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Hot Off The Press: The Latest TV News and Information - Page 4

post #91 of 93854
Thread Starter 
It is not TV, but .
David Halberstam, 73
Journalist, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author

The Associated Press is reporting that David Halberstam was killed early today when a car he was in was broadsided near the Dumbarton Bridge in Menlo Park, CA.
post #92 of 93854
Thread Starter 
David Halberstam, 73
Journalist, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author
(from wikipedia)

David Halberstam (April 10, 1934-April 23, 2007) was an American journalist and author. Halberstam graduated from Harvard University with a degree in journalism in 1955 and started his career writing for the Daily Times Leader in West Point, Mississippi. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, writing for the Nashville Tennesseean, he covered the beginnings of the American Civil Rights Movement.

In the mid 1960s, Halberstam covered the Vietnam War for The New York Times. While there, he gathered material for his book The Making of a Quagmire: America and Vietnam during the Kennedy Era. In 1963, he received a George Polk Award for his reporting at the New York Times. At the age of 30, he won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the war. He is interviewed in the 1968 documentary film on the Vietnam War entitled In the Year of the Pig.

Halberstam put an enormous effort into his book about Kennedy's foreign policy decisions about the Vietnam War, The Best and the Brightest. Synthesizing material from dozens of books and many dozens of interviews, Halberstam focused on the odd paradox that those who crafted the U.S. war effort in Vietnam were some of the most intelligent, well-connected and self-confident men in America"the best and the brightest"and yet those same men were unable to imagine and promote any but a bloody and disastrous course in the Vietnam War.

Thousands of readers began The Best and the Brightest feeling that the U.S. must pursue the war in Vietnam until "victory" was achieved, but became convinced by Halberstam's book that the U.S. lacked the backbone to stand up for itself and should withdraw from Vietnam.

After publication of The Best and the Brightest in 1972, Halberstam plunged right into another "big" book and in 1979 published an informative book about some of the major media outlets in America. The Powers That Be gave compelling profiles of men like William Paley of CBS, Henry Luce of Time magazine, Phil Graham of The Washington Postand many others.

Later in his career, Halberstam turned to the subjects of sports, publishing The Breaks of the Game, an inside look at the Bill Walton and the 1978 Portland Trailblazers basketball team; an ambitious book on Michael Jordan in 1999 called Playing for Keeps; and on the pennant race battle between the Yankees and Red Sox called Summer of '49.

After publishing two books in the 1960s, Halberstam published three books in the 1970s, four books in the 1980s, and six books in the 1990s. He published four books in the 2000s and was on a pace to publish six or more books in that decade before his death. In the wake of 9/11, Halberstam wrote perhaps the most sensitive and insightful book about that tragedy, detailing Engine 40, Ladder 35, in the tome, Firehouse.

In 1980, an escaped convict from New York, Bernard C. Welch, Jr., murdered Halberstam's brother, Michael, a Washington, D.C. cardiologist. Halberstam refused to comment publicly about this incident.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the San Mateo County coroner has confirmed Halberstam's death in a traffic accident in Menlo Park, California near the Dumbarton Bridge on April 23, 2007.[1] At the time of his death, Halberstam was working on a book about the Korean War. He lived in New York City.
post #93 of 93854
Thread Starter 
Critic's Notebook
Whence Veronica'
By Roger Catlin Hartford Courant TV Critic in his TV Eye blog April 23, 2007

Dorothy Hall Bolton writes:

Roger, can you explain to me what happened to Veronica Mars? It is one of the very few things on commercial TV that I watch regularly or did watch. Will it ever be back?

Once a contestant is deemed skanky enough to win "The Pussycat Dolls Present: Search fora New Doll" this week, "Veronica Mars" returns for its final new episodes of the season next week.

It airs May 1 and May 8, making way for a two hour "Gilmore Girls" finale May 15 and returns for its own two hour season finale May 22.

I had heard earlier that "Veronica Mars" would stress more stand-alone episode than season-long mysteries as a way to boost viewers. Alternate future versions of "Veronica Mars," in which she's all grown up and in the FBI are being prepared in case the network wants to go that way when (or if ) it returns.

The ratings for "Veronica" wouldn't normally warrant a fourth season, but the possibility is there. CW chief Dawn Osteroff is said to be a fan, and the network will want to have some old show to hold on to especially if "Gilmore Girls" doesn't survive to a next season (and tellingly, its May 15 episode is entitled "Bon Voyage").

We'll all know the future when the networks announce their fall plans in mid May.

post #94 of 93854
Originally Posted by VisionOn View Post

Good grief. I've been watching MiT from the beginning and I even I can't remember who or what happened in the last broadcast episode. If any latecomers to the party remember this show exists when it returns, I'll be amazed. Especially if they care enough to tune in after only seeing 6 or 7 Thursday episodes this year.

No kidding, it may have not been a ratings blockbuster but it's miles better than the crap they've been putting in the slot, "October Road"? What utter garbage...
post #95 of 93854
Thread Starter 
The New York Times Obituary
David Halberstam, 73
Journalist and Author Dies in Car Crash
By Clyde Haberman The New York Times April 24, 2007

David Halberstam, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and tireless author of books on topics as varied as America's military failings in Vietnam, the deaths of firefighters at the World Trade Center and the high-pressure world of professional basketball, was killed yesterday in a car crash south of San Francisco. He was 73, and lived in Manhattan.

