News Briefs: McDowell Nomination Approved by Senate Panel

Mar 20, 2006  •  Post A Comment

The Senate Commerce Committee last Thursday voted to approve the nomination of Robert McDowell to a Republican seat at the Federal Communications Commission. If Mr. McDowell is confirmed by the full Senate as the FCC’s fifth commissioner, he will give Chairman Kevin Martin a Republican majority at the agency. Mr. McDowell is senior VP and assistant general counsel for the trade group CompTel in Washington.

ABC Expected to Be First Out of Upfront Gate

ABC, thanks to the strength of its ratings this season, is expected to be first out of the gate in this year’s upfront race and with its stellar lineup should be able to command the most aggressive price increases, the current issue of Advertising Age reports. But The Walt Disney Co. network will still be shooting at what is likely to be a smaller pool of TV dollars. “I would love to think that last year was a key indicator all the stars are aligned,” said Page Thompson, CEO of OMD North America. “Is it this year or next year that money is going to leave broadcast and go elsewhere? I see it going into the digital world, broadband and video streaming on the Web.” Most, like Mr. Thompson, expect this year’s upfront to be a rerun of last year, with ABC determining the market and NBC being forced to write flat to negative cost-per-thousand rates.

Outdoor Battles for Time Warner Berth

The Outdoor Channel escalated its fight with Time Warner Cable, with g a $200,000 advertising campaign to push the cable provider to keep the network in its lineup expected to launch last weekend. Radio spots and full-page ads in local newspapers in Ohio, Nebraska, New York and Texas refer people to a Web site (iwantmyoutdoorchannel.com) that provides information on how customers can lobby their local Time Warner office. “We’re not out to harm [Time Warner Cable]; we are out to help them because we feel [dropping the channel] is not going to be good for them,” said Outdoor Channel CEO Andrew Dale. “It’s crazy to do this in a competitive market.” A Time Warner Cable spokeswoman declined to comment.

ABC, SoapNet Plan Broadband Service

ABC Daytime and SoapNet are planning to jointly launch in April a broadband service offering exclusive content about daytime dramas. The service will be available only to subscribers of broadband carriers that make deals with the Disney Co. units. The first carrier to sign up for the services was Verizon DSL.

New Site Matches Producers, Products

MediaMatchmaker.com, an online service that helps marketers looking to make product-placement deals find producers open to featuring those products, has put its first deal in the bank. QuikDrop International, a chain of stores, tied the knot with StarGames, producer of “Countdown to Draft Day,” a syndicated show cleared to air in April in 85 percent of the country. In addition to spots and billboards, QuikDrop will be featured on the set of the show, which will include a “Quik Drop Quarterback Report.” QuikDrop will also have banner ads and streaming video commercials on StarGames’ Web site. Corey Weiss, VP of integrated marketing at QuikDrop’s agency, Palisades Media Group, sounds like a satisfied customer. While million-dollar integrations like Coca-Cola’s on “America Idol” attract the most attention, Media Matchmaker “allows companies that don’t’ have those kinds of budgets allocated for integration identify practical opportunities like this one,” he said. Media Matchmaker CEO Betsy Green said the month-old site currently lists 200 integration opportunities from about 45 producers and that about a dozen agencies have signed up for the service.

Warner Names Digital Distribution Head

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group has named Simon Kenny president of the newly formed Warner Bros. Digital Distribution unit. Mr. Kenny will manage electronic distribution streams of Warner Bros. studio product over existing, new and emerging digital platforms, including electronic sell-through, pay-per-view, video-on-demand and wireless. He previously served as executive VP of Warner Bros. International Television Distribution’s European operation, working out of the company’s London office. He will relocate to Burbank, Calif. No replacement for Mr. Kenny has been named.