News Briefs: Disney Sues Disney

Apr 12, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Roy Disney is stepping up his efforts to get employee-voter data from the company’s March 3 shareholders meeting. The disgruntled former Walt Disney Co. board member filed a lawsuit last week in Delaware Chancery Court to force the entertainment company to reveal the results. The suit is Mr. Disney’s latest attempt to gain access to data on how Disney employees with stakes in the company through employee retirement plans voted on CEO Michael Eisner’s re-election to the company board. Though Mr. Eisner suffered a huge blow at that meeting (43 percent of the votes cast withheld support for his re-election), Mr. Disney has suggested that an overwhelming majority of the Disney employee votes withheld support for Mr. Eisner-a statistic that would illustrate unrest within the company. Mr. Disney filed the suit after Disney executives said they would release the data to him on the condition that Mr. Disney sign a confidentiality agreement before reviewing the results. Meanwhile, in a move that could signal his acknowledgement that his work as Disney’s non-executive chairman won’t be easy, George Mitchell said he won’t seek re-election to the Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide board when his term expires May 7.
Four A’s, ANA Team for Upfront Reform
The American Association of Advertising Agencies said last week that 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 meet 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 2004 upfront, which begins May 17.
Minow Asks FCC to Mandate Political Time
Former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Newton Minow formally asked the agency last week to adopt rules requiring broadcasters to provide free time for local political races in their communities. Under the proposed rule, radio and TV stations would be required to earmark 20 minutes a day to “significant local races” during the 30 days before a general election, with five of those minutes in prime time. In his petition, Mr. Minow-together with former FCC General Counsel Henry Geller-said a requirement is needed because recent studies have shown that many broadcasters are giving political campaigns short shrift. “The broadcast licensee, as a public trustee, has a special obligation to present political broadcasts, including serving as an effective local outlet in this respect,” the two former agency officials said in their request. Said a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters, in response, “Way too often, broadcasters offer time to politicians and they don’t take advantage of it.”
`Stones,’ `Cracking,’ `Wonderfalls’ Get Benched
CBS has pulled the midseason sitcom “The Stones” off the air, effective immediately. For the next two weeks, CBS will air “King of Queens” repeats in its 9:30 p.m. Wednesday time slot following original “King of Queens” episodes. “The Stones” is officially on hiatus. Also back on the bench is sitcom “Cracking Up,” which Fox has put on hiatus after it pulled a 1.6/5 in adults 18 to 49 and 3.4 million viewers April 5, according to Nielsen Media Research. “Cracking Up’s” Monday 8:30 p.m. time slot will be filled with reruns of “Bernie Mac.” Fox has canceled midseason drama “Wonderfalls” after four airings. The show was moved to Thursday nights at 9 p.m. last month against two of the most popular shows on television: NBC’s “The Apprentice” and CBS’s “CSI.” It scored a 1.0 Nielsen Media Research rating and 3 share in adults 18 to 49, below the 1.7/4 the time period had averaged the four weeks before. It managed to attract only 2.9 million total viewers. Fox now plans to air same-week repeats of its new reality show “The Swan” at 9 p.m. Thursdays.