Mr. Halberstam was a passenger in a car making a turn in Menlo Park, Calif., when it was hit broadside by another car and knocked into a third vehicle, said the San Mateo County police. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The man who was driving Mr. Halberstam, a journalism student at the University of California at Berkeley, was injured, as were the drivers of the other two vehicles. None of those injuries were called serious.

Mr. Halberstam was killed doing what he had done his entire adult life: reporting. He was on his way to interview Y. A. Tittle, the former New York Giants quarterback, for a book about the 1958 championship game between the Giants and the Baltimore Colts, considered by many to be the greatest football game ever played.

Tall, square-jawed and graced with an imposing voice so deep that it seemed to begin at his ankles, Mr. Halberstam came into his own as a journalist in the early 1960s covering the nascent American war in South Vietnam for The New York Times.

His reporting, along with that of several colleagues, left little doubt that a corrupt South Vietnamese government supported by the United States was no match for Communist guerrillas and their North Vietnamese allies. His dispatches infuriated American military commanders and policy makers in Washington, but they accurately reflected the realities on the ground.

For that work, Mr. Halberstam shared a Pulitzer Prize in 1964. Eight years later, after leaving The Times, he chronicled what went wrong in Vietnam how able and dedicated men propelled the United States into a war later deemed unwinnable in a book whose title entered the language: The Best and the Brightest.

Mr. Halberstam went on to write more than 20 books, including one on the Korean War scheduled to be published in the fall.

I think the work he was proudest of was his trilogy on war, his wife, Jean Halberstam, said last night. Besides The Best and the Brightest, she was referring to a study of United States policies in the 1990s called War in a Time of Peace: Bush, Clinton and the Generals, and the Korean War book, The Coldest Winter.

Mr. Halberstam's range, however, extended well beyond war. His interests roamed from basketball to the auto industry, from the 1949 American League pennant race to the rise of modern media conglomerates in the 20th century.

A writer should be like a playwright putting people on stage, putting ideas on stage, making the reader become the audience, he recently told an interviewer for NY1 News.

Over the years, he developed a pattern of alternating a book with a weighty theme with one that might seem of slighter import but to which he nonetheless applied his considerable reportorial muscles. He was a man who didn't have a lazy bone in his body, said the writer Gay Talese, a close family friend.

Almost invariably, Mr. Halberstam wrote about sports in those alternate books. They were his entertainments, his wife said. They were his way to take a break.

As a result, his book on the media, The Powers That Be, was followed by a basketball book, The Breaks of the Game. A study of the decline of the American automobile industry and the Japanese ascension, The Reckoning, was followed before long by The Summer of '49, on an epic pennant battle between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

Other works included The Fifties, a look at a decade that he argued was more monumental than many believed; The Children, about the civil-rights movement of the 1960s; and Firehouse, a study of the tight-knit world of New York firefighters, focused on 13 men from a firehouse near his Upper West Side home who went to the World Trade Center on 9/11. Only one survived.

Mr. Halberstam is survived by his wife, a consultant to the New York Harbor Conservancy, and their daughter, Julia, a schoolteacher in Manhattan.

post #96 of 93854
Thread Starter 
TV Sports
Yankees-Red Sox Big For ESPN

By Ben Grossman -Broadcasting & Cable,4/23/2007

ESPN's telecast of Sunday night's Boston Red Sox-New York Yankees game earned a 4.0/7 overnight cable rating, the network's best number for a regular-season baseball game in almost three years.

It was the best rating since a July 25, 2004 Red Sox-Yankees game delivered a 4.4 rating.

The game also did a 24.7/39 in Boston, which was ESPN's top regular season baseball rating ever in the market.

post #97 of 93854
Fred, good luck on this new thread; hopefully, it will be as informative and entertaining, if not more so, than the original one.
post #98 of 93854
Thread Starter 
It is just a continuation of the previous and original "Hot Off The Press", SowegaBowler.

I, too, hope it will continue to improve.

And thanks for your words!
post #99 of 93854
Keep up the great work, Fred. I'm a relative latecomer to your thread, but I'm really enjoying it.

I started to watch 'Wedding Crashers' tonite, hoping to see a promo for the Raines season finale. I didn't see a single one all night, although I may have missed one after I turned off 'Crashers' in disgust. It is simply unwatchable.

Regarding Raines, apparently NBC wants to keep it a secret. But, they have plenty of time to promote and broadcast crap. No wonder they're in the toilet.
post #100 of 93854
Thread Starter 
I think NBC lost all confidence in "Raines" a long time ago, jandron. But i have seen many "Raines" promos over the past month or so. Perhaps the powers that be decided anyone who would watch all of "Wedding Crashers" couldn't possibly be interested in "Raines".

I finally watched a couple of "Raines" episodes the other day and sort of enjoyed them. Certainly I think the show had a chance had it been backed and promoted well.

It seemed was quirky, off-beat and pretty well done, at least IMO.

But I have no idea where on the NBCD schedule you could put it and have anybody know it was there.

NBC today is similar to NBC of the late 70s pre-Silverman era when the FBI could have put Witness Protection people on NBC shows as stars and no one would have been able to find them.

