of responsible programming,” said Eddie Fritts, NAB president and CEO.

“Given the serious First Amendment concerns surrounding issues related to program content, it is our strong belief that voluntary industry initiatives are far preferable to government regulation.” At NAB’s all-day conference on indecency in Washington, several federal policymakers urged the association to adopt a code. In its statement, the NAB said the task force will also consider a code and a number of options.”

Richard Branson Gets Reality Show: Fox is taking a page from NBC’s playbook, developing a reality series around a rich mogul. Instead of Donald Trump, Fox’s mogul is Sir Richard Branson, the founder and chairman of the Virgin Group of Companies. The series, titled “Branson’s Big Adventure,” will follow Mr. Branson and a group of contestants around the world. At different destinations each week, the contestants will compete in business challenges, with Mr. Branson deciding which person to leave behind at each stop.

Unlike “The Apprentice” in which the winner will get a job running one of Mr. Trump’s companies, it is unclear what the last man standing on this show will win.

“This isn’t about selling a glass of lemonade,” said Mike Darnell, Fox executive VP of specials and alternative programming. “In six weeks, these people will experience challenges and adventures beyond their wildest imagination. It’s not about business acumen; for Branson, it’s about finding that one extraordinary individual who has the right stuff to follow in his footsteps.”

The show is targeted to air later this year. “Branson’s Big Adventure” created by Lori Levin-Hyams, Laura Fuest and Tod Dahlke. Mr. Branson, Ms. Levin-Hyams, Ms. Fuest and Mr. Dahlke are executive producers.

‘Punk’d’ Returns April 25: Music Television announced Thursday that “Punk’d,” created by Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg, will return to the network April 25 at 10 p.m. as part of its Sunday Stew lineup. The third season continues “Punk’d’s” MO of pulling elaborate pranks on entertainment industry celebrities.

TV Guide, NBC Team for Olympics: TV Guide Television Group and NBC signed an integrated programming and marketing agreement to support NBC’s exclusive coverage of the Athens Olympic Games. The alliance is designed to make it easier for viewers to enjoy the full breadth of NBC’s 24-hour Olympic programming from Athens. TV Guide Channel will air special programming on the Olympics and have a special area on its scrolling listing for Olympic events. Spots directing viewers to the TV Guide Channel for even listing information will appear during NBC’s Olympic coverage.

Court TV Launches Legal News Service for TV Stations: Court TV launched a legal news service for local TV stations that will provide prepackaged stories on national and local trials as well as customized coverage for individual markets. Stations that subscribe to the service will receive live and taped material via satellite or fiber.

Time Warner Execs Receive Hefty Raises: Time Warner Chairman and CEO Richard Parsons, who for the past year has overseen the paring down of the media giant’s debt, received a nice reward for his efforts, in the form of a 690 percent jump in his total remuneration to nearly $10 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Mr. Parsons, who was named chairman nearly a year ago, earned a total of $9.99 million in 2003, up from $1.26 million a year ago. The growth came from several areas, including his base salary, which rose to $1.5 million from $1 million, as well as an $8 million bonus in 2003 compared with no bonus a year earlier. Mr. Parsons also received $2.1 million in restricted stock options in 2003, vs. none the year before.

Meanwhile, Jeffrey Bewkes, Time Warner’s chairman of the networks and entertainment group, saw his remuneration jump nearly 200 percent in 2003 to $18.41 million from a year-earlier figure of $6.15 million. Much of the increase for Mr. Bewkes was attributable to an increase in his annual bonus to $6.5 million from a year-earlier figure of $5 million, as well as nearly $11 million in restricted stock options.

Don Logan, chairman of Time Warner’s media and communications group, saw his remuneration rise 49 percent to $9.7 million from a year-earlier level of $6.51 million, while Chief Financial Officer Wayne Pace’s remuneration climbed 54 percent to $5.01 million from a year-earlier $3.26 million.

