News Articles

Fast Track

3/06/2005 07:00:00 PM Eastern
Items:

Martha Stewart Gets 3 Emmy Nods, Lucci None

Bye, Bye Blue

Powell, Stern On Same Page

Big Apple Boost

More on Martha

FCC Asks High Court To Ignore Activists

'CSI’ Target of Non-Complaint

TNT, TBS Unveil New Shows

Clarification

Dolan Family Feud

'Nip/Tuck’ OK With FCC

Martha Stewart Gets 3 Emmy Nods, Lucci None

ABC’s All My Children leads the competition with 18 Daytime Emmy Award nominations. But for a change, Susan Lucci won’t get a chance to lose; she wasn’t nominated.

The most buzz came from the three Emmy nominations that went to Martha Stewart for her cancelled King World show, including awards for Best Service Show and Best Service Host. Released last Friday from prison, she’ll still be under house arrest when the Daytime Emmys are awarded in a CBS prime time special May 20 in New York. Conceivably, she could receive permission to attend. Next fall, she starts a new syndicated talk show for NBC Universal and her own spin at The Apprentice in prime time. Both Stewart shows will be produced by the reality guru Mark Burnett.

The View, on ABC, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show, last year’s winner syndicated by Warner Bros., both grabbed 11 nominations in talk-show categories. (After winning 35 Daytime Emmy awards, Oprah Winfrey removed herself from the competition years ago).

On the syndicated-reality front, Starting Overgot two nominations, the first for the Bunim-Murray/NBC Universal show, which will begin its third season in September. ABC’s General Hospital and CBS’ Guiding Light also got 13 Daytime Emmy nominations, and so did the PBS kids show Sesame Street and the recently controversial Postcards From Buster.

Lucci, who is one for 20 in the Daytime Emmy derby, has company at All My Children. No other AMC actress was nominated either.—P.J. Bednarski

Bye, Bye Blue

ABC’s NYPD Blue went out on top. After a dozen years, the critically acclaimed Stephen Bochco drama’s last episode won its time period with a 5.2/13 in the key 18-49 demo, beating usual winner Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Blue was the network’s highest-rated show of the night.

According to ABC, Blue helped the network to its biggest Tuesday-night non-sports audience since November 2003.—John Eggerton

Powell, Stern On Same Page

FCC Chairman Michael Powell told Fox News Channel Thursday that he thinks extending indecency regulation to cable, satellite and satellite radio, as Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) would like to do, is probably unconstitutional.

Powell said he believes that, when Congress takes a hard look, it will find that it is “difficult and unwise” to extend that regulation to cable and satellite. It will be a tough policy move, he said, without a new ruling by the Supreme Court, which has upheld different treatment for different media.

Distinguishing pay-media indecency regulation from broadcast, he pointed out that speech regulation must be “the least restrictive” and that cable and satellite have some blocking technologies that enhance consumer control. He also pointed to the element of volition in choosing to pay and subscribe.

On the issue of not extending indecency regulation to satellite radio, Powell had to concede that, on this issue at least, he is in agreement with his frequent vociferous critic, Howard Stern.—John Eggerton

Big Apple Boost

Start spreadin’ the news: Ratings for some syndicated shows in the February sweeps came up huge—more than 30% boosts—in New York, according to the new local people meter (LPM) ratings system now in place there.

Although the vast majority of syndicated shows were flat or down, according to overnight Nielsen ratings from the nation’s top market (the first February New York numbers using LPMs), The Oprah Winfrey Show had the biggest jump, up 46% to an 8.9 rating/21 share on WABC at 4 p.m.

Rookie The Insider was up 38% to a 3.3/6 over Hollywood Squares’ performance last February in the same 7 p.m. time on WCBS. Insider delivered that audience and more to lead-out Entertainment Tonight, which was up 35% to a 4.2/7, its best February number in the Big Apple in six years.—John Eggerton

More on Martha

Martha Stewart’s new syndicated daily hour lifestyle/talker has been cleared in 85% of the country for fall, according to NBC Universal.

In addition to the already announced clearances on NBC-owned stations (almost 40% of the country), the show has been cleared on Hearst-Argyle, Gannett, Scripps Howard, Albritton, Post-Newsweek, Belo, Freedom, CBS, Young, Clear Channel, Meredith and Milwaukee Journal stations. Newest sign-ups include KPRC Houston, WOAI San Antonio and WMC Memphis, Tenn.

The show is now sold in all top 20 markets and 47 of the top 50.—John Eggerton

FCC Asks High Court To Ignore Activists

A variety of industry and activist groups have asked the Supreme Court to overrule a lower-court decision that would force the FCC to rewrite most of its broadcast-ownership rules. Last week, the FCC asked the high court to ignore them all.

Although the FCC has its own objections to the lower-court decision, commission lawyers told the justices that there is insufficient ground to pursue its own appeal and that separate appeals by various broadcast companies, minority advocates and activists opposing media consolidation seek to limit the agency’s flexibility in setting new rules.

The FCC’s rewrite was ordered by the federal appeals court in Philadelphia last June.

Industry lawyers argue that FCC limits on the number of media properties a company can own violate free-speech rights. Anti-consolidation activists argue that the FCC has pushed ownership deregulation too far.