Aside from "Heroes" I am unaware of any NBC show with any real buzz. Except of course for "30 Rock" which has dismal ratings and "Fruiday Night Lights" which does better, but not well.

I do not envy Kevin Reilly's decisions in the coming days before he announces the fall schedule at NBC's upfront presentation three weeks from today.

---And thank you so much for the very kind words.
post #101 of 93854
Originally Posted by keenan View Post

I thought NBC's plan was to put this sort of crap ["Wedding Crashers"] on in the 8-9 pm hr?

I still don't understand why the hell they don't put "Medium" back in it's original 10pm Monday slot....what other show on NBC could be more suited to follow "Heroes"?

It's part of NBC's masterplan to stay in 4th place to minimize costs and maximize profitablity.
post #102 of 93854
Thread Starter 
If they keep this up they can cut costs by getting rid of the NBC ad sales department.
post #103 of 93854
The thing that bothers me most about NBC is not the fall to fourth but the way they have completely squandered their reputation as a "classy" network and spiralled into, frankly, something worse than Fox prior to its Idol days.

Aside from general program offerings that suck, their promos are laughably poor, cheesy, and outdated. It's like NBC has become a parody of itself. You're not going to win over any longtime viewers when your promos make everything on your network look like drivel.

I think this NBCU synergy crap has seriously eroded any semblance of integrity NBC once hand. It's certainly polluted and destroyed most respect anyone ever had for NBC News.
post #104 of 93854
Thread Starter 
TV Sports
Kwan may join NBC broadcast team
By Philip Hersh Special to The Los Angeles Times (Philip Hersh covers Olympic sports for The Times and the Chicago Tribune.)

Michelle Kwan could be part of the broadcast team NBC assembles when it begins coverage of the U.S. Championships and Skate America next season.

Sources said that Kwan, the world's preeminent skater for more than a decade, is under consideration for such a position, partly because of her potential appeal to younger audiences. Figure skating's current viewer demographics skew largely toward a middle-aged, female audience.

Kwan, a student at the University of Denver, has not officially retired but has not competed in an Olympic-style event since the 2005 World Championships.

Shep Goldberg, Kwan's agent, had no comment on the question of whether she might be moving into the booth.

"We haven't discussed talent yet," NBC spokesman Mike McCarley said today. "The ink is barely dry on the deal."

NBC sports chairman Dick Ebersol said choosing talent would be up to skating producer David Michaels.

"We will be looking at just about everybody," Ebersol said.

Speaking during a Monday teleconference which announced officially a three-year deal between the network and the U.S. Figure Skating Assn. that the Tribune reported last Friday Ebersol said his friend of 40 years, Dick Button, would receive "great consideration." Ebersol said NBC would give similar consideration to Tom Hammond and Scott Hamilton, the network's figure skating commentators at the last Winter Olympics.

In discussing the new contract, Ebersol said the USFSA's willingness to innovate with scheduling of its events was critical to NBC's interest in broadcasting them.

This is how the NBC broadcast schedule will work: Skate America, two hours live, Sunday afternoon, including the women's and dance finals. Skate America previously had been shown on tape at least a day after the competition.

U.S. Championships: Saturday afternoon, pairs final, two hours live. Saturday night, dance and women's finals, three hours live. Sunday afternoon, men's final, two hours live.

Format changes at nationals are necessary for those telecasts.

Rather than having the entire field in each of the sport's four disciplines compete during the same finals' session, only the top eight to 12 in the standings going into each free skate would skate during the live telecasts.

The others will be relegated to an earlier session that would be webcast on nbcsports.com and figure skating's Internet property, Ice Network. That will create a more interesting program not only for TV but the stadium audience at the finals.

"It's like a Final Four of figure skating," Ebersol said.

Skating's new scoring system made such a change possible, since judges no longer are to measure skaters in relation to each other but against a series of fixed standards. It should be possible for a skater who does not make the live telecast to make a significant jump in the final standings if the judges do not base scores on reputation.

This will not be the first time that competition at the U.S. Championships has ended on Sunday rather than Saturday. From 1989 through 1991, the men's final took place Sunday.

Ebersol said NBC's potential interest in rights to the world championships and other international events, which belong to ABC/ESPN through 2008, "will be totally dependent on how innovative" the International Skating Union can be. NBC has U.S. broadcast rights to the Olympics through the 2012 Summer Games.

While the U.S. deal does not contain a rights fee for the USFSA, its executive director, David Raith said he was "ecstatic about it" in an interview before the teleconference.

There are several reasons for his enthusiasm:

In a time of declining ratings for the sport (60% drop for the women's final at the U.S. Championships over the past decade), NBC has agreed to do nine hours of live broadcasts, seven from the national meet and two from Skate America. Getting that much live exposure on a major over-the-air broadcast network is a significant positive for skating.

Ebersol confirmed Raith's statement that NBC is going to "promote the heck out of this property on major shows in prime time." "They want to help support their [2010] Winter Olympic coverage," Raith said, "and this shows they see figure skating as a way to do it. It reaffirms that figure skating is the No. 1 property in Winter Olympic sports."

