Breaking . . .


ABC Family, Nick Fined by FCC

Washington—Nickelodeon and ABC Family last week agreed to pay $1 million and $500,000, respectively, for carrying too many commercials during kids' programming. This is the first time any cable network has been punished for such violations, which were discovered during FCC field audits of TV stations and cable systems during 2003 and 2004. The FCC limits commercials during children's programming, as well as forbidding what it calls "program-length commercials" that feature characters otherwise associated with the program airing during a particular time slot.

Nickelodeon violated the ad minutes-per-hour limit 591 times and aired 145 program-length commercials—hawking a SpongeBob toy in one of the five daily airings of that show, for instance. ABC Family aired 31 program-length commercials. Both companies blamed the overages on flawed internal procedures, computer problems and human error.

Fox Scores with Cards on Thursday

New York—Fox scored another good night with post-season baseball last Thursday night. The deciding Game 7 in the National League Championship Series between the victorious St. Louis Cardinals and Houston Astros reeled in an average 19.8 million viewers and earned a 6.7 rating and 18 share in the 18-49 demo.

Once again, CBS won the night with Survivor
and CSI
in total viewers and the 18-49 demo, two categories NBC dominated for years on Thursdays. CBS snagged 21.5 million viewers compared with NBC's 14 million. In 18-49s, CBS scored a 7.6/19 to NBC's 6.7/17. Significant by its insignificance, ABC is posting very low Thursday numbers: Last week, it had a 1.6/4 in 18-49s and 4.7 million total viewers, just slightly better than UPN (1.6/4, 4.6 million viewers.) The WB limped in at 1.0/2 with 2.4 million total viewers.

Belo TV Posts Solid Quarter

Dallas—Blessed with the Olympics and political advertising, Belo Corp.'s TV operations generated a 7% increase in ad revenue during the third quarter. The company said revenue increased to $171.3 million, up from $160 million last year. The division's cash flow increased 9% to $72 million. The newspaper and TV company, however, charged $7.5 million against earnings because of the shutdown of a regional cable news venture with Time Warner Cable.