Thursday, January 1st, 2009



Cyn
opsis: Year in Review 2008


01/01/09

Happy New Year!  It’s Thursday, January 1, 2009, and before we begin the New Year in earnest, here’s a look back at 2008 …

This was a year of significant highs and lows.  The highs included a history making election night; some of the funniest SNL sketches seen in years; Michael Phelps at the Olympics, HBO’s John Adams miniseries and AMC’s Mad Men; Billy Crystal on the roster for one day as a Yankee and the group hosting debacle at the Emmys (so low it became a high!).  Low’s include the WGA strike and the pending potential SAG strike; the fire at Universal Studios; the loss of so many jobs and of course the loss of so many loved ones. 

This year began in the throes of the writers’ strike, the effect of which was felt throughout the year. It was the year of shows jumping networks – Scrubs to ABC, Beauty and the Geek to MTV, repeats of Jericho filling in on The CW’s Sunday night lineup – cable shows being scheduled on broadcast networks (filling WGA holes); a wildly entertaining political and athletic year; a particularly litigious year – Project Runway, FCC indecency rulings, Dan Rather’s fraud suit, and the NFL Network discrimination complaint.  And it was a year that ended really poorly financially, with numerous staff and expense cuts announced in 4th quarter.

Here’s the run down, and when you get to the bottom, raise your glass to what we’ve learned this year, and how we’ll use it to make 2009 that much better.

THE NETWORKS:

