Fast Track


Ad Dollars Climb But Still Off Target

The growth rate in total advertising expenditures over the past six months is trailing projections, even as total ad spending in the first nine months of 2006 ticked up by 4% over the same period in 2005 to $108.4 billion, according to a study by TNS Media Intelligence.

“Record-setting levels of political advertising, which will also impact fourth-quarter figures, have not been enough to overcome continued weakness within the automotive, retail and travel sectors,” says Steven Fredericks, TNS Media Intelligence president/CEO.

Spanish-language television saw the biggest year-over-year percentage jump for the first nine months of the year, rising 19.1% on the strength of the summer's World Cup soccer tournament to a total of $3.22 billion.

Network television ticked up 3.8% over last year for the nine-month period to $16.65 billion. Cable improved 3.3% to $12.14 billion, and national syndication was up 3.2% to $3.18 billion. —Ben Grossman

'Criminal Minds' After Super Bowl

CBS is giving the plush post-Super Bowl spot to sophomore drama Criminal Minds, immediately after Super Bowl XLI on Sunday, Feb. 4. The network's strategy comes as the show began to surpass Lost this fall in total viewers when the two went head-to-head Wednesdays at 9.

“This is an outstanding opportunity to expose a series that is young in its life cycle and on the rise to an enormous universe of potential new viewers,” says CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler.—Ben Grossman

Emmy Gets Down To Business

CBS, CNN, NBC and PBS divided up the spoils as the Emmys for Business and Financial Reporting were handed out by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences last week

CBS, CNN and NBC each received two awards; PBS got one. CBS recipients were the 60 Minutes report “Oil Sands” and CBS Sunday Morning story “Relics of Rock.”

CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 won for “Black Market Infertility,” and CNN Presents for “How To Rob a Bank.” NBC winners were the Dateline segment “Bitter Pills” and NBC Nightly News report “Congress's Private Air Force” and “Congress à la Carte.” PBS' Frontline won for its piece “Can You Afford To Retire?” —John Eggerton

Letterman Re-Ups Through 2010

CBS says that late-night fixture David Letterman will stay on at least through fall 2010. A year before that, Tonight Show host Jay Leno, who consistently beats Letterman in Nielsen ratings, is slated to be replaced by Conan O'Brien. Letterman marked his 13th anniversary as host of Late Show With David Letterman in August and will mark 25 years in late night in February.—Ben Grossman

C-SPAN Promotes Swain, Kennedy

C-SPAN is preparing a line of succession for Brian Lamb, the man who built the channel and has headed it for more than 25 years.

In what it bills as “an important step towards an eventual transition to new corporate leadership,” C-SPAN promoted Susan Swain and Rob Kennedy, two longtime top executives, to co-president. Lamb remains chairman/CEO. Swain and Kennedy also remain co-COOs. —John Eggerton

TNT, Spielberg Team Up Again

TNT is partnering with Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks Television on a limited series. The Talisman, a six-hour drama slated to premiere in summer 2008, is an adaptation of a 1984 book by Stephen King and Peter Straub. It's TNT's third King project and second collaboration with Spielberg, who worked on limited series Into the West.—Anne Becker

'Meet' the New NAB Hall of Famer

NBC's Meet the Press, the longest-running show in network TV history—it turns 60 next year—will be inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame on April 16 during the NAB convention. In October, host Tim Russert was inducted in the B&C Hall of Fame.—John Eggerton

Specter Threatens NFL on Exemption

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) plans to introduce legislation taking away the NFL's antitrust exemption.

Specter noted the league's exclusive satellite deal for its Sunday Ticket package of games, the switch of Monday Night Football to cable, and Thursday-night games that now air on cable's NFL Network, are grounds to question the exemption Congress granted in 1961.

He said, increasingly, the league demonstrates a “consumers-be-damned” attitude by taking games from free TV.

Says NFL Director of Communications Brian McCarthy, “There is no basis now to repeal statutory provisions that have supported the development of these pro-consumer and pro-fan policies.

“We have discussed a wide range of issues,” he continues, “including television, franchise moves, and stadium construction, with Sen. Specter for more than 20 years. We are sensitive to his concerns and will continue to be responsive to his interest in the NFL.” —John Eggerton

Braun Out At Yahoo!

A sweeping reorganization at Yahoo! has led to the long-rumored departure of media group chief and former ABC programmer Lloyd Braun.

Since he was hired at Yahoo! two years ago, his future at the company was the subject of constant rumors as he at first looked poised to bring major original productions into its business model. But when that initiative failed to gain traction, the company backed off to focus on more low-key and relatively low-budget programming

As part of the moves, COO Dan Rosensweig will also leave in March.

With a laggard stock price and a business perceived to be slumping in comparison with that of Google and others on many fronts, CEO Terry Semel announced a new structure that will see the organization split into an Audience Group, an Advertiser and Publisher Group, and a Technology group.—Ben Grossman

Veteran Publicist Ronnie Lippin Dies

Veteran rock publicist/manager Ronnie F. Lippin, 59, died Dec. 4 at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after a long battle with breast cancer. She was the wife of Lippin Group Chairman/CEO Dick Lippin and served as the PR agency's president.

A foundation for the study of rare forms of cancer is being established in her name. The family held a private ceremony. —Jim Benson

ABC Shuffles Schedule

Lost is moved to avoid clash with American Idol

ABC will shift Lost from 9 p.m. ET to 10 p.m. Wednesdays to avoid the American Idol behemoth when the third-year drama returns to the network Feb. 7. The network will also finally unveil Knights of Prosperity (among its working titles, Let's Rob…Mick Jagger) on Wednesday, Jan. 3 at 9, which will be followed another new series, In Case of Emergency. Knights will go head-to-head with the Idol “results show” in that slot.

Wednesday nights will lead off with returning comedies George Lopez and According to Jim.

William Shatner-hosted gamer Show Me the Money will settle in Tuesdays at 8 in the new year.

Up in the air is the plan for the remainder of Day Break, which now runs in the Wednesday 9 p.m. slot that will be taken over by the new comedies. If it survives, it could finish its run at 10 on Wednesdays, but the show's future is still up in the air.

Dancing With the Stars is expected to return in March. Still waiting to launch is the comedy Notes From the Underbelly. Dramas The Nine and Six Degrees are still benched and available to plug in. Also in the bullpen is Jimmy Kimmel-hosted game show Set for Life.