News Briefs: Tobacco Companies Must Air ‘Corrective’ Spots

Aug 21, 2006  •  Post A Comment

A federal judge’s ruling last week that big tobacco companies engaged in racketeering by hiding the dangers of smoking will require four companies to each run one 15-second prime-time TV advertisement per week to educate the public. Philip Morris said it would appeal the ruling, in which U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler imposed the advertising requirements in lieu of financial penalties she said she didn’t have authority to impose. She prescribed “corrective statements” to run in the ads that would counter earlier messages from the four tobacco companies-Altria, Lorillard, Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co. and BATco. “Each defendant should cause at least one of the corrective statements approved to appear as an advertisement on one or more of the three major television networks, i.e., CBS, ABC or NBC,” Judge Kessler wrote in a Thursday ruling. Judge Kessler didn’t note in her opinion why Fox, The CW and cable networks were excluded from the list. The TV spots have to feature one of five corrective claims and must air at least 10 times during the year. -Ira Teinowitz

The CW: ‘Model’ Strike Won’t Delay Show

The CW sought to assure station owners Thursday that the “America’s Next Top Model” strike will not delay the series or impact the quality of the program. “Principal photography of this cycle has been completed,” CW Chief Operating Officer John D. Maatta wrote in a letter to 200 affiliates. “Episodes are being edited (by IATSE editors) as part of the post-production process; and the delivery of episodes is on schedule.” That message counters parts of a letter sent by Writers Guild of America Executive Director David Young to station owners July 26 in which he said, “most episodes remain unfinished. Many of the writers of ‘America’s Next Top Model’ have worked on the show for several seasons and are concerned for the quality of this season if the show is produced without them.” In essence, the characterizations by both sides are correct. The CW acknowledges that, while principal photography is completed, the post-production editing and story-shaping process directly impacted by the striking staffers is incomplete. Mr. Maatta promised that if the strike isn’t resolved by the onset of production for the next edition of the series, a contingency plan will be developed and “whatever steps necessary” will be taken to continue delivering episodes that maintain the show’s “high standards.” -James Hibberd

ExpoTV Gets VOD Carriage on Time Warner Cable

Expo Communications, which runs a video service that features product demonstrations, announced a distribution deal with Time Warner Cable to distribute ExpoTV via video-on-demand. Via the agreement, ExpoTV will have access to more than 20 million households. “With the support of Time Warner Cable … we are now able to offer the vast majority of the nation’s on-demand homes our unique consumer-friendly network,” Expo Communications CEO Daphne Kwon said in a statement. -Valerie Swayne

ABC Tweaks ‘Men in Trees’ Premiere

ABC is scheduling a special preview of its new Friday romantic drama “Men in Trees” on Tuesday, Sept. 12, to give the show a better lead-in. “Trees” will air at 10 p.m. (ET), right after the season premiere of ABC’s reality performer “Dancing With the Stars.” “Trees,” which stars Anne Heche as a Manhattan self-help author who flees to Alaska after she finds out her fianc%E9; is cheating on her, premieres in its regular 9 p.m. time slot Friday, Sept. 15. ABC initially scheduled the premiere of “Trees” for Sept. 22. -Christopher Lisotta

Guba.com Cuts Film Download Prices

Guba.com, a video Web site offering feature movies, television shows and viral videos, is cutting some prices on premiere film downloads to $9.99 from as much as $19.99. Guba.com, which owns proprietary software that lets viewers select, buy and watch films in its catalog with minimal delay, will allow consumers to rent movies for 99 cents. The company is among sites trying to attract users and distinguish itself in the Web video market as consumers spend more time seeking entertainment on the Internet and media companies search the industry for acquisitions. -Greg Baumann