Des Moines, Iowa—Meredith Corp. canned its broadcast group President Kevin O'Brien for unspecified violations of company Equal Employment Opportunity policies. Meredith would not elaborate but said the dismissal "did not involve financial matters." Company President/ COO Stephen Lacy will oversee the broadcast group until O'Brien's replacement is found. Meredith owns 13 stations. In his three-year tenure, O'Brien dismissed several general managers and news directors, including seven GMs in his first year. Before taking over the Meredith group, he ran Cox Television's KTVU(TV) Oakland, Calif.
New York—CBS' forceful Thursday-night lineup powered the broadcaster to a Thursday-night win in the key demos and total viewers. Survivor
started things off, with a 7.2 rating/20 share in 18-49s and 18.9 million viewers, easily winning the 8 p.m. hour, according to preliminary Nielsen data. Repeats of NBC's comedy duo of Joey
and Will & Grace
delivered a combined 4.1/12 and 10 million viewers for the hour. Survivor
clobbered the 9 p.m. competition, grabbing a 10.0/25 in 18-49s and 28.9 million viewers, handily beating The Apprentice
on NBC, which tallied a 7.7/19 in 18-49s and 15.5 million viewers.
For the night, CBS posted an average 8.3/22 in 18-49s and 23.3 million viewers. NBC was second with a 5.9/16 in the demo and 12.8 million viewers. ABC was a distant third with a 1.9/5 and 5.7 million viewers. UPN's WWE Smackdown
telecast delivered a 1.7/4 and 4.8 million viewers, besting baseball-less Fox, which had a 1.5/4 and 3.5 million viewers. The WB was last with a 1.1/3 and 2.3 million viewers.
Visalia, Calif.—At press time, Pappas Telecasting was under fire for its in-kind contribution of airtime on its TV and radio stations to state and local candidates. The group offered $325,000 worth to Republicans and $125,000 to Democrats. The move drew complaints from local and national legislators after opposing candidates asked for equal free time and were told they qualified only for the same amount of time at the lowest unit rate.
Chairman/CEO Harry Pappas says, "The central truth is that Pappas Telecasting is exercising its free-speech rights and our right to make contributions." House Commerce Committee ranking member John Dingell (D-Mich.) asked the FCC to investigate and get back to him by Nov. 1.