Fast Track


The Art of the Deal

NBC has struck a deal to buy time on Clear Channel radio, outdoor and live event properties to promote the next five Olympic games. The companies have done business in the past, but this deal represents the first time NBC has used Clear Channel to promote the Olympics. No details yet on the marketing strategy, but it will begin with next summer's Olympics in Athens, which starts Aug. 13. …

Discovery Networks diginet Discovery Home & Leisure is partnering with John Deere on a new lifestyle series, Backyard Brigade, where homeowners dream up and create their new backyard designs. John Deere products will be integrated into the show and Backyard Brigade will be promoted in John Deere retail outlets. The deal, which runs through 2004, also includes John Deere advertising on other Discovery channels, including the Science Channel, Discovery Channel and Discovery Times Channel.

ABC Pull Back on 45%?

Is ABC owner Disney would pulling back on its efforts to make sure the new 45% cap stays? Responding to a report, the company's top lobbyist, Preston Padden, says "Disney/ABC continues to support deregulation of broadcast ownership. But because we re at 24%, the impact on our company of a rollback to 35% would not be as severe or immediate as it would be to other networks."

The statement appears not so much a change of position as a recognition of political reality and the increasing likelihood that a cap rollback is coming. Disney was the last of the networks to pull out of the NAB over that group's decision to push for a rollback to the previous 35% cap—at only 24% coverage, it still has plenty of room to maneuver under the cap.

Hard Laughs

Comedy Central is bringing Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn back for an encore. The net is ordering up 104 new episodes of Tough Crowd, which features former Saturday Night Live Weekend Update anchor Quinn and other comics dishing on topics ranging from pop culture to politics.

The order extends Tough Crowd through the end of 2004. The show, which airs weeknights after The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, averages about 500,000 viewers.

Fun with numbers

Revenues for the big three networks were essentially flat in the second quarter at $2.7 billion, according to numbers compiled by Ernst & Young and released by the Broadcast Cable Financial Management Association last week. Prime time, by contrast, was up 8% to $1.7 billion, while the late night, morning, and daytime dayparts all showed double-digit gains. Sports was down 46% to $238 million. For the first six months, combined Big Three revenues are down 6% to $5.4 billion, due in large part to 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic spending.

Separately, ad spending of all sorts in the first half of 2003 rose 2.8% to almost $47 billion, according to Nielsen's Monitor-Plus ad tracking service.

The biggest gainer, on a percent basis, was Hispanic TV, up 19% to $1.2 billion. Biggest gainers in terms of dollar volume for the half were national magazines, up $800 million, or 14%, to $7 billion. Spot TV was up 4% to $10 billion, while network TV was down 4% to $10.4 billion, due in part to lack of Olympic money. Barter syndication was down 4% to $1.4 billion while cable dropped 5% to $6.4 billion, according to the Nielsen numbers.

NABET, ABC accord tentative

The National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians has reached a tentative agreement with ABC on a new contract for 10 bargaining units covering newswriters, desk assistants, talent coordinators, technicians and daily hires. The old contracts had expired May 12. The new contracts extend through March 31, 2007, and are expected to be voted up or down by Sept. 26.