News Briefs: NBC, ABC Bask in Globes

Jan 22, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Though NBC’s “Heroes” and “The Office” failed to win the top series honors at the Golden Globes last week, broadcasting the show gave the network a ratings victory. “The 64th Annual Golden Globe Awards” ranked as the top-rated Globes telecast in three years and as the top-rated program of the night, besting part two of Fox’s “24” premiere. The Globes earned a 6.5 rating among adults 18 to 49, according to preliminary Nielsen Media Research figures. That was enough to easily win the night for NBC Jan. 15. In the awards competition, ABC swept the best series categories, with breakout freshman comedy “Ugly Betty” and top-rated drama “Grey’s Anatomy” winning the highest Globe television honors. “Grey’s” took home the Globe for best drama series. “Betty” racked up two major Golden Globe Awards, earning honors for outstanding comedy television series and for best actress, which went to America Ferrera. With three awards, ABC tied HBO for the most Globes won by any network. -James Hibberd

Kucinich Draws Fire on Fairness Doctrine

Television broadcasters came out with their guns blazing after Rep. Dennis Kucinich said he plans to hold hearings on reviving the Fairness Doctrine, which obligated TV stations to air information on both sides of controversial issues. Rep. Kucinich, a Democratic presidential candidate and the newly installed chairman of the domestic policy panel of the House of Representatives’ Government Reform Committee, on Jan. 12 said the Fairness Doctrine is among the media issues he wants to examine in hearings. The comments spurred swift reaction from broadcasters, who consider the doctrine a relic from an earlier time when there were fewer ways for people to get information on issues of public debate. “We have gone without it for 20 years and there has been an explosion of coverage of issues from all angles,” said Dennis Wharton, executive VP of the National Association of Broadcasters. “The last thing this country needs is the government telling NPR or local broadcasters how to cover the news.” An aide to Rep. Kucinich last week declined to comment on his statements on the Fairness Doctrine, nor would she confirm whether the panel is planning for a hearing. -Ira Teinowitz

Chandler Family Makes Tribune Buyout Offer

The Chandler Trusts has made a $7.6 billion bid to buy Tribune Co. and spin off its broadcast and entertainment businesses. In a filing last Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the value of the Chandler deal was put at $31.70 per share, $19.30 in cash and the rest in shares of the newly formed Tribune Broadcasting. The Chandler family, former owners of the Tribune-owned Los Angeles Times, among other newspapers, owns 20 percent of Tribune’s stock. The Chandler proposal, which would expire Jan. 31, claimed debt financing commitments from Goldman Sachs Credit Partners L.P., Merrill Lynch Capital Corp. and Citicorp North America. The filing said Chandler Trusts would own 51 percent of Tribune after the deal closed, in perhaps six months, and the remaining 49 percent would be held by two private equity firms. Debt financing would be provided by Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Citicorp. There were published reports of as many as three other bidders.

-Michele Greppi

Cablevision Board Rejects Dolan Bid

A special committee of Cablevision Systems Corp.’s board of directors rejected a $30-a-share offer by the company’s founding Dolan family to take the cable operator private. The offer was described as “inadequate” in a letter to Charles F. Dolan, chairman and founder of Cablevision, and CEO James L. Dolan by the members of the special committee last Tuesday. A spokesman for the Dolans, who own a controlling stake in the company, said the family had no comment. The committee said the review process was drawn out because information it needed to evaluate the offer was not provided by the company until late November. The committee also said it had indicated several times to the Dolans that the offer was inadequate. The Dolans originally offered $27 a share in October for the stock in the company they didn’t already own. The family raised the offer to $30 last week and said it was their “best and final” offer.

– Jon Lafayette

Martin Wants FCC to Review Cable Ownership

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin J. Martin is suggesting his agency needs to finish its long-delayed review of cable ownership limits or add cable ownership questions to the ongoing examination of other media ownership rules. Speaking to reporters after an FCC meeting last Wednesday, Mr. Martin did not take a strong position on either choice, but made clear that he believes the FCC needs to do something to address the cable ownership rules examination that has been on hold since 2002. -Ira Teinowitz