CBS Cancels ‘Century City’

CBS has canceled midseason drama “Century City” after four airings. In three airings in its regular Tuesday 9 p.m. time slot, “Century City” averaged 7.9 million total viewers and a 2.0/5 in adults 18 to 49.

It drew about 2.5 million viewers less than “The Guardian” was averaging in that time slot. “Century” also got a special airing on Saturday, March 27, following NCAA Basketball Championship games, but it failed to draw in many viewers. “Century City” was produced by Universal Network Television. Paul Attanasio, Katie Jacobs and Ed Zuckerman were executive producers.

INHD to Carry MLB Games: INHD said it plans to carry three Major League Baseball games per week for up to 75 games a year in high definition. The HD season starts with the San Diego Padres home game April 8 against the San Francisco Giants. INHD said the games will be carried in wide-screen, high-resolution format and will feature Dolby Digital 5.1 audio when available. Viewers must to live outside the teams’ market areas to see the games in HD.

Food Network to Produce Nine New Series: Food Network plans to produce over 800 hours of original programming this year, including nine new series and 90 new specials. In prime time Food Network plans to launch seven prime-time series, including “Recipe for Success,” which looks at people who want to enter the culinary world on the front burner, and “Kitchen Cops,” in which a SWAT team of chefs and design experts surprise a homeowner in need of kitchen remodeling.

Appeals Court Declines to Hear Cable Appeal: In a blow to the cable TV industry, the full U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Thursday declined to review a decision that could require cable operators to open their broadband networks to competitive Internet service providers. The watchdog Consumers Union and Consumer Federation of America called the court’s move “good news for consumers, the Internet and the economy.” But the National Cable & Telecommunications Association said it will urge the Federal Communications Commission to seek U.S. Supreme Court review.

In a statement, FCC Chairman Michael Powell said he was disappointed by the ruling and that the agency will “study our options and explore how to continue to advance broadband deployment for all Americans.”

Schuurmans Joins Spike TV: Former Nickelodeon executive Niels Schuurmans is now senior VP and creative director for Spike TV, the network announced today. Mr. Schuurmans is responsible for managing all creative aspects of the audio and visual presentation of the network.

“Niels’ dedication, creativity and extensive experience in network branding will be an invaluable contribution to the culture and success of Spike TV,” said Albie Hecht, president of Spike TV.

Mr. Schuurmans has been part of MTV Networks since 1990, most recently as senior VP, on-air creative, where he oversaw the creative teams that developed and created Nickelodeon’s brand identity.

FSN to Telecast Sports Emmys Highlights: Fox Sports Net will produce and telecast a one-hour highlights program for the 25th Annual Sports Emmy Awards. The awards will be handed out by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences at a b
lack-tie ceremony April 19 at New York’s Marriott Marquis. The FSN program will be telecast at 9 p.m. and midnight May 2 and at 4 p.m. and 2 a.m. May 7. This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Ed and Steve Sabol of NFL Films.

Young Broadcasting Execs’ Compensation Drops: Young Broadcasting Chairman Vincent Young saw his total remuneration slip 1 percent in 2003 as a higher salary failed to offset a decline in his annual bonus, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

Mr. Young’s total remuneration, which consists of a base salary, bonus and payments into a 401(k) plan, was nearly $2.10 million compared with a year-earlier figure of more than $2.11 million. His base salary grew to $1.15 million from $1.09 million a year ago, while his bonus fell to nearly $923,000 from more than $1 million in 2002.

Former President Ronald Kwasnick saw his take-home tumble 37 percent in 2003 to almost $609,000 from a year-earlier figure of $969,100, mostly due to his not receiving a bonus for 2003. Mr. Kwasnick left the company March 31.

Deborah McDermott, Mr. Kwasnick’s replacement, saw her remuneration slip slightly to $882,500 in 2003 from $883,800 in 2002, with the decrease due mainly to a slightly lower bonus in 2003.