  • Dick Wolf and NBC Universal in talks with ITV and Kudos Films to develop a Law & Order: London
  • Canadian CTV acquired both conventional and specialty channel broadcast rights to the AMC series Mad Men
  • With few new shows available as result of the strike, CBS airs Showtime series Dexter in primetime
  • ABC brought back The Mole from Stone & Co., not with either Anderson Cooper or Ahmad Rashad, but with a new host – Jon Kelley
  • People’s Choice Awards were announced in a magazine style format special on CBS
  • Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Communications revealed plans to create a new multi-platform media venture, OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network
  • Jeff Zucker announced the network would no longer order up pilots as a matter of course each year leading into the upfront season, thereby saving the network tens of millions of dollars
  • Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (TBS, Inc.) and NASCAR extended their contract for Turner Sports to continue operating NASCAR.com through 2014
  • Discovery Times Channel became Investigation Discovery (ID)
  • FCC fined 52 ABC affiliates $1.4 million for airing a brief nude scene contained in a 2003 NYPD Blue episode
  • The Ski Channel made a long-term distribution partnership deal with Cox Communications. The agreement puts The Ski Channel on all Cox VOD enabled systems, and the added subscribers will put the network in at least 13 million cable households. The network launched on Christmas Day
  • NBC picked up a new CTV original drama, The Listener (wt), the second time in a week that a CTV-developed Canadian series has been picked up for broadcast in primetime by a major U.S. network (CBS announced last week it picked up the CTV series Flashpoint)
  • Sunday’s Super Bowl XLII on FOX was the most-watched Super Bowl game in 42 years of Super Bowls and also ranks as the second most-watched program in TV history with 97.5 million viewer .. and the NY Giants win!
  • NBC’s coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics rolls out on 8-08-08 – in the weeks leading up to the event, tensions ran high between local organizers of the Beijing Olympics and the broadcasters, with varying complaints ranging from excessive security imposed by the Chinese government to potentially limited or no live coverage in Tiananmen Square … a couple of months later you’ll remember that NBC opened its Opening Night of the Summer Games live from Tiananamen Square
  • A&E ordered its first original scripted drama series in more than six years with Cleaner starring Benjamin Bratt
  • MSG Media will rebrand FSN New York (FSNY) as MSG Plus
  • In March, NBC was looking at a pilot project starring Christian Slater in what would be his first television series … you remember how that turned out
  • HBO Films and Playtone’s John Adams … magnificent
  • CBS told producers on the drama Jericho in mid-March that the next airing of the show will be it’s final episode …. repeats of it show up on The CW schedule in 4th qtr
  • NBC announced its upfront slate yesterday with a theme to each hour of primetime – 8p is the family hour; 9p is the blockbuster hour; and 10p are adult dramas.  Also the amount of reality shows is fairly limited from the fall thru into spring 2009
  • MSG Network will introduce MSG at the Movies, adding films to its programming lineup
  • Discovery Communications debuts Planet Green, its 24-hour eco-lifestyle television network on June 4
  • “Katie Couric may leave her post as CBS Evening News anchor before her contract is up in 2011” …. Les Moonves shoots down that rumor pretty quickly
  • After airing only one episode Tuesday night, CBS cancelled the reality competition series Secret Talents of the Stars … apparently nobody really cared what those secret talents might be
  • Documentary Channel (DOC) made an exclusive deal with IMAX Corporation to broadcast 21 films from the IMAX library on DOC
  • Viacom and three studios, Lionsgate, MGM, and Paramount Pictures, are joining forces to launch a new pay-TV channel, still unnamed, in the fall of 2009. The new channel will be steeped with online and VOD elements and will be headquartered at Viacom’s Times Square offices. This gives MGM and Lionsgate, which are not associated with a TV network, ownership stake in a TV channel … it will be called Epix … scheduled to launch in 4th Qtr 2009
  • April 2008 – NBC’s drama series pickup The Philanthropist has lost his two key showrunners – Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson have parted ways with NBC on this project as a result of creative issues on the direction of the show. But no worries — comes December they’ll be back.
  • Following the story that CBS Sports’ CSTV will become the CBS College Sports Network, and CSTV’s online properties will be incorporated into the new network, came the news of as many as 40 job cuts within CSTV
  • NBC and MTV are partnering on a promotional stunt where both networks will premiere the original drama series quarterlife from Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick on the same day … After a single airing on NBC, Quarterlife was pulled off the air
