Several syndicated talk shows continued to rise during the first full week of November sweeps. Leading the pack in gains was King World’s “Dr. Phil,” which had its best viewership in 18 months, according to Nielsen Media Research data for the week ended Nov. 12. “Dr. Phil” had a 5.9 household rating, which was up 11 percent week to week. “Dr. Phil” was the closest it’s been all season to genre leader King World’s “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” which was down 6 percent to a 7.2. In third place was Buena Vista’s “Live With Regis and Kelly,” unchanged at a 3.5. Among freshman shows King World’s “Rachael Ray” still led by a wide margin, up 5 percent to a 2.1. Warner Bros.’ “The Dr. Keith Ablow Show” was up 10 percent to a 1.1. Sony Pictures Television’s “The Greg Behrendt Show” was up 13 percent to a 0.9. NBC Universal Television’s “The Megan Mullally Show” was unchanged at a 0.8. Britney Spears’ divorce filing caused some of the magazine shows to spike, with CBS Paramount Domestic Television’s “Entertainment Tonight” garnering a 5.6, its highest rating in eight months and up 4 percent compared with the previous week. In second place was King World’s “Inside Edition,” up 6 percent to 3.6. CBS Paramount’s “The Insider” was up 4 percent to a 2.7. -James Hibberd
Comcast, Disney Reach Carriage Deal
Comcast and Walt Disney Co. completed their long-awaited deal that gives the nation’s biggest cable operator continued carriage of Disney cable networks including ESPN, ABC’s TV stations, full ownership of E! Networks and permission to runs some ABC shows on video on demand. Disney will get paid more than $1 billion a year in license fees under the agreement, an amount that represents about 25 percent of Comcast’s programming costs. Merrill Lynch analyst Jessica Reif Cohen estimates that over the course of the long-term deal, Comcast is paying average annual increases of less than the 7 percent Cox, Cablevision, Charter and others agreed to pay in 2004. That would make the deal “consistent with Comcast’s stated goal of limiting annual programming cost increases to mid-single digits,” she said. The deal increases carriage of Disney’s SoapNet and puts ESPN Deportes on Comcast’s Spanish language tier. Comcast paid $1.23 billion for Disney’s 39.5 percent stake in E! Entertainment Television and Style networks. “We view the purchase price for E! as fair,” said Spencer Wang, analyst at Bear Stearns. Before the deal was done, Mr. Wang estimated that E! and Style were worth $1 billion, meaning Disney realized $230 million added value by selling the networks.
Nets Ask That Indecency Rulings Be Overturned
A federal appellate court was asked last week to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s indecency rulings. Fox Television Stations, CBS Broadcasting and NBC Universal challenged part of an omnibus order that the FCC intended to resolve indecency complaints about more than 50 shows airing between February 2002 and March 2005. The FCC intended the omnibus order to indicate its future direction on indecency cases with part involving use of profanity. Fox, in a filing in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, argued Wednesday that the FCC’s profanity policy was unconstitutional, “arbitrary” and will punish broadcasters based on subjective views about the value of the speech. CBS in its filing argued that the FCC actions repudiate precedent and shatter assumptions on which courts relied in allowing the FCC to act on indecency. NBC Universal called the FCC’s profanity decisions “radical” and “a textbook example” of an “arbitrary and capricious” agency. FCC spokesman David Fiske said Wednesday, “By continuing to argue that it is OK to say the F-word and the S-word on television whenever it wants, Hollywood is demonstrating once again how out of touch it is with the American people. We believe there should be some limits on what can be shown on television when children are likely to be watching.”
More Political Ads Than Coverage in Midwest
Midwest TV stations devoted far more time to political ads than to political news coverage during their newscasts in the month before the November election, according to an analysis released Tuesday by the University of Wisconsin’s NewsLab and the Joyce Foundation. Updating an earlier report that tracked local political coverage on 28 ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC affiliates in seven markets in five states, NewsLab reported that during a typical 30-minute newscast, nearly 4.5 minutes of political ads aired, but only 1 minute, 43 seconds of election-related news coverage.