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Jul 20, 2004  •  Post A Comment

NBC Won’t Redeem Paxson Shares

NBC has elected not to exercise its right to redeem all or part of its Paxson Communications Corp. Series B convertible exchangeable preferred stock, Paxson announced today.

NBC owns about 32 percent of Paxson, which operates Pax TV. In a press release Monday, Paxson said NBC has a 60-day period, beginning every Sept. 15, during which it can demand that Paxson redeem any shares of its series B preferred stock held by NBC.

NBC had been granted an extension under which it promised not to demand share redemption before March 28, 2003, without giving five days written notice.

Diller Calls for New Fin-Syn Rules: USA Interactive Chairman and CEO Barry Diller today urged broadcasters to lobby for new fin-syn rules and other regulatory restrictions to limit the power of broadcast and cable networks. “The big bad truth is that … the Big 4 TV networks have in fact reconstituted themselves into the oligopoly that the FCC originally set out to curb back in the 1960s,” Mr. Diller said in the opening keynote speech at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas. “The conventional wisdom is wrong. We need more regulation, not less.”

Under the fin-syn rules that used to be on the Federal Communications Commission’s books, networks were barred from acquiring interests in much of their prime-time programming. The rules were intended to protect independent producers.

The FCC threw out those regulations almost a decade ago, based on the argument that competition from cable networks would protect the programming marketplace.

But since the rules were ejected, Mr. Diller said, the major networks have beefed up their presence in the programming marketplace through ownership stakes in broadcast and cable networks, becoming “vertically integrated monoliths, acting with each other in their own horizontal keiretsu.”

“The conglomerates are like the Rothchilds funding both sides in the Napoleonic wars,” Mr. Diller said. “They are on both sides of every transaction.”

Also in the interests of curbing network power, Mr. Diller advocated retention of the FCC rule that currently bars broadcasters from acquiring TV stations reaching more than 35 percent of the nation’s TV homes.

“With such growing and unstoppable power, and with our nation’s communications infrastructure in the breach, there must be fierce focus and vigor for the appropriate safeguards, and these new rules must extend to the remarkably concentrated cable distributors,” Mr. Diller said.Mr. Diller also said the sense of public responsibility that once tempered the power of the major networks “simply doesn’t exist for these [new] vertically integrated giant media conglomerates, driven only to fit the next piece in their puzzle for world media dominance.”

“The barrier to entry is now so incredibly high that the ability of a new entrant to actually go out and get voice is practically nil,” Mr. Diller said.

He said that the reason nobody has been complaining very loudly about the situation is that “The circle of control is now too small.”

NBC Edges Out Fox Repeats: With one-third of Fox’s sitcom lineup in repeats last night, NBC took advantage and won the night in adults 18 to 49. NBC’s Law & Order: Criminal Intent was the highest-rated show of the night in adults 18 to 49 with a 5.7 rating and 13 share, according to Nielsen Media Research fast affiliate data. NBC also got a boost from a Katie Couric special from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. in which Ms. Couric interviewed the woman known as the Central Park Jogger, whose identity was revealed for the first time. The special garnered a first-place 5.4/13 in adults 18 to 49 and 13.4 million viewers.

With a repeat The Simpsons lead-in, Fox’s midseason sitcom Oliver Beene fell to its lowest numbers yet in adults 18 to 49 with a 4.0/10 and 8.2 million viewers. That was still good enough to edge out the second half of NBC’s American Dreams in adults 18 to 49 (3.9/10). Fox’s other new sitcom The Pitts fared worse, with a 3.4/8 in the demo and 7.4 million viewers.

For the night, NBC won in adults 18 to 49 with a 4.4/11, followed by Fox (3.6/9), ABC (2.7/7) and CBS (2.6/7). In total viewers, NBC won with 12.1 million, followed by CBS (9.6 million), ABC (7.7 million) and Fox (7.6 million).

Basketball lifts CBS to Saturday win: The big winner Saturday night was CBS with the semifinals of the NCAA basketball tournament. CBS won the night in adults 18 to 49 (4.1/12) and total viewers (10.8 million). The two-hour finale of ABC’s Are You Hot? barely registered with the first hour from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. scoring a 1.7/5 in the demo. But it wasn’t bad enough to sink ABC to last place for the night — that honor went to NBC, which aired a half-hour Making of Fear Factor special that registered a mere 1.1/4 in adults 18 to 49 and 3.3 million viewers, followed by the movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which didn’t fare much better.

For the night, CBS finished first in adults 18 to 49 with a 4.1/12, followed by Fox (3.2/10), ABC (2.0/6) and NBC (1.7/5). In total viewers, CBS was first with 10.8 million, followed by Fox (8.2 million), ABC (5.7 million) and NBC (5.1 million).

‘Talented Kid’ tops ‘Star Search’: NBC dominated Friday night with America’s Most Talented Kid winning its first battle against CBS’s Star Search from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. “Kid” scored a 3.6/12 in adults 18 to 49 and 11.2 million viewers compared with Star Search’s 1.9/6 and 7.5 million viewers. NBC’s Ed handily won its 9 p.m.-to-10 p.m. time slot by a 42 percent margin with a 3.7/11 in the demo and 10.3 million viewers. The second week of ABC sitcom Regular Joe came in second in adults 18 to 49 with a 2.4/7 in the demo.