  • Numerous reports peg Jimmy Fallon to take over the NBC Late Night hosting gig starting 2009, as Conan O’Brien moves to host the Tonight Show following Jay Leno’s retirement from the late night gig … and then …. Leno will go to 10p in Fall; Conan steps into Tonight Show and Fallon does get the NBC Late Night gig
  • The CW replaces its M-F Kids WB animation block with syndicated fare from Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution … and The CW will sublet Sunday nights to Media Rights Council who will program the entire evening from 5-10p with four new series, at least until that deal is cancelled in 4th qtr because the programming isn’t working
  • Production of Emeril’s show on Food Network is coming to a close, airing only repeats going forward … Fine Living Network picks up the series, airing Emeril live nightly     Fox announces The Simpsons will be back for another season before talent agreements are in place – cast is looking to be upped from $360k per ep to $500k … eventually they settle at $400k
  • CBS and Turner swapped promo time on each other’s schedules as part of a non-cash marketing arrangement
  • Samuel L. Jackson made a first-look two-year pact with CBS Paramount Network TV to develop and executive producer projects for television … network signs similar deal with Laurence Fishburne who later turns up with a regular role on CSI
  • Broadcast upfront take is $9.23 billion up 1.2% from last year’s total of $9.12 billion
  • After buying a major chunk of World Champion Sports Network, NBC Universal will re-launch the network on Thursday with a new name – Universal Sports
  • Showtime Networks Inc. and The Weinstein Company (TWC) made a seven-year exclusive film distribution pact that encompasses up to 95 films which takes effect with TWC’s 2009 release schedule
  • Ryan Seacrest will be the permanent co-host of ABC’s Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve which will now be called Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest
  • BET debuted its first scripted TV series, Somebodies on September 9 at 1030p with two half-hour episodes
  • As the CW Network prepares to launch the first of its new fall shows tonight, Tribune owned CW affiliates in some cities have been busy stripping “CW” out of its marketing plan
  • Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews pulled from MSNBC’s election coverage, David Gregory steps in
  • Faith & Values Media changed its name to Odyssey Networks
  • Ad-supported MOJO HD shuttered by its distributor, InDemand
  • In a memo to staff members on Friday, NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker said the company will carve $500 million out of the 2009 budget.  Recommended cuts: promotional expenses; reduced T&E expenses, and staff
  • Days later, ABC News President David Westin made a similar move announcing there would be a series of financial considerations made, including cutting back on attendance at conferences, elimination of all holiday parties, cancelling paper subscriptions, as well as asking high level execs to fly in cheaper seats, and stay at cheaper hotels
  • BET Networks and The Weinstein Company are working together for the first time on a four-movie deal 
  • With the news King of the Hill will not be renewed on Fox for another season, comes word ABC may be interested in picking up the animated sitcom
  • Retirement Living TV (RLTV) and NBC News are co-producing season three of Daily Cafe, the 60m live news and current affairs program
  • Whoopi Goldberg’s production company Whoop Inc. signed a development agreement with Discovery Communications’ Emerging Networks Group
  • At the end of this season, FOX is shuttering its Saturday late-night comedy sketch show Mad TV after 14 seasons
  • NBC made a commitment with Sony Pictures Television to keep 43-year old daytime soap Days of Our Lives on the air for another 18 months
  • ESPN and the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) announced a firm four-year agreement was settled between the two, allowing ESPN to have exclusive TV, radio, digital, international and marketing rights for 15 BCS bowl games beginning January 2011
  • Beauty and the Geek, formerly on The CW, will find a new home on MTV as the network picked up six episodes and may option for more cycles of the reality series
  • The CW announced it is cancelling its Sunday night time-buy agreement with Media Rights Capital
  • In a rather strange move, Food Network is bringing back Robert Irvine former star of Dinner: Impossible to star again in the same show.  You’ll recall Irvine was fired once it was discovered he over-spiced his resume
  • Fox is ditching its Saturday morning kids block altogether and will replace it with infomercials come January 2009
  • NBC will be moving Jay Leno to 10p on weeknights starting Fall 2009
  • Creator/executive producer Marc Cherry of ABC’s Desperate Housewives is talking with the network about extending the series through a seventh season
  • Rainbow Media Holdings decides to shutter the majority of the 15 VOOM HD networks and lets go numerous employees        

