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Apr 8, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Turner Speaks to HRTS

Media companies should act responsibly and self-censor their content, said Ted Turner, speaking Thursday to the Hollywood Radio and Television Society, a day after receiving his star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. He said he believes in the principle that he who serves the public best profits the most and that in every business endeavor of his, from creating CNN to the Cartoon Network, he acted responsibly.

“I never commissioned or encouraged a gratuitous, violent film,” he said, noting that he spoke out against the violence in the movie “Natural Born Killers” even though it was produced by Warner Bros., which was part of Time Warner, where he was vice chairman.

“I believe in self-censorship,” he said, adding that the industry shouldn’t need censorship from the government.

Mr. Turner also said that he believes that if Time Warner Chairman Gerald Levin had taken his advice and bought CBS or NBC instead of merging with America Online, the company’s stock price would be at $60 or $70 a share today instead of $17.

Comcast Adds Viacom VOD: Beginning this month Comcast will add content from Viacom-owned networks to its video-on-demand lineup, the cable operator announced Thursday. Shows such as early editions of “The Real World,” “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Blues’s Clues” are included in the deal. Comcast is also adding CBS programming to its VOD lineup, including “The Early Show,” “CBS Evening News” and “48 Hours.”

FCC Fines Clear Channel for Stern Show: The Federal Communications Commission has fined Clear Channel Communications $495,000 for a series of references to oral and anal sex on shock jock Howard Stern’s radio show.

The off-color series of remarks aired on six Clear Channel radio stations on April 9, 2003. The FCC on Thursday fined the company the maximum $27,500 for each of three off-color references that aired on each of the stations. In a statement, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps said the fine is particularly important because it represents the first time the agency has assessed a levy for each of the off-color references in a broadcast “rather than counting an entire program as one utterance.”

He also said the decision establishes a precedent because the actual complaint was filed against only one of the stations-WBGG-FM in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-but the agency decided to move against all six of the stations that were carrying Mr. Stern’s program at the time.

The FCC announced last week that it has ordered an investigation into Infinity’s broadcast of the same programming on its own stations, even though those have not been a subject of the complaint. “The commission is aware that ‘The Howard Stern Show’ originates and is broadcast over stations owned by Infinity Broadcasting Corp.,” the FCC said.

NBC, Vivendi Merger Near Completion: NBC is on track to complete its $14 billion merger with Vivendi Universal Entertainment in May, and is poised to realize $100 million in savings this year and another $300 million in savings next year, said Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and CEO of NBC parent General Electric.

Speaking during GE’s first-quarter earnings conference call, Mr. Immelt estimated that the combined entity, to be called NBC Universal, will generate revenue of $12 billion and operating profit of $2.4 billion in 2004 and $15 billion in revenue and $3.1 billion in operating profit in 2005.

Those predictions came as NBC continued its strong financial performance, posting a 15 percent jump in operating profit to $394 million in the first quarter from a year-earlier level of $343 million, on an 8 percent jump in revenue to $1.6 billion.

NBC during the quarter continued its ratings domination, winning the February sweeps in the key 18 to 49 demo, more than doubling the prime-time viewers among adults 18 to 49 and 25 to 54 at the Bravo cable network and recording a 59 percent jump in weekday prime-time ratings among adults 18 to 49 at the Spanish-language network Telemundo.Keith Sherin, GE’s chief financial officer, described the scatter market at NBC as “up a little bit” and said the company is “expecting the next upfront to be good.”

The network’s first-quarter results helped GE report an 8 percent increase in first-quarter profit to $3.2 billion on a 10 percent rise in revenue to $33.4 billion.

Four A’s, ANA Team for Upfront Reform: The American Association of Advertising Agencies today said it has joined with the Association of National Advertisers in an initiative designed to reform the TV upfront ad buying process. The new Network Upfront Discussion Group-NUDG for short-will be jointly led by the ANA and the Four A’s and will have its first meeting April 29 in New York. NUDG first plans to address the potential of an evening “closing bell” for the daily upfront negotiations. The group will also discuss whether the upfront should be moved to a different month or split into two half-year selling seasons. Up to two NUDG meetings may be scheduled before the start of the 2004 upfront, which begins May 17.

MGM Chairman Gets 2003 Compensation Boost: MGM Chairman and CEO Alex Yemenidjian brought home 57 percent more in take-home pay in 2003 than he did a year earlier, in large part due to a bonus he received for the year, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Mr. Yemenidjian’s total remuneration was $3.98 million last year, compared with a year-earlier figure of $2.52 million. While his base salary was unchanged at $2.5 million, he earned a bonus of more than $1.45 million in 2003. In 2002, he received no bonus.

Meanwhile, Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer Christopher McGurk earned $3.62 million last year, up from $2.21 million the year before. The increase was the result of a slightly higher base salary as well as a $1.33 million bonus. In 2002 he did not receive a bonus.

Adelphia Launches NESN HD: Adelphia Communications has announced the launch of NESN HD, which will carry Boston Bruins playoff games and Boston Red Sox regular-season games. The service is available to Adelphia Digital Cable subscribers in New England who obtain a high-definition set-top box from the cable operator. The service is not available via satellite.