Recognizing that the justices may take the case of its objections, the FCC asked the justices to consider its own disagreements with the lower-court ruling. For instance, the FCC dismissed its finding that faulty economic models were used to set limits on local crossownership of TV, radio and newspaper properties.

The commission also said the Philly court was wrong to minimize the impact of the Internet on media diversity and challenged the notion that its numerical limits on station ownership were arbitrary.—Bill McConnell

'CSI’ Target of Non-Complaint

Speakspeak.org—a Web site launched one month ago to fight back against the FCC’s indecency crackdown—has set up an online form on its opening page for surfers to submit a letter of “non-complaint” to the commission to counter a Parents Television Council’s complaint against CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

PTC took issue with a Feb. 17 episode of the drama in which an obese man with an infantilism fetish flings himself to his death wearing only a diaper.

Speakspeak.org, by contrast, has a form letter ready to e-mail to the FCC saying that the sender did not find the show offensive and that it was a work of fiction with artistic merit, “not pornography.”

“Our members feel that, while not every program is appropriate for every age group, neither is it appropriate for a small but active segment of the population to control the airwaves,” site founder Amanda Toering told B&C. “Because their mobilization has led to fear and self-censorship at the broadcast networks, the PTC has become the nation’s de facto censorship board.”—John Eggerton

TNT, TBS Unveil New Shows

Two Turner networks each unveiled a variety of shows for the summer and fall. Drama-focused TNT lured top talent to expand its thematic repertoire, developing six recurring dramas, plus Nightmares&Dreamscapes, a limited series based on Stephen King stories. Stories in development vary in subject from a hit man (Confessions) to advertising executives (Smoke & Mirrors). The network also shot a pilot for The Dark, an FBI drama from Stephen J. Cannell (The A-Team, Rockford Files).

TNT also announced that detective drama The Closer will air Mondays at 9 p.m. ET beginning June 13. Crime show Wanted, starring Gary Cole, will air Sundays at 10 p.m. beginning July 31. Into the West, Steven Spielberg’s six-week summer miniseries, launches June 10 at 8 p.m. with new episodes bowing Fridays at 8 p.m. through July 22.

Sister channel TBS will branch into character-driven comedies and reality competition with upcoming shows. TBS greenlighted Nash Entertainment’s reality competition Loser Leaves Town, in which warring neighbors duke it out in a series of competitions, with the loser forced to move. It has ordered nine episodes of Coquette’s mockumentary Daisy Does America, in which UK-based actress-comedian Daisy Donovan travels the country as a high-society Brit trying to become an all-American girl. TBS is considering projects from Whoopi Goldberg and Cedric the Entertainer. Reality show The Real Gilligan’s Island will premiere for a second season June 8 at 9 p.m.—A.B.

Clarification

The Sony HD XDCAM to be unveiled at NAB (Technology, 2/28, page 20) will be a demo model. Sony has yet to determine how many models will be released and at what price points when the products go on the market in 2006. Estimates of a price point for a mid-price, $17,000-$20,000 model were based on industry sources, not Sony. Alec Shapiro’s title is SVP, marketing, Broadcast & Production Systems Division of Sony Electronics.

Dolan Family Feud

The war between the Dolans grew nastier as Cablevision Chairman Chuck Dolan ousted three directors who opposed his plan to keep DBS service Voom alive. CEO Jim Dolan has pushed to shut down Voom before it cost the company the $1 billion-plus it would require in funding to give it a chance at success.

Chuck Dolan used his voting power to oust three directors, including longtime Cablevision executives Shelia Mahoney and William Bell. Dolan associates say he’s hurt that those executives, who have been close advisors, voted against the continuation of Voom. He’s also ousting investment banker Steve Rattner of Quadrangle Partners. A fourth slot is open after the recent death of former Cablevision executive John Tatta. Replacing them are Liberty Media Chairman John Malone, former Viacom President Frank Biondi, former Century Communications CEO Leonard Tow. Cablevision’s board has a total of 15 members, including Chuck, Jim and two other Dolan family members.

Now the troubled service has a temporary reprieve. The company says it will delay shutting down Voom to give the elder Dolan a chance to buy it. Cablevision initially announced Voom would shut down, in part because the service has burned through more than $650 million so far. Cablevision’s board cut a deal to sell its core satellite assets to EchoStar in January. The structure of a new Voom remains unclear.

—John M. Higgins

'Nip/Tuck’ OK With FCC

FX program Nip/Tuck won’t be getting into trouble with the FCC. The agency Friday dismissed numerous complaints over the racy dark comedy about plastic surgeons and their patients. A variety of complainants had insisted that FX be fined on grounds that the show is indecent and/or obscene. It’s a frequent target of criticism by the Parent Television Council, although none of the complaints this time were generated by the group. The gist of the complaints focused on characters’ engaging in simulated sexual intercourse, including oral and anal sex. Some also demanded FCC sanction for graphic depictions of liposuction, rhinoplasty and other surgical procedures. The FCC said it has no authority to find Nip/Tuck indecent because longstanding court rulings give cable networks greater First Amendment protections than broadcasters. The FCC also ruled that the scenes in question don’t meet the Supreme Court test for determining whether content is obscene.—Bill McConnell

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