ABC/ESPN, which held U.S. broadcast rights for the past 12 years, did relatively little promotion of late. Promoting on ESPN, which broadcast some 30 hours of skating this season, would have had minimal impact, since ESPN's audience is largely men who follow "stick and ball" sports. Ebersol said he would use NBC, USA Network and websites for the promotion. ABC/ESPN had right of first refusal on a new contract but decided skating no longer fit into ESPN's programming emphasis.

"This season's ABC/ESPN coverage of nationals was the best produced in recent years," Raith said. "They never shied away or cut back because the contract was ending, which shows just how professional they are."

ABC/ESPN gave the USFSA a $12-million annual rights fee over the last eight years. Raith expects the NBC deal to produce enough revenue that his organization will not have to cut its operating budget, nearly two-thirds of which came in recent years from the rights fee.

"I am as proud of this deal as I was of the $12-million rights fee," Eddie Einhorn, the USFSA's TV consultant, said in a Monday interview.

That is not just a proud "parent" talking.

Getting the live over-the-air hours is important for a sport that, like many others, was losing viewers on cable, even a cable network with the enormously high profile of ESPN.

Breeders' Cup ratings decreased 53% when they went from NBC to ESPN. The NBA's ratings also have fallen since most of their regular-season games (and promotion) moved to cable. Baseball's over-the-air postseason ratings are down in an era when nearly every team has its regular-season games on cable.

Other than the major sports, which include NASCAR and some golf tournaments but no longer hockey, no sports attract significant national TV rights fees in the current marketplace.

There even had been a feeling the USFSA would have to pay for airtime to get a new broadcast partner.

How well this new deal works financially, especially for the USFSA, will depend on how well the parties do in attracting sponsors. The USFSA will start making money once revenues exceed an agreed-upon level that has not been revealed.

The USFSA will get the revenue from State Farm, which Raith said would continue as title sponsor for the U.S. Championships. If the competition's four other national TV sponsors choose to continue, NBC and the USFSA will share those revenues under a complex formula.

This is the first time in more than a decade that the USFSA will deal directly with sponsors in terms of revenues. The ABC/ESPN deal gave the marketing and sponsorship rights and revenues to the networks.

"We have a budget this agreement will help support," Raith said. "We're in good shape." The question is whether NBC chooses to extend the deal past 2010. That probably would depend on whether NBC buys U.S. broadcast rights to Olympics after 2012 and what its ratings are the next three years.

post #105 of 93854
Thread Starter 
The 2007-2008 Season
'Grey' shifts for Vernoff, Noxon
By Nellie Andreeva The Hollywood Reporter April 24, 2007

Faced with the prospect of running two big medical dramas next season, Shonda Rhimes has picked Krista Vernoff as the day-to-day point person on "Grey's Anatomy." Marti Noxon also has been tapped for the same position on the anticipated "Grey's" spinoff series.

Rhimes, creator/executive producer of both "Grey's" and its potential spinoff, will serve as showrunner on both series.

On "Grey's," the highest-rated scripted series this season, Rhimes will continue to serve as executive producer alongside Vernoff, Mark Gordon and Betsy Beers.

On the potential spinoff series, slated to test the waters as a two-hour "Grey's" episode May 3, she will executive produce alongside Noxon, Gordon and Beers.

Both shows hail from ABC TV Studio and the Mark Gordon Co.

Vernoff has been a rising star on "Grey's" and was named executive producer on the show in June.

Noxon joined "Grey's" at the end of last year. She quickly became a key team member on the show and was named executive producer in March. An experienced showrunner best known for her stint at the helm of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," she will now move to the new "Grey's" series, helping to get it off the ground.

While it has not been ordered to series yet, the "Grey's" spinoff series starring Kate Walsh, Tim Daly and Taye Diggs and Amy Brenneman is considered a sure bet for ABC's 2007-08 schedule.

post #106 of 93854
For those curious about Torchwood, it's a pretty good, fun show. I do think it takes a little while to get rolling. And, it has a really bad (but somewhat important) 4th episode. After that it really gets rolling and stays pretty consistently good the rest of the way. If you are a Captain Jack fan, you should enjoy it. It's really a much better fit for BBC America than Sci-Fi due to its more adult content. (MUCH more adult than Doctor Who - which is made abundantly clear in the opening seconds of the show.) BBCAmerica tends to let a little more ribald content air. It's too bad it will air after season 3 of Doctor Who in the US, since it is clearly set between seasons 2 and 3 of DW, but oh well, no bigge.
post #107 of 93854
Finally.. maybe 5 browns games in hd this year (up from 1 in previous years)

Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

TV Sports
CBS Doubles HD Coverage Of NFL
The network says it will show five or six games each week in high-def.
By Phillip Swann TV Predictions.com April 23, 2007
post #108 of 93854
Guess I'm in the minority who will actually miss Raines For those that watched Studio 60, it seems that show was depicting more than a fictional show on a fictional network. They claim to rail against crappy reality programming, yet fight to get rid of whatever smart, albeit quirky, well written shows, with a hint of class. This instead of the drivel they go out of their way to promote heavily. Oh, its useless!
post #109 of 93854
Thread Starter 
Washington Notebook
FCC Seeks To Rein In Violent TV Shows
Agency Will Recommend Law to Regulate Broadcast And Basic Cable Content
By Paul Farhi and Frank Ahrens Washington Post Staff Writers Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Federal regulators, concerned about the effect of television violence on children, will recommend that Congress enact legislation to give the government unprecedented powers to curb violence in entertainment programming, according to government and TV industry sources.