COURT FILINGS:

  • ABC filed an appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit against the FCC. The point of contention is a 2003 NYPD Blue episode that the FCC declared indecent and on Tuesday fined ABC a total of $1,237,500 for the 45 affiliates that aired the program
  • FCC threw out an appeal from News Corp.’s Fox Television division to overturn an indecency rule involving an April 2003 episode of Married by America which featured male and female strippers
  • The ongoing feud between InterActiveCorp CEO Barry Diller and John Malone, controlling shareholder of Liberty Media, may have some resolution on March 28 as the Delaware Chancery Court Judge Stephen Lamb will rule if Diller violated his proxy agreement after both sides present briefs … in late March the court battle between IAC/InterActiveCorp and Liberty Media reached a verdict two weeks after the five-day trial concluded in Wilmington, DE. Judge Stephen Lamb of the Delaware Chancery Court ruled in favor of IAC’s chairman Barry Diller and his plan to spin-off IAC into five separate entities
  • FOX refused to pay the FCC’s proposed $91,000 fine leveled against 13 FOX owned and affiliated stations that aired an episode of Married by America in 2003 which contained pixilated nudity. The FCC issued the forfeiture order on February 22, giving FOX 30 days to pay. FOX instead filed a petition for reconsideration saying the commission’s ruling was “arbitrary and capricious, inconsistent with precedent and patently unconstitutional.”
  • New York’s Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department reversed a judgment made in May 2007 which allowed Comcast to position the NFL Network on a sports tier.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal submitted by FOX and other networks against the FCC regarding the “fleeting broadcast profanity” case.
  • On April 5, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against eight FOX-owned or affiliated stations to collect indecency fines totaling $56,000 associated with a 2003 airing of Married by America. Additionally, the FCC rejected another appeal from FOX to have the fines revoked saying FOX failed to file a request to exceed the page limit of the petition at least 10 days prior to the filing
  • Fans of the reality competition series Project Runway will turn to Lifetime Television starting November 2008 as a result of a deal between Lifetime and The Weinstein Company …. wait for it …. NBC Universal filed a lawsuit in the New York Supreme Court against The Weinstein Company. NBC contains it had the right to meet or beat any offer by a competing network; Weinstein Co lawyers deny NBC had that right, and that NBC had turned down the same deal Weinstein Company ultimately struck with Lifetime
  • ABC announced it is appealing the FCC’s ruling and fines that center on a 2003 episode of NYPD Blue that, according to the FCC, violated indecency policies
  • The next round of countersuits have been filed in the Project Runway case.  Lifetime has filed naming The Weinstein Company, Bravo and NBC Universal as Defendants, suing for the exclusive rights to the hit show, and is asking a federal court to intervene
  • Many of the claims filed by Dan Rather in a $70 million lawsuit last September against the CBS Corporation were dismissed by Judge Ira Gammerman of the New York Supreme Court. The judge rejected Rather’s claim of fraud in addition to his assertion that the network made him the scapegoat involving the bru-ha-ha surrounding the 60 Minutes II use of controversial papers in the story about President Bush’s National Guard service in the 1970s
  • Clear Channel filed a complaint on Friday with the Delaware Chancery Court against Newport Television, an affiliate of Providence Equity Partners, to order Newport to complete the $1.2 billion buyout of Clear Channel’s television stations
  • The NFL Network filed a discrimination complaint to the FCC against the Comcast Corp alleging Comcast violated federal law pertaining to equal treatment requirements
