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New ratings drive change with affiliates 3/09/2007 07:00:00 PM Eastern

MNT Cracks Down

News Corp.’s MyNetworkTV (MNT) plans to crack down on affiliates offering contractual “make goods” of its primetime fare between 3 and 6 a.m. because of heavy sports preemptions.

The move became necessary after MNT changed its Nielsen measurement to reflect a new daily schedule, according to industry sources. It rolls out a different programming schedule on Monday.

Having previously offered nightly telenovela-inspired drama strips, the early-morning MNT airings were considered to be less detrimental. The ratings laggards were included in the national Nielsen Syndication Services report, which is released on Thursdays and includes all network and syndicated strips.

But since last Wednesday, when MNT introduced specials, including one on Anna Nicole Smith that garnered its highest rating ever (1.5), it has been in the final daily Nielsen Television Index report with bigger networks. MNT will also make its debut in the weekly NTI rankings report on Tuesday.

But it chose not to be included in the fast nationals, since many stations with sports preemptions frequently carry its shows after 3 a.m. ET, at which time Nielsen processes the preliminary morning network ratings. It is feared the preemptions would lead to inaccurate fast-national ratings.

Comcast, Sinclair Agree On Retrans

Comcast Corp. and Sinclair Broadcast Group agreed on a four-year extension of their retransmission agreement on March 9 that will keep Sinclair’s stations on Comcast cable systems reaching about 3.8 million customers in 23 markets.

Sinclair was ready to cut off Comcast on March 1 but extended the deadline to March 10 as talks continued.

Comcast said it “has achieved its objective of not paying cash for broadcast carriage that would need to be passed on to our customers” but agreed on a package that gave “comparable value.”

But Sinclair’s VP and legal counsel Barry Faber said late Friday the Comcast statement was a “mischaracterization of the deal.” He added, referring to the quote above, the “significant part of that sentence” may be that Comcast did not pay a cash payment “that would need to be passed on to their consumers.” He strongly implied that Comcast had indeed paid. Retransmission cash “is our policy. We don’t do deals.”

A Comcast spokeswoman said, “Consistent with our existing agreements with Sinclair and all of our other retransmission-consent agreements, comparable value is being exchanged.”

She stressed that the Sinclair-Comcast deal represents no “sea change” in the way Comcast is dealing with other broadcasters seeking retrans deals.

Many in the industry were closely following the negotiation. Comcast, the nation’s largest cable system, with 24.2 million subs, says it won’t pay retrans to broadcasters.

Sinclair was recently successful in getting cash from Mediacom, a smaller operator, and has been vocal on the issue.—P.J. Bednarski

NBC, 'SI’ Team Up

NBC Sports and Sports Illustrated on Monday are expected to announce a new online-content partnership.

As part of the deal, Sports Illustrated’s Website will point viewers toward NBCSports.com broadband video segments in conjunction with breaking news, short-form programming, post-game interviews and weekend sports update segments.

NBC Sports will also produce broadband segments featuring Sports Illustrated writers, and it will drive viewers to SI.com for analysis and commentary from those writers.

The two sides are also looking at developing daily programming featuring talent from both outlets.—Ben Grossman

Correction

KUSA Denver averages 20 million-plus page views monthly. The number was incorrectly reported in “When It Snows, Weather Teams Shine” (2/19, p. 8).

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