By Staff -- Broadcasting & Cable, 8/4/2002 8:00:00 PM
It's good that a rose is a rose
If a rose were called a "Thornflower" would you buy a dozen for your sweetie? That's analogous to what some cable execs think about the unsnappy "video on demand." Industry jargon often drifts into common usage, leaving marketers stuck with consumer-unfriendly terms like "DOCSIS cable modems" or the Big Mistake: "pay per view" (which emphasizes cost rather than choice or convenience). Cox COO Pat Esser fired a new shot during an earnings conference call last week, repeatedly referring to video on demand as "entertainment on demand," or EOD. Then there Discovery 's John Hendricks' "file-served television." Whew! Steve Brenner, CEO at movie clearinghouse In Demand, is pushing IControl, which some marketers are using and others hate. Jeff Calman, Warner Bros.' VP for pay TV, says: "We think it should be some variety of 'on demand.' That's what people know. Eventually it will be like DVD." The worst: The Brits' prefer to soundout VOD as a word rhyming with odd.—J.M.H.
NBC's Today Show producers couldn't find room for Gene Shalit's less-than-groovy review of Austin Powers in Goldmember until a week after its opening (which set a comedy box-office record, pulling in $76 million its first weekend). But the week leading up to the movie's release was a Today love-in that would have made James Bond blush, including an extended segment on Katie Couric's cameo in the film and three separate interviews with the film's stars on a special Austin Powers Today Show set. The logical capper would seem to be a review of the movie on opening day, but Shalit's review was nowhere to be seen. According to NBC, it was not discomfort with the tone of the piece but simply a lack of room: "The show was full," said an straight-faced insider. —K.K.
Point by point not taken
In defending Clear Channel's shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge from an FCC indecency inquiry, Wiley Rein & Fielding attorneys tried a novel approach. When the FCC asked the company to verify transcripts of 10 different Bubba segments aired over four Florida stations between July and December 2001, Wiley Rein lawyer John Burgett declined, instead asking the FCC to specify which portions of the transcripts were being questioned. If successful, the move would have allowed the lawyers to rebut each charge point by point. But the FCC investigations chief, Chuck Kelley, declined and, in late July, ordered Bubba to stick with standard procedures: Confirm or deny the broadcast, then refute specific sanctions on appeal. Burgett says Bubba's initial response will be submitted by today (Aug. 5).—B.M.
Acme plans a Buzz
Acme Communications, the station group controlled by Turner Broadcasting head Jamie Kellner, is going after news ad dollars with a 6-9 a.m. news show, The Daily Buzz, to be launched this fall at Acme's WBDT(TV) Dayton and fed to the rest of the Acme station group. With kidvid no longer viable in the time period (The WB dropped its own weekday-morning cartoon lineup a year ago), Acme sees a future in morning news. Buzz will have local news and weather inserts for stations carrying it in other markets; syndication is possible too. Acme President Doug Gealy says just a 1 rating with adults 18-49 would boost Acme's revenue in the time period five-fold. And what about launching from Dayton? Well, it worked for Donahue.—S.M.
ESPN's Unusual tribute to 9/11
ESPN will remember Sept. 11 with a documentary, Blood Brothers, about the New York Fire Department's football team, which lost 22 of its 58 members Sept. 11, and the struggles of its surviving members to deal with that loss. A subplot is the fierce rivalry between the FDNY squad and the New York Police Department's football team. ESPN will air the hour program Sept. 10 as part of its Tuesday-night original-programming block.—A.R.
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