  • VOOM HD has filed an amended complaint against Echostar, amended since its original complaint filed at the beginning of the calendar year.  The new version includes 100 counts against Dish Network, claiming the satellite provider wrongly removed the 15-network VOOM HD suite of channels from its service and claiming Dish has raised numerous “baseless” reasons how Voom violated their agreement
  • Thirteen of the direct and indirect affiliates of Pappas Telecasting Companies filed for Chapter 11 protection in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware
  • Apparently confident after its oral arguments in the FOX profanity appeal case, the FCC, with support from the Department of Justice, filed a petition for a writ of certiorari last Wednesday, asking the Supreme Court to overturn the CBS Janet Jackson Super Bowl halftime show decision
  • New York Supreme Court Judge Richard Lowe ordered a preliminary injunction opposing The Weinstein Co. (TWC), blocking them from moving the reality series Project Runway from Bravo to Lifetime Television, at least for the time being
  • The Tribune Company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a federal court in Delaware

WGA STRIKE:

  • The Late Show with David Letterman and Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson to return on-air despite the ongoing WGA strike at the start of ’08
  • Jay Leno runs afoul of the WGA as he writes his own monologue
  • NBC chooses to move forward with the Golden Globes even tho numerous A List actors say they won’t cross the picket line – rethinking that decision, NBC a couple of days later announces Golden Globe Awards telecast will be replaced with a one hour news conference
  • Jan 11 Strike Update:  Weinstein & Co. have signed an interim deal with WGA; The WGA West Awards dinner cancelled; CBS News and WGA arrived at a tentative agreement
  • Three days later, ABC Studios became the first television studio to utilize its force majeure clause and end the contracts of nearly thirty writers and non-writing producers; the next days several other studios follow suit: Warner Bros. Television, CBS Paramount Network TV, 20th Century Fox TV and Universal Media Studios
  • WGA signs independent deals with MRC, Spyglass Entertainment, United Artists and Worldwide Pants, Marvel Studios, Lionsgate, Jackson Bites, Mandate Films, Sydney Kimmel Entertainment, RKO Productions
  • Citing the on-going writers strike, NBC Universal may decide to cancel its annual upfront presentation
  • The Board of Directors of the WGA, West allowed an interim agreement for this year’s Grammy Awards in Los Angeles
  • Latest update in early February – a proposed deal could be drafted by week’s end
  • The writer’s strike which has shut down the TV and film production industry for more than three months is expected to officially end February 12th
  • Details include the WGA gaining ground with residuals for shows put online and jurisdiction over content created for online, but did not include jurisdiction over animation and reality product. As the networks rush back into production on some shows, it is expected that this current season will last until June and the Academy Awards show in its full form can be saved as well as a development season for next fall. 
  • ABC, CBS, CW and FOX, will all present traditional upfront shows. NBC remains a question mark, having said during the writers strike it may not go forward with a full blown upfront presentation this year
  • Girlfriends, a staple on UPN and now on The CW for 8 years, will call this season its last
  • On February 26, 2009, members of the WGA West and WGA East voted to ratify the new three-year contract by 93.6% of the 4,060 votes cast.
  • For years AFTRA and SAG negotiated in tandem with Hollywood producers and last weekend decided to sever this arrangement. AFTRA announced yesterday it will begin contract talks with producers on April 28. Furthermore, AFTRA will hold off on its negotiations with the AMPTP so SAG can hammer out its separate deals with the studios, as these talks are set to begin April 15.