The Federal Communications Commission has concluded that regulating TV violence is in the public interest, particularly during times when children are likely to be viewers -- typically between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., FCC sources say.

The agency's recommendations -- which will be released in a report to Congress within the next week, agency officials say -- could set up a legal battle between Washington and the television industry.

For decades, the FCC has penalized over-the-air broadcasters for airing sexually suggestive, or "indecent," speech and images, but it has never had the authority to fine TV stations and networks for violent programming.

The report -- commissioned by members of Congress in 2004 and based on hundreds of comments from parents, industry officials, academic experts and others -- concludes that Congress has the authority to regulate "excessive violence" and to extend its reach for the first time into basic-cable TV channels that consumers pay to receive.

First Amendment experts and television industry executives, however, say that any attempt to regulate TV violence faces high constitutional hurdles -- particularly regarding cable, because consumers choose to buy its programming.

Further, any laws governing TV violence would have to define what violence is. The FCC report contains broad guidelines but leaves the details up to Congress.

Regulators and lawmakers say that violent acts on entertainment shows -- from torture scenes on Fox's "24" to the cartoonish mayhem of professional wrestling -- have escalated in recent years, posing a continuing threat to children.

"Parents are always the first and last line of defense in protecting their children, but legislation could give parents more tools," FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said yesterday regarding the report. "I think it would be better if the industry addressed this on its own, but we can also give parents" help through regulation.

The FCC's conclusions probably will form the basis of legislation being drafted by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), says spokeswoman Wendy Morigi. Rockefeller, who is a Commerce Committee member, will introduce his bill after he has digested the FCC's recommendations, she said.

The FCC is finishing its recommendations amid heightened sensitivity to the issue, given the round-the-clock TV news coverage of the shooting rampage at Virginia Tech.

Social-science research dating back to the 1950s has demonstrated that prolonged exposure to watching violence on TV has a negative effect on children -- with observed behavior ranging from heightened anxiety to aggressive acts. But studies also have shown that some portrayals of TV violence can be beneficial, such as showing children the harm caused by violent behavior.

Congress has wrestled with the issue for decades but has never enacted a law designed to curb it. In 2004, 39 lawmakers asked the FCC to study the issue and advise Congress on legislation.

A key obstacle to any such law has been crafting a definition for violence that could survive a court review.

According to FCC sources, the report's recommendations include the creation of an "a la carte" system that would allow consumers to buy only the cable channels they want -- a favorite plan of Martin's that is widely opposed by cable companies.

Several large media companies own basic cable channels, some of which feature violent content. It is unknown which channels are cited in the report.

Viacom, which owns MTV, Nickelodeon and Spike -- whose prime-time programming is supported by the mixed-martial-arts Ultimate Fighting Championship -- said it would not comment on the FCC report until it is released.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is home to the FX basic-cable network, which features "The Shield," a drama about troubled and corrupt police officers, and last month premiered "The Riches," which showed the graphic and bloody results of a fatal car crash. And "24," which airs on News Corp.'s Fox broadcast network, regularly features graphic torture sequences. News Corp. declined to comment until the report is issued.

NBC Universal did not return calls seeking comment. Its shows include the science-fiction drama "Battlestar Galactica," which airs on the company's basic-cable Sci Fi Channel and includes torture and fight scenes.

Adam D. Thierer, a senior fellow at the Progress & Freedom Foundation who writes extensively on government regulation of the media, said the answer to preventing children from seeing violent content is in the hands of the parents -- literally.

"There are more ways to control violent and objectionable content on cable and satellite television than ever before," Thierer said. "Every single set-top-box technology on the market has some sort of parental-control mechanism embedded in it."

But many parents don't use V-chip blocking, the technology that Congress in 1996 mandated be built into TV sets to filter programs based on industry-developed ratings -- which in any case are inconsistent, according to a report released last week by the Parents Television Council, an advocacy group that monitors television shows for sexual and violent content. The report said that networks are not accurately applying ratings to programs, thus enabling children to see sexual and violent content that parents are trying to block.

Thierer said that if Congress were to pass laws that empower the FCC or another agency to regulate basic-cable channels for violent content, they likely would not stand legal challenges brought by the cable industry. He drew an analogy to local and federal attempts to regulate violent content in video games, which -- like cable and satellite television -- do not come into the home free over the airwaves.

"Every single one of them was struck down as unconstitutional," Thierer said. Further, in 2000 the Supreme Court struck down part of the Communications Decency Act that required cable operators to scramble or block the Playboy Channel, saying such methods are unconstitutional.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association, the trade group of large cable companies, including Comcast, declined to comment on the report until it is released.

Dennis Wharton, a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters, drew a distinction between broadcast television and other programming: "Most people would recognize that broadcast programming is far more tame -- both in terms of sexual and violent content -- than what you'd find on cable and satellite TV."

post #110 of 93854
Thread Starter 
TV Sports
HBO Sports Change Imminent?
Merchant appears destined for final rounds at HBO
By Bernard Fernandez Philadelphia Daily News April 24, 2007

Larry Merchant was speaking about the need for those in leadership positions to sometimes make difficult decisions.

