Breathing Room For Oxygen
Digital cable networks may think they can launch for less than $100 million, but making it as an analog channel costs far more. One of the last to try it, Oxygen, has burned through more than $500 million to get to 50 million homes. Getting distribution has been a tough slog. But Oxygen Media Chairman and CEO Geraldine Laybourne says her company will finally be cash-positive next year. "We've made it through the hard part," said Laybourne last week.
Oxygen jettisoned its early focus of coupling TV with the Internet to concentrate on TV. But it still has a tech edge. Laybourne says the network is working on video-on-demand offerings of "evergreen" programs rather than repeats of its originals.—A.R.
Tarzan Loses Its 'Appeel'
Executives at The WB were surprised last week to find their offices deluged with baskets of bananas, including notes printed with the slogan "I am crazy for Tarzan" (why not the more obvious 'I am bananas for Tarzan,' we don't know).
Although the Warner Bros.-produced show (right) apparently has a devoted fan base, the program is a ratings bust and is going off the air now that November sweeps are over. Tarzan fans have set up several Web sites to lobby for the show's survival, including tarzantheseries.com, www.cinescape.com and savetarzan.withtheprettiness.net. The WB hasn't totally written the show off yet, but production on the Toronto-based set has been shut down.—P.A.
Univision CEO Is In Dubya's Camp
Univision CEO Jerry Perenchio knows a good investment when he sees one. That's why he's using his power and influence to raise at least $100,000 for President George W. Bush's reelection bid, placing him in the elite fundraising category of Bush Pioneers. After all, the Republican-dominated Federal Communications Commission and Justice Department approved Univision's $3.5 billion merger with the Hispanic Broadcasting Corp. According to Federal Election Commission records, Perenchio already has contributed $4,000 of his own dough to the campaign. The rest is coming from business associates, friends or relatives. Meanwhile, Perenchio has also been giving thousands to Democrats—including $25,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee this year—apparently to hedge his bets and diversify his portfolio.—David Hatch
Nightly, But Later
Maybe some viewers don't mind watching old news. That's the thinking at Comcast, which offers replays of NBC Nightly News With Tom Brokaw (left) and local news from NBC-owned WCAU(TV) Philadelphia on its free video-on-demand service. Comcast Senior VP of Marketing and New Products Andy Addis says orders for the news products are "in the thousands" and many users are opting to watch between 8 and 9 p.m. Addis said Comcast and NBC are talking about renewing their deal for next year.—A.R.
Queer Eye for the FCC
FCC Chairman Michael Powell underwent a makeover last week in a spoof of NBC/Bravo's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy
at the Federal Communications Bar Association's annual Chairman's Dinner. But Powell saved the best jokes for the podium after the tape. Noting that lawmakers will soon vote on a plan to roll back the FCC's 45% limit on broadcasters' national reach to 39%: "The dividing line between democracy and fascism is very narrow. According to Congress, it's 6%."—B.M.