Fast Track - Broadcasting & Cable

Fast Track

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Lyne Helms Omnimedia

Susan Lyne has been named president and CEO of Martha Stewart Omnimedia, replacing the exiting Sharon Patrick. The industry had been wondering where Lyne, who once headed ABC’s prime time entertainment division, would land after being ousted last April from the struggling network. Ironically, two shows developed under her watch, Lost and Desperate Housewives have become the network’s biggest hits since Millionaire and are primarily responsible for its ratings revival this season. Lyne has been a director of Martha Stewart Omnimedia since June.

Big Three Ad Boost

The Big Three networks’ combined ad-revenue total for third quarter 2004 was $2.8 billion. That was up a whopping 32.61% ($694 million) over third quarter 2003, thanks mostly to two kinds of races: Olympic and political. Sports advertising was up 214% over the year-ago period to $1.03 billion, though below the $1.06 billion in the third quarter of the last Summer Olympics year, 2000. According to the figures tallied by Ernst & Young and released by the Broadcast Cable Financial Management Association, revenue for the first nine months was $8.7 billion, up 15.78% from $7.5 billion in the first nine months of 2003.

Six Feet Under’s Burial

Six Feet Under creator Alan Ball is opting to end his HBO series after its upcoming fifth season. The funeral-home drama is in production on its final season, which will likely air in 2005. Six Feet Under has been nominated for numerous Emmy awards, including best drama.

Viacom Fights FCC

Viacom has asked the FCC to throw out its indecency finding and record $550,000 TV-station fine for the Janet Jackson fiasco. Viacom suggests the commission has run amok, “no longer recogniz[ing] any meaningful limits to its ability to regulate broadcast content” despite Supreme Court warnings about overbroad speech regulation. Viacom argues that, if the decision stands, “It will lead to the end of live broadcasting as we know it.” Broadcasters contend that they risk massive liability by failing to avoid an uncontrollable spontaneous transgression.

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