"I've had to make personnel changes," Merchant said. "That includes at the Philadelphia Daily News, when I was the sports editor there. That includes at NBC when I produced a show there. In every case, the guy I brought in improved my staff and my product.

"To me, as a leader, that's your only standard."

I called Merchant at his Santa Monica, Calif., home regarding the rumor that his 29-year run as a boxing commentator for HBO is nearing its end and that he will be replaced in the HBO Championship Boxing announcing lineup by Max Kellerman.

All signs point to Merchant's last two HBO telecasts being the May 5 pay-per-view showdown of Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. in Las Vegas and the May 19 middleweight title bout between champion Jermain Taylor and Cory Spinks in Memphis, Tenn.

The debut for Kellerman, 33, now toiling in the purgatory of HBO's ratings-challenged "Boxing After Dark" telecasts, would be the June 9 matchup of Miguel Cotto and Zab Judah in New York's Madison Square Garden - ironically, the night after Merchant receives the James J. Walker Award for long and meritorious service to boxing at the Boxing Writers Association of America's 82nd annual awards dinner at the Copacabana, just down the street from the Garden.

Merchant, 76, never has minded asking the tough questions, or answering them. But, as much as he seemingly is aching to go public about reports he is being forced out by HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg, he understands that professional ethics demand a code of silence for the time being.

"On the record, all I can say is 'No comment,' " Merchant said.

An HBO spokesman said the cable network does not comment on contractual matters.

What remains to be seen is whether the Kellerman-for-Merchant switch, if it is a done deal, improves HBO's boxing brand. Frankly, I think it is dubious. Ousting a gray-haired septuagenarian still capable of getting the job done in favor of a much younger guy with considerably less journalistic experience smacks of age discrimination.

Younger does not necessarily mean better. Remember when HBO launched its "KO Nation" series in the hope of creating a new generation of boxing fans? We got blaring rap, nondescript fights and, worst of all, host Ed Lover, a clueless disc jockey who was as miscast as a boxing announcer as Sanjaya Malakar would be in "La Boheme." "KO Nation," which answered the bell in 2000, was, thankfully, KO'd in 2001.

What's odd in this instance is that HBO backed Merchant even when such powerful fighters as De La Hoya and Mike Tyson demanded his ouster. HBO also stood behind announcer Jim Lampley when he recently was accused of domestic violence by a former girlfriend. Lampley was sentenced to 3 years' probation after pleading no contest to violating a restraining order.

If Merchant's age is not the main thing being held against him, then maybe he's the scapegoat for the shrinking viewership for HBO's boxing telecasts, although that owes more to the many mismatches approved on Greenburg's and senior vice president Kery Davis' watch. If you're an "HBO fighter" these days, chances are, the pay is excellent and the opposition soft. To his credit, Merchant has refused to play the role of acquiescent house man when the action in the ring was dreadful.

post #111 of 93854
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by RockysDad View Post

Fredfa, just out of curiousity, shouldn't the shows that are "Renewed for 2007-2008" be removed from the "Picked up for 2007" column? As the end of the season nears, it makes it an easier reference to see the shows on the fence... If this has been asked and answered, sorry, but its a lot of posts to search...

In taking a close look at the lists, RockysDad, I've decided to leave them as they are.

Here's why: The "Renewed for 2007-08" list obviously contains shows that will be back, in some form with at least a certain number of episodes.

On the other hand, the "Full Season 2006-07 Pickups" list refers to shows which may have seemed on the fence DURING this season, but got renewed through the end of it.

There actually is a major difference in the two lists, and subtracting one from the other actually gives you a very good idea of what shows are on the fence with the upfronts fast approaching.
post #112 of 93854
Thread Starter 
The 2007-2008 Season
'Law & Disorder,' Part 2:
No More Noth?
By Roger Friedman FoxNews.com April 24 2007

Here's a little more about the turmoil at Dick Wolf's "Law & Order" shows on NBC.

Wolf, sources say, is in a huge cost cutting move at the moment to keep classic "L&O" and "Criminal Intent" on the air. For the former show he has already fired a producer and is thinking of axing the actors who play the cops. He would replace them with younger, cheaper people.

For "Criminal Intent," it's a different story. There is talk that Wolf has suggested eliminating long time "L&O" player Chris Noth from "CI." Noth came on in 2006 to alternate episodes with Vincent D'Onofrio. The latter actor had become very difficult and the company required a soothing change.

But D'Onofrio, they say, has calmed down. He is also less expensive than Noth, who is such a bona-fide star that he could easily carry his own show. On top of that, Noth has already gone through one co-star, Annabella Sciorra. Now I'm told that Julianne Nicholson, who replaced Sciorra, is already not coming back thanks to her pregnancy.

Here's an interesting theory about why "CI" might survive while classic "L&O" might not. Apparently, "CI" is a hit in France, where the scripts are refilmed with French actors. The French production company pays a high fee for this.

"They don't like the original 'Law & Order' because their judicial system doesn't allow for the way the show is divided between the cops and lawyers," an observer said. "'CI' is much easier for them to replicate."