SYNDICATION:

  • Debmar-Mercury:  Fox Television Stations and distributor Debmar-Mercury are co-producing a six-week preview of The Wendy Williams Show, set to debut July 14; obtained global distribution rights outside the U.K. for a game show format called Hot Seat developed by Standing Stone Productions; Debmar-Mercury obtained the premiere broadcast syndication rights to E!’s docu-series True Hollywood Story for a one-hour daily strip beginning fall 2009
  • WBDTD: Warner Bros. Television Group combined its two domestic television distribution units, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution and Warner Bros. Domestic Cable Distribution; Mario Lopez signed to host the daily syndicated entertainment magazine series Extra, upping his status from weekend host and correspondent; The Closer to weekend broadcast syndication for Fall 2010
  • MGM: Domestic television distribution unit brought Gladiators 2000, the kids competition series in off-network syndication with 39 episodes; MGM has launched THIS TV network, a 24/7 ad supported linear channel designed for the US broadcast marketplace and available to local broadcasters as a turn-key solution for generating revenue in the digital arena
  • CBS TV Distribution: Judge Judy plans to be around for at least two more years thru 2012; Will The Oprah Winfrey Show move to OWN and get out of syndication?  still up in the air; In development – syndicated talk show for fall 2009 hosted by T.D. Jakes, head of the non-denominational church the Potter’s House; Numb3rs and Criminal Minds offered for off-network weekend broadcast syndication starting fall 2010; The Doctors are in as and renewed for a sophomore se
  • Program Partners: Marie Osmond will host a new entertainment/lifestyle talk show for women; Program Partners will offer a new daytime syndication programming package called Daytime Plus to local television stations, giving them a choice of three original Monday-Friday strip programs: Merv Griffin’s Crosswords, Style by Jury and Inside the Box
  • NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution: Starting fall 2009, Law & Order: SVU for weekday runs in national syndication; NBC Local Media Division, NBC’s O&O stations group, cancelled the Chicago-based daytime show In the Loop With iVillage; Martha will return for a fifth season
  • Meredith Corporation aired a primetime special Better at Night based on the daytime show Better in nine Meredith markets
  • Sony Pictures Television: Harpo Productions is in development on a new talk show with Dr. Mehmet Oz for a probable fall 2009 debut … the distribution deal is eventually awarded to Sony; Marissa Jaret Winokur has been signed by Sony TV for a daytime TV syndication deal, possibly for Fall 2009
  • Disney-ABC Domestic Television: At The Movies will be getting two new critics/co-hosts when it debuts this fall on September 6, 2008 – Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz; Series Wizard’s First Rule (working title) has been renamed Legend of the Seeker
  • FOX’s game show Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? from Twentieth Television and Mark Burnett Productions, is expected to launch in national syndication in fall 2009
  • Tribune Broadcasting President Ed Wilson is reconsidering decision to get out of the syndication business. 
  • Entertainment Studios is partnering on a global scale with MySpace to provide content for ten branded original channels that will be found at MySpaceTV.com
  • Litton Entertainment is offering stations barter-free half-hour episodes of Storm Stories this summer; a new one-hour weekly syndicated variety series for Fall 2009: The Brian McKnight Show
  • A. Smith & Co. Productions will introduce another syndicated court show – Tough Justice With Judge Marian Shelton is expected to be made available later this year to the syndication market
  • Montel is shopping a new syndicated project called Living Well with Montel, based on a diet and lifestyle book published by Montel last January
  • The Daily Buzz, the three-hour nationally syndicated morning news program from ACME Communications, Inc., adds local component
  • Various talents were on the block for consideration of new syndicated fare … some of these will happen:
    • Food Network’s Paula Dean with Telepictures
    • Donald Trump for 20th
    • Former Senator Al D’Amato getting his own court show?
    • Janice Dickinson (who also has her own show on Oxygen)
    • Telepictures is reportedly looking at a daytime show based on the website MomLogic.com
    • Leah Remini may do a daytime show with CBS TV Distribution
    • Jesse Ventura is talking about a daytime court show with 20th TV … tho come September he signs with truTV for a new pilot
  • Acorn Media Group will manage the home video distribution of more than 30 of classic British mystery and drama titles from FremantleMedia Enterprises in the U.S. and Canada
  • FremantleMedia will present Katalyst Media’s new competition reality series True Beauty to international buyers at NATPE 2009
  • Telco Productions, Inc. will launch two new weekly programs for national syndication in September 2009: Dragonfly TV and Swap TV
  • Trifecta Entertainment & Media will bring MTV’s Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County and its spinoff The Hills to syndication

