A&E Networks last week promoted the heads of its two big channels. Abbe Raven was named president of A&E and Dan Davids was named president of History Channel. Both were previously executive VP and general manager of their respective channels. The two longtime A&E executives took those posts in October 2002, when A&E Networks CEO Nick Davatzes moved Ms. Raven from History Channel and Mr. Davids from A&E. “People thought I was a little crazy at the time,” Mr. Davatzes said. “I’ve always believed that if you put the right players in the right position you can win.” He said in their new roles, Ms. Raven and Mr. Davids will have additional profit-and-loss responsibilities for their networks and work more closely with the company’s ad sales unit. The promotions come with both networks humming. A&E has registered eight consecutive months of double-digit ratings growth and in the past year received 24 prime-time Emmy nominations. For History Channel, 2004 has been its most-watched year ever.
Usual Suspects Top Syndie Season
For the 2003-04 season, King World’s “Wheel of Fortune” was the No. 1-rated show in households, coming in at an 8.7 average rating, according to Nielsen Media Research. The runner-up was corporate cousin “Jeopardy!” with a 7.2 rating. Among game shows Buena Vista’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” was the most improved with its 3.6 rating, which placed it at No. 10 among strips, up from a ranking of 18th the previous season. In the daytime talk arena King World’s “The Oprah Winfrey Show” won the top spot with a 6.6 rating, outperforming its spinoff “Dr. Phil,” which garnered a 4.9. Rounding out the top spots in the genre were “Live With Regis and Kelly” (3.6), “Maury” (3.0) and “Montel Williams” (2.5). Telepictures’ “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” scored a 1.7, the highest average of any new show of the season. The second-highest show to debut last season was “The Sharon Osbourne Show” (1.2), which was not renewed for 2004-05. Paramount’s “Entertainment Tonight” maintained its dominance among entertainment newsmagazines with a 5.4 rating; among court shows “Judge Judy” delivered a genre-leading 4.9; and Sony’s “Seinfeld” led the off-network comedy category with a 5.9.
FCC Adopts Kids Digital Rules
The Federal Communications Commission last week adopted new regulations that will require broadcasters that use their digital TV channels to multicast six programming streams to offer up to 18 hours of educational programming for children each week. By a unanimous vote, the FCC also changed its children’s TV rules to require analog and digital broadcasters to begin identifying their educational and informational programming on-air with an “E/I” symbol that appears throughout the programming. The FCC also adopted a regulation that would bar cable operators and analog and digital broadcasters from displaying Web site addresses during children’s programming unless the site offers a “substantial amount of bona fide program-related or other noncommercial content, is not primarily intended for commercial purposes, and the page viewers are first directed to on the site is not used at all for commercial purposes.” Under the FCC’s existing children’s TV rules, analog broadcasters are required to air three hours of educational or informational children’s TV programming each week.
Viacom Launches Blockbuster Exchange Offer
Viacom last week launched an exchange offer that is expected to dispose of the media giant’s entire 81.5 percent stake in the video retailer Blockbuster. As part of the deal, Viacom said holders of its class A and class B common stock will receive 5.15 shares of Blockbuster stock for each share of Viacom stock tendered. The exchange will be tax-free to shareholders. The opportunity to exchange the Viacom shares expires Oct. 5.