News Briefs: FCC OKs Adelphia Sale

Jul 17, 2006  •  Post A Comment

The Federal Communications Commission last week approved Comcast’s and Time Warner’s $17.6 billion purchase of the assets of Adelphia Communications after imposing some of its broadest limits yet on cable companies signing exclusive deals with the regional sports networks. On a 4-1 vote, with only Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps voting no, the commission approved the deal that will lead to Adelphia, the country’s sixth-largest cable provider, merging with two larger competitors and further concentrating the cable industry. Adelphia has been in bankruptcy since 2002 after being rocked by a corporate scandal. Mr. Copps warned that the negative repercussions of the deal clearly overwhelm the benefits. “This decision is about big media getting bigger, with consumers left holding the bag. It comes with too heavy a price tag,” he said.


MyNetworkTV Coverage Hits 91%

MyNetworkTV has signed affiliation agreements with the CBS Television Stations group, Multimedia Holding Corp., Sinclair Broadcasting Group and Clear Channel Television that bring the network’s coverage to more than 91 percent of the country. The CBS stations are WBFS-TV in Miami; WTCN-CA, West Palm Beach, Fla.; and WUPL-TV, New Orleans. They’re joined by Multimedia’s KVD-TV, Denver; Sinclair’s WSYX-DT, Columbus, Ohio; and Clear Channel’s WHP-DT, Harrisburg, Pa.; and WAWS-DT/TV, Jacksonville, Fla.


CBS Switches Shows on Fall Monday Schedule

CBS is changing its previously announced Monday schedule for fall, switching time periods for the debuting comedy “The Class” with the returning sitcom “How I Met Your Mother.” “Class” will now lead off CBS’s Monday comedy block at 8 p.m. (ET), while “Mother” will return for its second season in its current Monday 8:30 p.m. time period.


Indecency Battle Heats Up

The fight between the Federal Communications Commission and broadcasters over indecency violations intensified last week. On Monday the FCC accused CBS of publicly revealing confidential discussions and breaking court rules. “CBS has committed a serious violation of this court’s rules regarding the confidentiality of pre-argument conferences,” the FCC said in its filing with the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, calling the disclosures “an apparent effort to gain a tactical advantage” and “particularly unfair, misleading and in several respects inaccurate.” CBS responded in a statement, saying that while it disagreed with the commission’s filing, the network would delete the references to which the agency objected. The skirmish came as the FCC is trying to persuade the appeals court to hand back to the agency part of a March 15 indecency ruling that set guidelines on use of the S-word and the F-word. The FCC also wants 60 days to reconsider some indecency actions it took in March against stations that didn’t lead to fines. Fox, NBC and CBS oppose the FCC’s reconsideration of those actions unless other indecency actions that led to fines are also put on hold while the FCC reconsiders. On Tuesday the FCC unleashed a barrage of new charges against not only CBS but Fox and NBC as well, accusing the three networks of essentially engaging in a sham argument that they would be hurt by the delay.


Magna Questions Nielsen Commercial Ratings

Media buying agency Magna Global said last Wednesday that the way Nielsen Media Research plans to measure audiences for television commercials is “not acceptable” as a currency for buying and selling advertising time. Steve Sternberg, executive VP for research at Magna Global, called several details of Nielsen’s plans “disturbing.” He said one problem with Nielsen’s commercial ratings is that they include spots viewed on digital video recorders up to seven days after a program airs, creating problems for advertisers whose messages are time-sensitive. Mr. Sternberg also questioned Nielsen’s plan to count as commercial minutes time slots that contain a majority of program time and just a few seconds of advertising.