ACQUISITIONS & MERGERS:

  • The Weather Channel is seeking a buyer …. and later gets it from NBC Universal, Bain Capital and The Blackstone Group who entered into an agreement with Landmark Communications Young Broadcasting Inc. hired financial advisors Moelis & Company to help with the sale of television station, KRON/San Francisco
  • CBS Corporation completed the sale of television stations in four markets to Four Points Media Group, LLC for $185 million in cash.
  • CBS Corporation will purchase CNET Networks, Inc., making a cash tender offer of $11.50 per share which equates to an equity value of around $1.8 billion.
  • LATV Networks, LLC acquired American Latino TV (ALTV)
  • Prime Visibility Media Group purchased two online companies, AdOn Network and Prime Visibility and has formed a new division, PV Media Group as a result. Leading this new division and its senior management team as CEO will be Steve Rosenberg
  • Sage Broadcasting will sell its remaining broadcast television stations to new TV station group owner Bayou City Broadcasting
  • The Nielsen Company made an investment in NeuroFocus, a Berkeley, CA-based company that applies brainwave research to advertising, programming and messaging
  • The Nielsen Company has acquired the privately-held New York-based company IAG Research, Inc. for $225 million
  • Nielsen and WPP formed an agreement to exchange specific assets: Nielsen gets 50% of AGBNielsen Media Research from WPP; WPP gets SRDS, PERQ/HCI and an 11% share in IBOPE PDM, IBOPE LA and IMI.com
  • Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. acquires the media and licensed properties of Emeril Lagasse for $45 million in cash and $5 million in stock
  • Reed Elsevier is selling its Reed Business Information magazine unit that includes media and entertainment industry titles Variety, Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and Publisher’s Weekly.
  • Liberty Media gets FCC okay on takeover of DirecTV
  • NBC Universal’s Local Media unit purchased the marketing and promotional assets of Skycastle Entertainment
  • NBC Universal is seeking buyers for two of its television affiliates that comprise the NBC Local Media Division. WTVJ/Miami and WVIT/Hartford are for sale as the company concentrates on the top 10 markets and its group of digital properties.
  • NBC Universal is expected to sell its affiliate, WTVJ/Miami to the Post-Newsweek Stations group. The deal, with FCC approval pending, would allow Post-Newsweek Stations to operate the stations as a duopoly.
  • NBC Universal will purchase U.K. independent production company, Carnival Film & Television Ltd
  • Media General announced it is selling its ABC affiliate WTVQ/Lexington to Morris Network for an undisclosed amount
  • Media General sold ABC affiliate WMBB/Panama City and KALB-NALB/Alexandria which is a dual NBC/CBS outlet to Hoak Media
  • Just four years after the Lord of the Rings film trilogy brought in over a billion dollars into the coffers of New Line Cinema the forty-year old independent film company will be taken over by Warner Bros. and become a much smaller entity.
  • Macrovision Solutions Corporation is selling the TV Guide Network and TV Guide Online to Allen Shapiro and One Equity Partners for approximately $255 million in consideration, subject to a working capital adjustment at closing
  • Crown Media Holdings, Inc., owner and operator of Hallmark Channel, says it’s no longer on the auction block
  • Clear Channel Communications finalized the sale of its television group of 56 TV stations, to Newport Television, a holding company for Providence Equity Partners. The $1.1 billion transaction is approximately $200 million less than the terms of the original deal negotiated a year ago
  • The Justice Department okayed the merger of XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio
  • Meredith Corporation completed the sale of WFLI/Chattanooga to MPS Media. Terms were not disclosed
  • Endemol USA has purchased 51 Minds Entertainment
  • Equity Media Holdings Corporation’s subsidiary, EBC Southwest Florida, Inc. will sell five Southwest Florida low power and Class A televisions stations to Luken Communications, LLC. The $8 million transaction includes stations WUVF-CA, WLZE-LP, WBSP-CA, WEVU-CA and WTLE-LP.
  • Little Rock-based Equity Media Holdings, which revealed its financial difficulties in April, sold Retro Television Network to Luken Communications for $18.5 million
  • Wisconsin-based TV-49, Inc. just completed the sale of WJJA/Milwaukee, an independent station to Illinois-based The Weigel Broadcasting Corporation
  • Selling the last of its 16 television stations, Emmis Communications Corp. announced WVUE/New Orleans, the FOX affiliate, was sold to Louisiana Media Co. for $41 million
  • Sundance Channel will join IFC, AMC, WE tv and the VOOM HD networks, as one of the Rainbow Media networks under Cablevision Systems Corp.  The acquisition will cost Cablevision $496 million in stock and cash; Larry Aidem to Pres/CEO of Sundance, as President of Rainbow Ventures, reporting to Joshua Sapan, Pres/CEO of Rainbow Media
  • Newport Television, LLC based in Kansas sold four television stations to Washington-based Cowles Company
  • Cablevision officially swooped in to acquire 97% of Newsday from Tribune in a deal valued at $650 million
  • Davis Television finalized the sale of its television station WVFX/Clarksburg to Withers Broadcasting Companies of Illinois.
  • Time Warner will go ahead and sell its remaining 85% ownership stake in Time Warner Cable, a transaction equaling approximately $9 billion that is expected to be complete fourth quarter 2008
  • Cyrte Investments acquired Spitfire Pictures which will merge with U.K. studio Hammer to form the new worldwide entertainment group called HS Media.
  • ESPN will acquire Torrance, CA-based Student Sports, Inc., a high school-targeted digital media and event production company
  • Don Cornelius sold the Soul Train franchise to MadVision Entertainment, Inc., a multimedia company that concentrates on urban content and production founded by Kenard Gibbs, Peter Griffith and Anthony Maddox and supported by private equity firm InterMedia Partners, L.P
  • Raycom Media Inc. finalized the purchase of three television stations from Lincoln Financial Group: NBC affiliate WWBT/Richmond and the CBS affiliates WBTV/Charlotte and WCSC/Charleston.
  • Raycom Media is selling WTVR/Richmond to Sinclair Broadcast Group for $85 million
  • Journal Communications, Inc., parent company to Journal Broadcast Group, Inc and Journal Broadcast Corporation signed an asset purchase deal to buy KNIN/Boise from Banks-Boise for $8 million
  • An application has been filed with the FCC for the sale of KVNV-TV of Ely, NV from Valley Broadcasting Company a subsidiary of Sunbelt Communications Company to Concord, NH-based PMCM TV, LLC
  • Cookie Jar Entertainment has officially closed on its merger transaction with DIC Entertainment Holdings, Inc.
  • The FCC has approved the buyout by Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. of XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc., for $3.5 billion
  • Weigel Broadcast Co. is selling its three low-power television stations in the South Bend, Indiana market to WSBT, Inc., an operating unit of Schurz Communications, Inc., also based in South Bend.