Stay tuned. ...

post #113 of 93854
Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

TV Sports
HBO Sports Change Imminent?
Merchant appears destined for final rounds at HBO

Very sad news. Merchant has been enriching my life with unintentional comedy for decades now during these boxing telecasts. I am only a mild boxing fan, but I LOVE HBO Boxing. First George Foreman and now Larry. If Jim Lampley ever leaves I will be enraged.
post #114 of 93854
Thread Starter 
The Business of Television
From TiVo, better data on ad skipping
New system reveals how many viewers fast-forward
By Kevin Downey medialifemagazine.com April 24, 2007

At some point, media buyers and sellers will reach agreement on how best to include viewing of prerecorded TV shows in with live viewing in negotiating advertising deals.

But with the upfront television market now just weeks away, it doesn't look like it's going to happen this year for next season's fall shows. As in years past, sellers won't be able to charge for the millions of people who choose to watch their shows after recording them on TiVo and other such delayed-viewing devices.

The reason: For all the new data now provided by Nielsen Media Research on time-shifted viewing and viewing within commercial pods, buyers say they still lack the information they most need to set a value on DVR-ed shows: numbers on how many people are fast-forwarding through commercials when they watch shows in replay.

TiVo may have the answer. The DVR maker is offering buyers data on viewing on some of its digital video recorders that would reveal just how much ad-skipping does take place. But the information is new, and it could take buyers many months to analyze. That means it probably won't become a tool for negotiations until next year's upfront.

TiVo began offering its viewing data through its Stop||Watch system in February, and media buying agencies are only now signing up, including those owned by Interpublic, which yesterday became the first agency holding company to sign on.

TiVo's Stop||Watch tracks viewing on 20,000 DVRs, including viewing of programs and commercials as they initially air and in DVR playback, and it does so on a second-by-second basis, which is far more refined than the minute-by-minute data provided by Nielsen.

Nielsen is not able to currently measure fast-forwarding accurately because they are limited to minute data, says Steve Sternberg, executive vice president of audience analysis at Interpublic agency Magna Global. Fast-forwarded commercials can still be included in the average commercial minute ratings. [Stop||Watch] will help us see how television is really viewed in a DVR-enabled home.

It's critical for the networks that media buyers place some value on people watching commercials in playback.

If time-shifted viewing was included in ratings, each of the Big Four networks would see its 18-49 audience increase roughly 7 percent, or by some 300,000 viewers in an average minute of primetime, according to Nielsen data for the broadcast season through April 15.

When not including time-shifted viewing, ABC's average 18-49 audience this season, for instance, is 4.24 million people. When including live viewing, meaning the original broadcast of a program, plus seven days of DVR playback, its audience goes up to 4.53 million people, an increase of 6.8 percent.

CBS's audience goes up 6.6 percent. NBC's audience increases 7.1 percent while Fox's and the CW's audience each goes up 7.5 percent.

Certain programs like ABC's Lost, Fox's American Idol and CBS's CSI add more than 2 million viewers some weeks in DVR playback. These viewers are not currently included in the prices media buyers pay for commercials.

Nielsen has been making headway in counting viewers watching DVR-recorded programs. Last year it began measuring DVR playback and as of January it measures several levels of time-shifted viewing, including live-plus-same-day all the way up to live-plus-seven-day viewing.

But media buyers say this information still isn't enough because it doesn't track how many viewers are fast-forwarding through commercials on DVR-recorded programs.

Nielsen will begin issuing commercial ratings next month that will partially remedy this. Buyers note these will be based on average commercial-minute ratings within a program, however, not specific commercials.

TiVo's Stop||Watch gets closer to actual commercial ratings.

This information will help buyers estimate the number of viewers fast-forwarding through commercials, but it will not replace Nielsen ratings as the currency used in negotiations. TiVo's sample is too small for that and doesn't necessarily reflect how people using other DVRs record and playback programs.

This is not designed to replace Nielsen ratings, says Sternberg. [It's] more to help us better understand how Nielsen's measurement methodology needs to change. And while not representative of the entire country, 20,000 TiVo homes is a more robust sample than the number of DVR homes currently in Nielsen's national sample.

post #115 of 93854
Originally Posted by ion-man View Post

Guess I'm in the minority who will actually miss Raines

Same here. Wife and I have really started to like this show. When I saw how bad it was doing in the ratings I just new it because any new show I like gets cancelled.

But to put the show on Friday night when nobody is watching and up against Numbers? They just wanted to kill it.

Should have given it a chance after Heroes or teamed it up with Medium or something.

Oh well, another good show down the drain and more reality drival on it's way.
post #116 of 93854

I like the way you have the first post now with the past 2 days ratings. I'd love it if you can keep doing that because it seems I always miss a day and then I miss the ratings. The last 2 days in the post would be excellent.

post #117 of 93854
Thread Starter 
Monday's metered market over-night prime-time ratings - and Media Week Analyst Marc Berman's view of what they mean -- have been posted at the top of Ratings News the second post in this thread.
post #118 of 93854
Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

Monday's metered market over-night prime-time ratings - and Media Week Analyst Marc Berman's view of what they mean -- have been posted at the top of Ratings News the second post in this thread.

