News Briefs: Networks, Affils to Appeal Indecency Rulings

Apr 17, 2006  •  Post A Comment

In the first of what promises to be a long series of related challenges, the Big 4 TV networks, their affiliates and Hearst Argyle Television announced Friday that they have asked federal appeals courts to overturn key aspects of the Federal Communications Commission’s March 15 indecency rulings. The networks said the rulings would have a particularly negative impact on live news programming and other important aspects of the television business. The agency rulings at issue held that fleeting utterances of profanities on CBS’s “Early Show,” Fox’s coverage of the Billboard Music Awards and an episode of ABC’s “NYPD Blue” were in violation of agency indecency prohibitions-even though no agency fines were handed down for the programming. In a joint statement, the broadcasters, representing more than 800 TV stations, said: “We strongly believe that the FCC rulings issued on March 15 that we are appealing today are unconstitutional and inconsistent with two decades of previous FCC decisions.”

Freston, Moonves Earn More in 2005

Viacom CEO Tom Freston earned a total of $22.7 million in 2005, compared with $20.4 million in 2004, fueled by a higher base salary and restricted stock awards, which more than offset a decline in his annual bonus, according to a filing submitted Friday to the Securities and Exchange Commission. And while CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves saw his base salary and annual bonus drop a bit in 2005, the restricted stock awards boosted his total 2005 pay to $22.8 million, compared with just over $20 million in 2004. Both executives’ total remuneration for 2005 represents what they earned before Viacom was split into two separate companies last year. Mr. Freston received a base salary of $5.3 million last year, compared with a base of $4.2 million a year earlier. His 2005 bonus was $13 million, versus $16 million in 2004. Moonves’ 2005 base pay was more than $5.3 million, compared with nearly $5.8 million a year earlier. His bonus slipped to $13 million from a year-earlier figure of $14 million.

Spots Pricey in ‘Idol’s’ Season Finale

The current issue of Advertising Age ends the “Idol” speculation: It’ll take $1.3 million to buy a spot on the hottest TV show finale this season. “American Idol” will be the most expensive and sought-after season-ender and could even top the 29.4 million viewers glued to the tube to see last season’s big finish. Among other major network shows primed to rake in some big bucks from season sendoffs: ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Lost,” in addition to the final curtain call for NBC’s much-loved “Will & Grace” and long-running “The West Wing.”

NBC Sets Dates for Summer Alternative Schedule

NBC announced premiere dates for its summer 2006 alternative programming, including new original series, with its new adventure reality series “Treasure Hunters” premiering Sunday, June 18. The competition show “America’s Got Talent” is slated to premiere Wednesday, June 21. In addition, NBC will premiere the latest installment of its stand-up comedy competition series “Last Comic Standing” on Tuesday, May 30. As previously announced, the scripted drama series “Windfall” will premiere Thursday, June 8.

The CW Signs Affiliates in 13 More Markets

The CW has signed 13 more long-term affiliation agreements, raising the network’s clearances to stations reaching more than 79 percent of the country. The new affiliates include Griffin Communications’ WB-affiliated KWBT-TV in Tulsa, Okla. (the 61st-largest market in the country); Belo’s WB affiliate KSKN-TV in Spokane, Wash. (market No. 78); Raycom Media’s UPN-affiliated WQWQ-TV in Paducah, Ky.-Cape Girardeau, Mo.-Harrisburg-Mount Vernon, Ill. (No. 80); KM Communications’ WB affiliate KWKB-TV in Cedar Rapids-Waterloo-Iowa City-Dubuque, Iowa (88); Sagamore Hill Broadcasting-owned UPN affiliate WWMB-TV in Myrtle Beach-Florence, S.C., operated under a local marketing agreement by Barrington Broadcasting (107); and Wyomedia Corp.’s KWYF-LP in Casper-Riverton, Wyo. (198). The new affils also include several to be created from the digital spectrum of NBC affiliates in Fort Wayne, Ind. (106); Topeka, Kan. (136); Harrisonburg, Va. (181); and Charlottesville, Va. (186); and of CBS affiliates in Duluth-Superior, Minn. (137); Wichita Falls, Texas-Lawton, Okla. (144); and Eureka, Calif. (194).