In the Loop
By Bill McConnell, John M. Higgins, Paige Albiniak, and John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 2/9/2003 7:00:00 PM
Viacom officials are energetically polishing their corporate image during the debate over ownership dereg. Alone among the broadcast nets, Viacom has agreed to participate in the first two informal hearings on the FCC's revision of ownership limits. Dennis Swanson, head of Viacom's TV station group, appeared at the Jan. 16 forum at Columbia University, as did WCBS-FM New York's Dan Ingram, CBS research guru David Poltrack, and CBS TV EVP Marty Franks. CBS network President Leslie Moonves and KCBS-TV/KCAL(TV) Los Angeles News Director Nancy Bauer-Gonzales are slated to appear at USC's Feb. 18 seminar.
The country's fourth-largest media group, Viacom often gets lumped in with radio behemoth Clear Channel as twin juggernauts endangering media diversity. Rankled Viacom execs counter that their radio holdings are one-quarter Clear Channel's and that Viacom's Infinity stations don't deny airplay to artists who shun events for Viacom's MTV and VH1. Washington sources also say the company has actively disavowed discrimination ascribed to Clear Channel, such as denying play to artists who don't sign with Clear Channel's SFX concert business.—B.M.
Some People Saw the Book, Too
Leo Hindery's writing hand got sore at the signing party for his new book, The Biggest Game of All, last Wednesday but not as sore as the necks of media execs straining for a look at ex-AOL Time Warner CEO Jerry Levin's new significant other. As the gossip columns have reported, Levin (right) is divorcing his wife of 32 years after meeting Laurie Perlman in Los Angeles. But few in New York have met her. Loop can report that Perlman is a 49-year-old psychologist and quite charming. Levin, as players at New York's Four Seasons restaurant noted, looks great: tanned, thinner and much more mellow—very much an L.A. guy, although we always thought of him as a Brentwood guy. Levin says he loves living in Marina del Rey, Calif. "We're one block from the beach. Very relaxing." Also coming out for YES Network CEO Hindery and his co-author, ex-Wall Street Journal reporter Leslie Cauley, were Forbes' Steve Forbes, Bresnan Broadband's Bill Bresnan and Journal editor Paul Steiger.—J.M.H.
Mug, Not a Plug
Having agreed to accept 30-second spots (OK, underwriter credits. see page 20), is PBS ready to catch the product-placement wave (think American Idol). "Absolutely not," said a PBS spokeswoman.
The question arose because, on Charlie Rose's PBS show last week, he could be seen drinking out of what looked to one viewer like a Coke can. Since Coke is an underwriter of the show, it prompted the question of whether that was some kind of product placement.
A show staffer says no. It was actually a mug, with the logos of both Coke and the show on it, several of which were generously supplied by Coke. Rose is said to have given instructions that the mug, from which he usually drinks coffee, should always have the Coke logo positioned away from the camera. If the logo was showing on camera, a source said, it was a mistake.—J.E.
Bonnot for President?
Madelyn Bonnot, formerly a VP at Emmis TV, has added her name to the list of TV execs angling to be the next president of the National Association of Television Programming Executives. Bonnot, onetime member of the NATPE board of governors, was also on the Fox board of governors and is a past president of American Women in Radio and Television.
Bonnot was VP of operationsat Emmis and VP and GM of Fox's WVUE-TV New Orleans, a city that has played host to many a NATPE convention.—P.A.
Newspaper Guild President Linda Foley said in December that "big media" had been purposely undercovering the FCC's ownership review. The guild is one of several unions pushing for greater input on the FCC's planned revision of the rules and for more coverage by news departments of the media conglomerates that will be affected. So how are they doing now? "I give them a D," said Foley last week. That's up from an F at least. With the recent addition of numerous new hearings, "they're being forced to cover it a little more," she said, noting that most of the coverage is by industry press (like this magazine). "But they are certainly not covering it as they should."—J.E.
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