News Briefs: MediaCom Poised to Drop 22 Sinclair Stations

Jan 8, 2007  •  Post A Comment

A potentially precedent-setting battle between MediaCom Communications and Sinclair Broadcast Group over broadcast TV retransmission rights payments escalated Friday when MediaCom said it would drop 22 Sinclair stations from its cable systems in 12 states at midnight that night. MediaCom Chairman and CEO Rocco B. Commisso said he is being forced to drop the stations after failing to reach agreement on a new carriage contract, a move that will deny 500,000 MediaCom households cable access to some major network stations. MediaCom, the country’s No. 8 multiple system operator, provides service in smaller cities. MediaCom and Sinclair have been fighting over retransmission since September. -Ira Teinowitz

Stations Scramble to Fill `Geraldo’ Slots

The news last week that Twentieth Television had canceled “Geraldo at Large” after little more than a year on the air is leaving stations scrambling for content to fill the void. “Geraldo,” which was produced by the Fox News division and averaged a 1.6 Nielsen Media Research rating this season, carried a production budget estimated to be close to $1 million per week. Host Geraldo Rivera and a staff of reporters and production crew are expected to be absorbed back into Fox News, with Mr. Rivera resuming his duties on Fox News Channel for “At Large With Geraldo Rivera” on Saturday and Sunday evenings. Many stations are expected to air additional runs of off-network programming in the vacated timeslots. The cancellation could make way for Warner Bros.’ upcoming newsmagazine based on Web site TMZ.com, a source said last week. -Chris Pursell

Fox Cancels `The O.C.’

Fox has canceled its teen soap drama “The O.C.” The show’s last episode will air Feb. 22, finishing out its fourth season, the network announced last Wednesday. “What better time to go out than creatively on top,” said Josh Schwartz, the show’s creator and executive producer. “For a certain audience, at a certain time, `The O.C.’ has meant something. For that we are grateful.” “The O.C.” has fallen in the ratings every year it has been on the air. The first season in 2003 averaged a 4.2 rating among adults 18 to 49, according to Nielsen Media Research. The second averaged 3.3; the third 2.7. This season, “The O.C.” faced increased competition on Thursday nights from ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” CBS’s “CSI” and NBC’s comedy block. Since the move, the show has dived to a 1.8 average rating. The show is produced by Wonderland Sound and Vision and College Hill Pictures in association with Warner Bros. Television Production. -James Hibberd

Koerner to Leave Advertising Business

Stacey Lynn Koerner, one of the best-known commentators on television and advertising, is leaving the agency business. Ms. Koerner, president of Interpublic Group’s Consumer Experience Practice, said Interpublic is closing the unit for economic reasons. She said she was given the opportunity to stay with the company but opted to leave. An Interpublic spokesman had no comment. Ms. Koerner said she’s likely to write books. -Jon Lafayette

MGM to Syndicate `Chappelle,’ `Reno 911!’

MGM will distribute Comedy Central series “Chappelle’s Show” and “Reno 911!” in syndication this fall. “Chappelle’s Show” will be offered as a weekend series for stations, while MGM will distribute “Reno 911!” for Monday-through-Friday runs, said Jim Packer, president of worldwide television distribution at MGM. The Comedy Central deals mark the first programs MGM will syndicate under its new strategic relationship with the New Line studio, which owns syndication rights to the shows. Sales of “Chappelle’s Show” and “Reno 911!” will be overseen by Mr. Packer and John Bryan, executive VP of broadcast strategy at the company. MGM will handle all station and national ad sales for the pair of shows.

-Chris Pursell

New York Times Sells TV Stations

The New York Times Co. agreed to sell its Broadcast Media Group to Oak Hill Capital Partners for $575 million. The transaction, announced late Thursday afternoon, is expected to close in the first half of the year. It consists of nine network-affiliated television stations, their Web sites and the group’s digital operating center. Oak Hill Capital Partners is a private equity firm with more than $4.6 billion of committed capital from entrepreneurs, endowments, foundations, corporations, pension funds and global financial institutions. Robert M. Bass, a philanthropist, businessman and scion of the Texas oil Bass family, is its lead investor. -Michele Greppi