New voluntary advertising guidelines released by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America could be a prescription for lower ad spending on TV by prescription drug makers. Ad spending in the $4 billion category has already been hit hard by the removal of Vioxx and Celebrex from the market. Now attempting to head off additional government regulation, the association’s new rules call for, among other things, eliminating 15-second reminder ads that carry little mention of possible side effects. Brands that have been successful with television advertising will either have to convert their 15-second spots, which are efficient for brand building, to more expensive 30-second spots, or look at other media, including print and online, according to Andrew Schirmer, managing director of health-care advertising agency McCann HumanCare. But he put the potential losses in perspective. “Successful brands won’t walk away from television,” Mr. Schirmer said.
It’s Official: Howard Stern Going VOD
Howard Stern has signed a three-year deal with iN Demand Networks to distribute the television version of his Sirius Satellite Radio program. Mr. Stern has been negotiating with several cable operators to take his show to a subscription video-on-demand format (TelevisionWeek, July 25). TV Barn was first to report the deal was complete. iN Demand said it will launch the show later this year. The deal also gives iN Demand rights to run televised versions of Mr. Stern’s remaining radio shows before the host switches to Sirius in January. “The Howard Stern Show” ended its run of original episodes on E! in June. iN Demand Networks is a content pay-per-view and VOD service jointly owned by Comcast, Cox, Time Warner and Advance/Newhouse.
Liberty Sticks With News Corp. Stake
Liberty Media Chairman John Malone said Friday that he did not expect to reach an agreement this year that would reduce Liberty’s stake in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., though he indicated that both sides continue to hold talks. Liberty and News Corp. for months have been holding talks about how News Corp. could get back a portion of Liberty’s stake in News Corp., which doubled late last year to 18 percent while News Corp. was reincorporating as a U.S. company. Not long after Liberty boosted its stake in News Corp., the Murdoch-controlled company adopted a strategy that would block Liberty or any other shareholder besides the Murdoch family from increasing its stake. Neither side was able to come up with a transaction that satisfies all involved. Mr. Malone said during a conference call to discuss Liberty’s second-quarter results that Liberty sees itself “as a long-term strategic shareholder of News Corp.” and added that the company has “the best set of assets in the media industry.”
King World Retains ‘Dr. Phil’ Through 2014
King World Productions has retained the rights to distribute the syndicated talk strip “Dr. Phil” for an additional five years, through the 2013-14 season, the company and “Dr. Phil” host Phillip McGraw announced last week. King World also has renewed the series on a number of Viacom-owned television stations through the 2010-11 season. “Dr. Phil” is produced by Paramount Domestic Television, distributed by King World Productions and created by Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions.
Bob Knight Signs Up for ESPN Series
ESPN has ordered a reality series starring famously temperamental basketball coach Bob Knight, the network announced last week. Mr. Knight will star in six, one-hour episodes of “Knight School,” slated to debut in February. The show will feature 16 unsigned Texas Tech students competing for a spot on the team. The show will be produced by ESPN Original Entertainment in conjunction with RIVR Media and WealthEffectMedia.
Reality Show Editors Join Guild
About 80 editors working on Mark Burnett reality shows have joined the Motion Picture Editors Guild, the union announced last week. The newly unionized employees include editors and their assistants working on “The Apprentice,” “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart” and “Rock Star: INXS.”