For the night, NBC won in adults 18 to 49 with a 4.3/13, followed by ABC (2.8/9), Fox (2.3/7) and CBS (1.8/6). In total viewers, NBC won with 12.4 million followed by ABC (8.1 million), CBS (7.4 million) and Fox (5.1 million).

‘Survivor’ Finale in May: CBS will air the finale of Survivor: The Amazon Sunday, May 11, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. (ET), followed by a live reunion show from New York City from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. Survivor host Jeff Probst will also host the live reunion show. Season to date, Survivor is averaging 22.18 million viewers and is the No. 4 most-watched series on TV.

Posted Sunday, April 6

NBC’s David Bloom Dies in Iraq

David Bloom, the NBC News correspondent and anchor whose rolling reports on the progress of the 3rd Infantry Division had made him perhaps the most dashing of the journalists covering the war in Iraq, died Sunday morning after suffering from a pulmonary embolism. He would have been 40 next month.

NBC News said Mr. Bloom was with the Third Infantry Division, 2nd Battalion, 315 Mechanized Unit about 25 miles south of Baghdad when he suddenly collapsed. He received immediate medical attention at the scene and was airlifted to a nearby field medical unit, where he was pronounced dead.

He is the second embedded American journalist to die during the war. Atlantic Monthly editor-at-large and Washington Post columnist Michael Kelly was killed last week when the vehicle in which he was riding swerved off the road and overturned.

Though but one of several hundred journalists embedded with coalition troops, Mr. Bloom had set a high-water mark in the first war to be televised live from the field of battle. He had conceived – and convinced his NBC News bosses to spend upward of a half million dollars on – a way to meld microwave, satellite and gyroscopic technology on a truck dubbed “the Bloom-mobile” that made his on-the-move reports pop out from the images produced by the grainy videophones used by most of his colleagues.

“The Bloom-mobile was one of a kind, and so was David,” said Tim Russert, who had become close to Mr. Bloom after he was named White House correspondent in 1995 and who had nicknamed him “the Bloomster.”

Mr. Russert, along with “Today” anchors Katie Couric and Matt Lauer, remembered Mr. Bloom as “one of the best and the brightest” on a somber Sunday edition of “Weekend Today,” which Mr. Bloom had co-anchored with Soledad O’Brien since March 2000.

It wa
s an assignment that allowed him to spend more time with his wife Melanie and their three daughters, the oldest twins, now 9, and the youngest 3, than the other assignments he had since leaving NBC-owned WTVJ-TV in Miami, where he had been hired in 1989 and formed a mentoring relationship with Don Browne, the station’s general manager who is a former NBC News executive.

“We wanted to get him to the network,” Mr. Browne said on “Today,” recalling Mr. Bloom’s ability to find the heart of a story. “It wasn’t about David Bloom it was about the people he was telling the story about.”

On “Today” and on MSNBC, which had regularly featured Mr. Bloom’s reports from Iraq, he was recalled by his colleagues as a resourceful and energetic correspondent – NBC correspondent Bob Faw said he’d earned the nickname “robo-correspondent” — who prepared thoroughly and pushed deadlines and himself to give his all to each story and to those around him. Mr.Bloom regularly mentioned his cameraman, Craig White, during his Iraq reports.

“I rode into this war on his shoulders,” said Chip Reid, another of NBC News’ embedded correspondents. Mr. Reid said Mr. Bloom had prepared “an encyclopedic outline” of the history of Iraq and a wide range military matters and generously asked: “You want a copy of it?”

Mr. Reid, who said Mr. Bloom had insisted he get himself boots said to offer some protection against land mines, called Mr. Bloom “the classiest act as a reporter.”

“He was one of the best and brightest,” said Ms. Couric.

“He died doing what he loved and what he did best,” said Ms. O’Brien.

“David Bloom was an extraordinary man and dedicated journalist; his courage, passion, and unerring devotion to his craft was unparalleled. Over the past few weeks, we marveled as he demonstrated a tireless devotion to this story,” said NBC News President Neal Shapiro. “At this incredibly difficult time, our thoughts and prayers are with David’s family and all of our brave colleagues who remain overseas.”

“In times like these, a journalist’s contribution to his country is measured in terms of illustrious commitment and sacrifice,” said NBC Chairman Bob Wright in a statement. “There was no one more devoted to his calling than David Bloom and for that we are both grateful and humbled.”

“All of us at GE are saddened by the untimely passing of our colleague David Bloom,” said GE Chairman Jeffrey Immelt in a statement. “Over the past few weeks, David’s reporting of the war in Iraq has been outstanding and made us all proud. NBC News viewers have benefited from his tireless and fearless personal accounts of traveling with the Third Infantry Division. Our hearts and prayers are with David’s wife Melanie, his three daughters, and his entire family during this difficult time.” There was no immediate word on funeral arrangements.