Karmazin: Upfront far from done

Viacom's cable networks (including MTV, Nickelodeon, CMT, TNN and BET) have completed only 20% to 25% of their upfront market business and continue to negotiate over pricing, says President and COO Mel Karmazin. And the company's syndication upfront sales effort "is going even slower than that."

Company revenues were up 1% on a pro forma basis in the second quarter, while pretax earnings (EBITDA) were up 12% and free cash flow was up 33%.

The company revised downward year-end profit guidance from a 20% EBITDA gain to 13%, which Karmazin said was pretty terrific given the state of the economy.

Fox renews Beach, will share Choice

FX has renewed its Howard Stern-produced sitcom Son of the Beach
for a third season and has closed its first-ever dual-purpose deal with the co-owned Fox network.

As expected, FX has signed an agreement that will allow the cable network to share episodes of Fox'Nathan's Choice.

The midseason comedy, produced by Warner Bros., allows the audience to choose the ending. FX will show the unaired ending. FX is also expected to sign a dual-purpose deal for another Fox series, freshman drama 24.

USA Networks see upfront sales fall

USA Networks' ad sales in the upfront market are down more than 20% overall, with price declines in the low to mid teens, according to CFO Victor Kaufman. However, he said the company expects ad revenue to be down only slightly for the year.

DTV delay sought for small markets

Montana Senators Conrad Burns and Max Baucus are asking the FCC to delay the May 2002 digital-TV rollout deadline for stations in markets 75 and above.

The sparsely populated but large coverage areas of Western TV stations make the digital transition especially costly.

"There continues to be too many economic, technical and regulatory issues to allow small-market broadcasters to successfully launch" digital TV, they wrote.

TNN looks at pop quiz

To go with its new "We've Got Pop!" slogan, TNN will be looking at a pilot presentation for pop-culture-trivia quiz show On the Cover.

Originally, the project had been in preproduction with NBC under past entertainment chief Garth Ancier but was killed off when Jeffrey Zucker came on board.

Now King World Productions will be behind On the Cover, which gets its name from the fact that questions will be based on covers of popular books, magazines, CDs and so forth.

A King World spokesperson declined to comment, and TNN executives could not be reached for comment.


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