Ouch, looks like "Heroes" took a tumble off its pedestal and came in third behind the CBS sitcoms and ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" (but ahead of "24" and The CW). I still can't believe how many top-rated shows are crammed into the 9PM Monday time slot (including the WWE cable show on USA), and how The CW's schedule can survive the slaughter with anything remotely resembling a good rating.
post #119 of 93854
Thread Starter 
The Business of Television
Cox TV Stratgey for Gain Without Pain
Local HD News A Key
The key to success is to arrive at the market with the product at the very moment customers arrive with the demand, says the head of the TV group. That's why it's taking the lead in local HD news, with WSOC Charlotte this week becoming the group's fourth station to offer the service.

By Harry Jessell TVNEWSDAY April 24, 2007

Cox Television President Andy Fisher readily acknowledges that he works for a conservative companyone that avoids techno-fads and the bleeding edge of innovation.

So the fact that the station group has established itself as a pioneer in local HD news should signal to all broadcasters that it's a service whose time has definitely come.

Just two days ago, WSOC Charlotte, N.C., became the fourth station in the 15-station Cox TV group to offer local HD news, and WPXI Pittsburgh is set to become the fifth this fall.

They join WFTV Orlando, Fla.; WSB Atlanta; and KTVU San Francisco.

In this interview with TVNEWSDAY Editor Harry A. Jessell, Fisher shares his enthusiasm for HD news.

An edited transcript follows.

What's the Cox Television strategy?

Well, it's kind of unromantic. First of all, at the station level, we want to have the best ratings we can get and the best people marketing that product to our advertisers. We want to have the very best digital array we can offer, an integrated package so advertisers can reach their customers lots of different ways all through the day and all through the night.

Also, we want to keep exploring other ways to use this digital signal. At Cox, we are, by nature, realists. We've tended not to be on the bleeding edge. Personally, I am a techno lover, but what I always want to do is spend the owner's money wisely. That means we want to be there when the viewer is about to be there. We have not been terribly interested in spending a ton of money on things the viewer has no idea about yet.

We want to maintain the health of the mother ship, but we are not concerned about competing with ourselves on the Web or in mobile applications. And what we can do is work with the other broadcasters as opportunities present themselves to see if there is a market among both consumers and advertisers.

Our signal really is a nice little pathway. That high-speed pipe in the air has tremendous potential.

Cox has taken a leadership role on local HD news. How come?

We think that HD is spectacular. It is more than just a nicer picture; it really is breathtaking. We think that it is a real value to the consumer who has bought that big set and wants to use every square inch of it.

It's an expensive transition process on the local level. We've been broadcasting the network pass-throughs for a long time, but converting plants and buying the appropriate equipment for the actual local production of HD is obviously a big task.

[b]I know that you are building an entirely new facility for WPXI Pittsburgh, and that you hope to have it in operation by Labor Day. I assume that will be the next to go HD?

That is correct.

Given your experience with local HD, let me ask you this: Does HD do enough for you in the marketplace to justify accelerating your purchase of equipment to get there sooner than you normally would?

That's a great question. I do not believe that you can find significant ratings differences based purely on HD. I think that it's simply one of those items that burnishes a station's image and may reward loyal viewers and give other viewers a reason to check you out

We as an industry do well when we embrace the next thing. We waste a lot of time when we get sucked into fads, but HD is not a fad. HD is how news will look to everyone as time progresses.

As an experienced broadcaster, you look at some things and you know that's how it's going to look. And once you realize that and if you're at a station that wants a leadership role, you do it even though it may not change the ratings that minute.

It's the ante for the future. If you want to sit at the table, you've got to fill the screen.

Do you think your stations and other stations have to go HD by the DTV transition deadline in 2009?

No. That date would not be of significance to us. I don't know whether they'll all be done before then. There is always the catch: the earlier a station converts, the sooner it will have to be redone.

My view is you do an intelligent roll out. The smaller the market, the more you want the equipment to really be standard and not to be a generation that's going to be fairly quickly replaced.

In some of the smaller markets, it's an expense that we may conclude we should hold off on. The money for the camera is the same whether you're using it in market 150 or market 1. It's a greater expense proportionately in smaller places to start outfitting the local folks.

I know that Cox Enterprises, your parent company, is of two minds on retransmission consent because it owns TV stations and cable systems. But what's your thinking on retransmission consent payments?

As a broadcaster, I believe that our local signals have value and that it is then up to local negotiations to determine what that value is. Beyond that, it is not a subject on which I'm going to wax poetically.

Can I read into that answer that you would seek value in the form of cash?

I'm afraid I can't let you read anything into it. When we have come to the table with any of the cable and satellite companies, we believe there is value and we have been very pleased to come to a mutually acceptable bargain.

Let me shift to Washington on that same front. The cable industry is trying to water down broadcasters' retrans rights. NAB, of course, is trying to preserve them. Do you support the NAB's efforts to maintain the status quo on retrans rules?

I leave it to the trade associations and those who wish to speak publicly to express their points of view, but, at the moment, I am simply not speaking publicly on this particular issue.

post #120 of 93854
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by bonscott87 View Post


I like the way you have the first post now with the past 2 days ratings. I'd love it if you can keep doing that because it seems I always miss a day and then I miss the ratings. The last 2 days in the post would be excellent.


Thanks to you for checking in, bonscott. I keep tinkering with the format.

For the moment, I'll probably leave the weekend ratings up through Monday, and then leave them up two days at a time during the week.

But I would love to encourage you -- and others -- NOT to miss a day!
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