By BroadCasting & Cable Staff -- Broadcasting & Cable, 3/13/2005 7:00:00 PM
Pols Take Porn Money
An activist group is labeling 15 members of Congress as hypocrites for waging public campaigns against pornography while taking campaign contributions from cable companies, hotel chains and phone companies that profit from X-rated entertainment.
“These members allege support for legislation penalizing obscenity one moment and fill their campaign coffers with pornography profits the next,” says a report issued by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. CREW says the lawmakers took in $433 million in contributions from companies like Comcast, Time Warner, Marriott and AT&T during the 2002 and 2004 campaign cycles. The companies profit enormously from adult movies on pay TV, in-room movies and phone sex (see page 12).
According to CREW, the top recipient of “porn profits” is House Telecom Chairman Fred Upton, whose campaign received $56,000 from companies that earn some portion of their revenue from adult entertainment. Others include Sens. John McCain ($46,000), Sam Brownback ($17,000), and Joe Lieberman ($16,000). Brownback will preside over a Judiciary Committee hearing on prosecuting obscenity Wednesday.
Upton declined to comment. A press aide for Lieberman says the donations come from “huge, diversified companies” with many products, most of them good. When it's time for vote on porn, Lieberman will back legislation increasing penalties or outlawing obscenity, she said.
New Front Moves In at Weather
The Weather Channel unveiled a new logo and marketing campaign, “Bringing Weather to Life,” aimed at what President Patrick Scott calls “vitalists,” defined as a cross between viewers who are actively interested in weather and “planners” who use the channel to schedule their lives. The spots focus on families flying kites or business “drones” suddenly having snowball fights. The new campaign is part of a long-running effort to reduce the network's reliance on what executives call “commodity” viewers, who just stop in to quickly check a forecast for a few minutes, then click off. That means the networks needs more shows that were once the province of Discovery Channel, like Weather's Storm Chasers.
New programming includes a magazine show, Weekend View, airing Saturdays and Sundays at 7-11 a.m. ET.
Scripps Sets New Sales Strategy
Scripps Networks will sell all of its cable networks together as it enters this year's upfront advertising market. In the past, the programmer's sales operation pitched its networks in pairs. HGTV and DIY sold together, and Food Network was tied with Fine Living.
But at Scripps' upfront advertising presentation, EVP of Ad Sales Steven Gigliotti noted increasing crossover among HGTV's home-makeover advertisers and Food Net's cooking clients. “It made sense to sell across all of them, he said. The move also lets Scripps push opportunities on Scripps home shopping network, Shop-At-Home.
Rather Exits With “Courage”
An obviously emotional Dan Rather signed off from the CBS Evening News With Dan Rather on March 9, 24 years to the day after he began. He resurrected his one-time trademark sign-off, “Courage,” but expanded it to address military men in harm's way, a nation “still nursing a broken heart” after 9/11, the tsunami victims, those in “financial hardship or failing health,” and his fellow journalists reporting from places where “reporting truth means risking all.”
CBS News staffers applauded Rather as they gathered around him after he signed off. The after-the-show toasts, we're told, numbered more than 50 and lasted a couple hours.
According to early returns from 56 Nielsen metered markets, the newscast, usually third among network newscasts, won the night with a 7.3 rating/13 share. Coming in second was NBC Nightly News, with a 6.5/12, followed by ABC's World News Tonight with a 6.4/12.
FCC Salutes Powell
FCC Chairman Michael Powell delivered an emotional farewell as he presided over his last monthly commission meeting March 10. “There is nothing cooler than sitting here thinking you are working solely on the behalf of the American people,” he said from the dais of the FCC meeting room. He hasn't announced his official last day but could step down as soon as Friday, March 18.
Commissioner Michael Copps, who orchestrated a campaign against Powell's plan to deregulate broadcast-ownership rules praised the chairman as a “warm, engaging and bright human being.”
Republican Commissioner Kevin Martin is widely regarded as Powell's successor, but a dark-horse rival is Michael Gallagher, head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an arm of the White House that advises the administration on telecom policy.
Stern Out at DirecTV
Mitch Stern is out as president/CEO of DirecTV Inc. after a little over one year in the post. His departure was called a mutual decision between Chase Carey, president/CEO of the DirecTV Group, and Stern, who added 1.1 million subscribers in 2004. Those subs came at a cost, though, because DirecTV invested heavily in advertising, commission and subsidies, hurting cash flow, and Carey told investors two months ago the DBS leader had to improve margins. Carey will take over day-to-day operations.
Cable Execs Back New Cable Net
A new hybrid infomercial network is starting up with investments from group of senior cable executives, including former Time Warner CEO Nick Nicholas, ex-Court TV President Dick Beahrs and ex-HBO exec Thayer Bigelow. Avoiding the direct-sell of infomercials and home shopping, the core programming of Expo TV will be the kind of broad product information that viewers use Consumer Reports and the Web for. But commercials will be longer-form, running 2-5 minutes instead of just 30 seconds.
Clinton Revives 'Media Health' Bill
In the wake of a new Kaiser Family Foundation study showing that kids are increasing their media usage and multitasking those media at the same time, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is reintroducing a bill to create a government-administered media-research program under the National Institutes of Health.
The program would study the links between media and child development and between media consumption and childhood obesity, a growing national health risk.
The Kaiser study found that, since 1999, children's and teens' exposure to media has gone up by more than an hour, from 7:29 per day to 8:33, most of the increase coming from videogames or recreational computer time.
But since much of that has become multi-layered usage—surfing the Web while watching TV, for example—the total number of hours of media usage has stayed virtually the same (6:19 in 1999 vs. 6:21 in the newest study).
NBC Pulls 'Pauley'
NBC Universal Television finally yanked the plug on long-suffering talker The Jane Pauley Show. Production will continue, with the syndicator promising to keep stations stoked with new episodes through May sweeps. The show was a bust from the beginning. The former Today show host had garnered rocky ratings since her debut last August, and stations started moving it out of prime slots almost immediately. NBC Universal has been openly talking about pulling the plug since January.
“We started out with an enormous vote of confidence from our stations and have seen our audience grow steadily from November until now,” Pauley says in a statement, “but it came too late for too many to stick with us.”
Tough Talk on First Amendment
The White House, the courts and the FCC all took hits from broadcast journalists who said last week that they were feeling under fire from a manipulative and even malicious government.
NBC News President Neal Shapiro set the tone, telling a roomful of top journalists gathered for the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation awards dinner in Washington that the press is under attack as never before from the Executive and Judicial Branches, which he says are pursuing journalists with “actual malice” just for doing their jobs.
It's time to “sound the alarm,” he said. That call was picked up by other speakers and punctuated with applause from the crowd.
Shapiro cited “a handful of scandals” that have tarred the broadcast industry and a post-9/11 climate that contributed to the crackdown. He advised journalists to do a better job of showing themselves as reporters, rather than entertainers.
ABC's Sam Donaldson, master of ceremonies, said he had never seen such “vitriolic animus” toward journalists, save for the waning days of the Nixon administration.
Veteran CBS newsman Ed Bradley took up the charge in his acceptance speech for the Leonard Zeidenberg First Amendment Award (named for the late B&C correspondent).
Bradley talked of the pressure by government and corporations to “control the message,” saying journalists must fight those efforts. “There is a price to pay,” he said, for representing the people.
Liberty station group President Jim Keelor, winner of the First Amendment Leadership Award, had a bone to pick with the FCC over its indecency rulings: “The FCC is getting more political every day.”
No related content found.
No Top Articles