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Apr 12, 2004  •  Post A Comment

President Bumps ‘Idol’

Fox is moving hit show “American Idol” to Wednesday and Thursday this week to accommodate a press conference by President George Bush on Tuesday night. Fox will air the president’s press conference in prime time tomorrow night. The usually live “Idol” will still be taped on Tuesday night, but will air on Wednesday at 8 p.m., bumping “That ’70s Show.” “The O.C.” will air in its regular 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday time slot.

The results show of “Idol,” which usually airs for a half-hour on Wednesday, will now air on Thursday from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Thursday time slot will test “Idol’s” mettle. “Idol” is the most popular show on television, but will be going up against heavy hitters such as CBS’s “Survivor” and NBC’s “Friends” and “Will & Grace.”

The presidential press conference also will displace “24,” which was rescheduled for Sunday at 9 p.m. Fox had all original episodes of “24” scheduled for the rest of the season so the network had to find another time slot for it this week.

RTNDA Protests Scalia’s Taping Policy: The Radio-Television News Directors Association on Monday protested a new policy by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia that will allow print media reporters to tape his public remarks for newspaper reports but continues to bar radio and TV coverage.

The judge came under a storm of criticism from journalism organizations last week after a U.S. marshal ordered two reporters to erase tape recordings of a speech he gave at a Hattiesburg, Miss., high school. But in an April 9 letter to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Justice Scalia said he had not directed the marshal to take action and had apologized to the reporters involved. He also said he was “undertaking to revise my policy so as to permit recording for use of the print media.” Added the justice, “The electronic media have in the past respected my First Amendment right not to speak on radio or television when I do not wish to do so, and I am sure that courtesy will continue.” In an April 12 letter to the judge, RTNDA President Barbara Cochran said the continued bar on radio and TV coverage flouted the First Amendment.

“To exclude television cameras and audio recording is the equivalent of taking away pencil and paper from print reporters,” Ms. Cochran said. “Your policy puts television and radio journalists at a distinct disadvantage.”

CNN Editor Wounded in Fallujah: A CNN editor with the U.S. TV pool covering the hostilities in Fallujah was slightly wounded in during an Iraqi insurgent attack on U.S. Marines Monday. Atlanta-based international desk assignment editor Tomas Etzler, who was functioning as producer for the pool crew that over the weekend replaced last week’s pool crew.

According to a CNN representative, Mr. Etzler was wearing a helmet and other protective gear when he received “light wounds” to his head and back. Early word about the incident was inconclusive as to whether Mr. Etzler would require stitches. But he was described as intending to remain on assignment with the pool, which was instituted last week by the news divisions of ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox and NBC to minimize the risk in reporting on the fight for control of the city in the volatile Sunni Triangle. Several Marines were reportedly hurt in the attack but no other journalists.

‘Nick & Jessica’ Boosts ABC’s Ratings: ABC’s special “The Nick & Jessica Variety Hour” easily won its time slot last night in adults 18 to 49 and total viewers. Up against movies on CBS and NBC, a “Simpsons” rerun on Fox and The WB’s “High School Reunion” at 9 p.m., “Nick & Jessica” scored a 4.7 rating and 11 share in adults 18 to 49-51 percent above second-place NBC-and 11.7 million total viewers.

The special, along with the time-slot-winning “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (4.5/12) at 8 p.m., helped push ABC to a nightly victory in adults 18 to 49 with a 3.9/11. CBS was second with a 2.8/8, followed by Fox (2.7/8), NBC (2.5/7) and The WB (1.1/3).

In total viewers, CBS won the night with 10.1 million, followed by ABC (9.9 million), NBC (8.5 million), Fox (6.2 million) and The WB (2.3 million).

Time, ABC News Annouce Obesity Summit: Time magazine and ABC News will convene a summit on obesity June 2-4 in Williamsburg, Va., to address questions related to what has been described as a national epidemic.

The project is being presented by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a philanthropic organization devoted to health and health care.

In addition to contributing some of their own talent, including ABC anchor Peter Jennings and medical editor Dr. Tim Johnson, each of the news organizations plans special reports to appear in print and on the air the first week in June. Mr. Jennings will anchor “World News Tonight” from Williamsburg Thursday, June 3.

Gannett, N.Y. Times Report Higher Revenues: Stronger political advertising spending and a recovering overall advertising market helped a pair of newspaper groups with television stations post revenue gains in the first quarter.

Gannett, which owns 22 TV stations, said its station group recorded a 7 percent increase in revenue to $169.5 million from a year-earlier level of $158.2 million, largely due to increased political advertising spending, which the company projected would exceed $90 million in 2004. The station group also reported a 9 percent increase in operating cash flow to $77 million.

Those results led the overall company to post a 10 percent increase in first-quarter profit to $274.4 million, or $1 a share, compared with a year-ago figure of $249.8 million, or 93 cents a share. Revenue rose 11 percent to $1.7 billion.

Meanwhile, The New York Times Co. said its eight television stations reported a 9 percent increase in revenue to $35.1 million, while operating profit climbed 30 percent to $6.4 million. The company cited an increase in political advertising spending as the trigger for the increases.

The station group’s results contributed to the company’s 2 percent rise in revenue and helped to offset an increase in expenses. Nevertheless, the company still reported a 15 percent decline in profit to $58.4 million, or 39 cents a share, vs. $68.8 million, or 45 cents a share, a year ago.