News Articles

The week that was

9/08/2002 08:00:00 PM Eastern

SPECTRUM ... AUCTION ... MOVES ... AHEAD

Through 27 rounds of bidding for two blocks of 700 MHz spectrum that began Aug. 27, broadcasters LIN Television, Banks Broadcasting
and Capitol Broadcasting
were still in the thick of things, securing 38 high bids. The leading high bidder, Aloha Partners,
with 79, counts Continental Cablevision
founder Amos Hostetter
among investors. Total offers stood at $102 million for 466 licenses. No bids had been received for another 274 licenses. The auction ... continues.

THE LOCAL NEWS

Gray Television
has agreed to purchase KOLO-TV
Reno, Nev., from Smith TV
for $41.5 million cash. Gray is also currently acquiring 15 former Benedek
stations for $502 million. Gray will own 29 stations in 25 markets and reach more than 5% of U.S. households. …

Craig Robinson
was named president and general manager of WCMH-TV, NBC's
O&O in Columbus, Ohio. Robinson was most recently vice president of sales for WRC-TV, the NBC station in Washington. He replaces Michael Jack, who is WRC-TV's new GM.

9/11, late night

Jon Stewart
is the only late-night comedy guy who won't be doing a show on 9/11 this year. Although Comedy Central
decided to air a totally normal schedule of comedy shows and movies on that day, Stewart felt that The Daily Show's
normal riffing off the day's events couldn't work. The show will telecast a non-news rerun, instead.

Meanwhile, after some indecision, The Late Show With David Letterman
is definitively going on the air with a new show, but the guest hasn't been finalized (Rudy Giuliani, perhaps?).

The Tonight Show Starring Jay Leno
will go with Sen. John McCain
and actor James Woods
(who realized after 9/11 that he had earlier been on a "test run" flight with some of the hijackers), but Leno hasn't said how he'll handle the monologue.

As of Friday, Conan O'Brien
hadn't booked an opening guest but had author Sarah Vowell
and singer Joan Osborne
slated for the secondary slots.

THE SYNDIE SCORECARD

The week ended Aug. 25 featured a late-summer heat wave, which drove more viewers indoors to their TVs, if syndicated viewing performances are any measure.

All of the top six weekly hours were up or even with the week before, according to Nielsen numbers. The weekend version of Entertainment Tonight
was No. 1 (for the 37th week in a row), up 7% to a 3.0. The X-Files
was up 9% to a 2.5; Mutant X
was up 26% to a 2.4, tied with The Practice, which was up 9%.

Five of the top six off-net sitcoms were up or even for the week as well. Leading the way was Friends, up 10% to a 6.6 and claiming the No. 2 spot in syndication behind Wheel of Fortune.

In court action, five of the top six held even or improved. Judge Judy
led with a 5.0, unchanged from the week before; Judge Joe Brown
was up 3% to a 3.4.

CABLE READY

TNT
is folding original sci-fi cop drama Witchblade
after two seasons. The Turner
net declined an option for a third season on the Warner Bros.-produced show. In May, production had to be halted while series star Yancy Butler
was treated for an alcohol-related problem. …

No matter where Law & Order
airs on cable, the crime drama is a potent Nielsen weapon. A&E, the show's former cable home, and TNT,
its new locale, demonstrated that power last week when seven Law & Order
plays—three on A&E, four on its new home on TNT—scored ratings above a 2.6. …

The Video Music Awards
propelled MTV's prime time average to a 1.9 last week. The awards show grabbed an awesome 8.3 rating, while MTV's post-award show turned in a 5.1. Lifetime
was still the highest-rated cable net last week with a 2.2 average. …

USA Network, which swapped ratings-grabbers Monk
and Dead Zone
last week for the U.S. Open, fell to a 1.1 prime time average. USA's prime time coverage of the tennis tournament is down 23% from last year. USA blames rain delays.

ELIMINATE THE MESSAGE

Despite public outcries from women's groups over the Augusta National Golf Club's exclusion of women, The Masters Golf Tournament
at Augusta will still air on USA Network
and CBS
this spring. USA,
the cable home for the first and second rounds, is still "planning to carry the Masters as we've always done it," a spokesperson said.

And like CBS, which carries the final rounds, USA is planning to air the event commercial-free. Rather than bow to pressure to admit women, Augusta released its three major corporate sponsors, Citigroup, Coke
and IBM
, from their advertising commitments and, by extension, from the pressure the women's groups were putting on them over their ads. CBS has aired the Masters since the 1950s.

September
October