Total advertising in the U.S. grew 10.3% in 1999, to almost $87.5 billion, according to figures released last week by Competitive Media Reporting, the New York-based ad tracker. Cable TV was the fastest-growing media segment, showing a 31% gain, to almost $8.8 billion; local television was the only segment measured to show a decline last year, falling 0.6% to $15.4 billion. Network TV was up 10.6%, to just over $18 billion. Syndicated television was up 11%, to $3 billion. Newspaper advertising increased 9.4%, to $17.7 billion.
NBC has cancelled controversial new animated sitcom "God, The Devil and Bob" after only four airings. The Carsey-Werner comedy that featured James Garner as the voice of God, will be replaced by repeats of "Frasier" for the next few weeks, NBC executives say. God had become the center of a growing controversy from religious organizations; and a number of NBC affiliates across the country opted not to air the show from the start last month. By Tuesday's final episode, 22 NBC affiliate stations, representing about 5% of the country, did not air the series. A spokesperson for NBC said that the network was "very proud" of the work that Carsey-Werner did on the show and disappointed that God wasn't able to garner a larger audience. In its three regular Tuesday night episodes, God averaged a 2.8 rating/7 share in adults 18-49 and 6.0 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.
A study released by the Parents Television Council found that sexual content, coarse language and violence had tripled on prime time broadcast television since 1989. The non-profit organization's study compared four weeks of programming in the fall of 1989 and four weeks at the outset of the current television season. The study also found that on a per-hour basis, sexual material was more than three times as frequent in 1999 than it was 10 years ago. "This study finds that broadcasters have abandoned their responsibilities and abrogated the public trust by abandoning minimum standards for content," says PTC Chairman Brent Bozell. "It also shows that there are precious few shows a parent can turn to if he or she wants to change the channel."
Who wants to win some lunch money? Dick Clark is asking the questions now. He will host a two-hour children's academic tournament special for the FOX network, which Clark's Dick Clark Productions Inc. will produce. Thirty-five kids between the ages of 9 and 12, will compete in science, math, geography, history, literature and spelling. Producer Cindy Clark says that educators, psychologists and MENSA are working with the production to ensure that the competition is fair and "a positive experience for the children."
NBC will launch its new single-camera comedy "M.Y.O.B. [Mind Your Own Business],''on Tuesday, June 6. The series follows a street-smart teen in search of her birth mother. Don Roos (Single White Female) and Ann Donahue (High Incident) are the show's producers.
Hollywood-based Internet company Creative Planet Inc. (www.creativeplanet.com) has acquired TV advertising Web site The Source Maythenyl Inc. (www.sourcetv.com). The Source Maythenyl tracks and logs national and regional commercials for more than 1,000 clients. Under terms of the agreement, company President Pam Maythenyl will continue running The Source under the new ownership structure.
Longtime ABC News executive Neil Patterson died of complications from a stroke last week at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York City. He was 50. Patterson is survived by his wife, Kris Sebastian, and three children, Schuyler, 20, Devon, 16, and Liza, 2. Patterson was a 22-year veteran of ABC News, most recently serving as senior vice president for operations and the executive-in-charge of ABC's Millennium program.
The race to deliver interactive TV services on set-tops intensified last week as OpenTV grabbed Spyglass and Liberate Technologies took over Morecom. OpenTV is acquiring Web browser maker SpyGlass in a $2.5 billion stock swap to add Internet software capabilities to its portfolio. Liberate is picking up Morecom, another interactive TV developer, in a $561 million stock transaction as a way of boosting its profile on satellite TV systems." In each case, the company being acquired rounds out the technology that the acquiring company can offer," said Jim Penhune, analyst for the Boston-based Yankee Group.
William J. Lansing, former chairman and CEO of Fingerhut Companies Inc., based in Minnetonka, Minn., has been appointed CEO of NBC Internet Inc. in San Francisco. He will succeed Chris Kitze, who has been appointed vice chairman there. NBCi is a year-and-a-half old company. Its companies include Snap.com, videoseeker. com and NBCi.com.
Arthur Dwyer, chief operating officer, Communication Trends Inc., Atlanta, has been named chairman of the Cable TV Hall Of Fame Committee, Denver. The committee plans an annual dinner to honor cable TV pioneers and induct them into the Hall of Fame. Dwyer previously served as senior vice president of Cox Communications and was formerly vice president of Turner Broadcasting, where he was instrumental in the development of the TNT cable network.
The NAB Seller's Guide in the March 13 issue had three references to the Harris line of encoders in which the encoders were described as Lucent encoders. The encoders, which are manufactured by Lucent Digital Video, are marketed by Harris Broadcast Communications Division as the Harris FlexiCoder and UniCoder.