NEW MEDIA BUSINESS DECISIONS:

  • The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and the Directors Guild of America (DGA) forged an agreement which allows industry creative talent to participate financially in all areas of new media
  • ABC New Media Sales signed a deal with PumpTop TV, a digital media network with screens at gas pumps currently in several West Coast markets
  • To promote the network’s newest primetime series, for the first time HBO will stream the first 15 episodes of In Treatment on its website, HBO.com as well as on HBO On Demand
  • CBS Interactive is dusting off some classic TV shows from the CBS Library and initially offering full-length episodes of Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, MacGyver, Hawaii Five-O and Melrose Place. Distribution will occur across the CBS Audience Network which is comprised of more than 300 websites and partners
  • MySpace TV has ordered up a hidden camera series called Special Delivery where special delivery folks get the candid camera routine.
  • TLC and Real Simple are teaming to develop multi-media lifestyle content for various platforms including television, print, radio, online and in-store events
  • Citing affiliate and viewer demand, Scripps Networks will simulcast the standard-definition and hi-def feeds of HGTV and Food Network to cable and satellite affiliates starting March 31
  • NBC Universal and LimeLife, Inc. are bringing fans of the long-running NBC series Law & Order a new mobile game version called Law & Order: Celebrity Betrayal
  • NBC will debut the anthology series Fear Itself on May 29 at 10p, produced by Lionsgate. The show will also debut on the FEARnet website and VOD on September 1st, Labor Day, with a new episode available for viewing each week. The episodes will also contain extra footage including chats with directors and scenes not shown on the NBC series
  • ESPN and AOL are teaming to offer ESPN.com video content through AOL Video and AOL Sports
  • A new interactive project for the digital age that knows from internet dating sites. The project is from FremantleMedia’s new-media division FMX and Heavy.com, called LoveRace
  • Multi-platform media company The Italian American Network debuted several on-demand webisode series shot in hi-def at www.ItalianAmericanNetwork.com
  • CBS made a pact with Google-owned YouTube to have many of its TV programs available on the video-sharing site in full-length form
  • Fox Reality Channel introduces the first Apple iPhone mobile service offering reality-only content
  • LIN TV is rolling out an interactive TV test involving a few hundred viewers next month which will possibly offer a bridge between television and the web. LIN TV is teaming with Boston-based Backchannelmedia and launching the test on its WTNH-WCTX/Hartford-New Haven duopoly and potentially later on its 29-station group if the trial does well
  • DISH Network Corporation and Rentrack Corporation formed a relationship where Rentrack will report the measurement from millions of DISH Network set-top boxes offering click-stream television data

THE SUBLIME TO THE RIDICULOUS, AND ALL IN BETWEEN:

  • The Golf Channel suspended its first female anchor Kelly Tilghman for two weeks after she made an inappropriate comment that put Tiger Woods and the word “lynch” in the same sentence.
  • Viewers of WHNT in Huntsville, Alabama who were watching the first segment of 60 Minutes may have initially thought something funny was going on, but it turns out it truly was a technical glitch with the satellite receiver.  The opening story was about former Democratic Governor of Alabama, Don Siegelman and his conviction on bribery charges, and the potential involvement of a former Bush administrative official.  The segment lasted 13 minutes, and the station outage lasted 12. 
  • After learning that one of its chefs had garnished his resume as nicely as some of his dinner plates, the Food Network made the quick decision to not renew chef Robert Irvine’s show at the end of the current season.
  • A-Team … the movie?  Yep — set to be released on June 12, 2009
  • If you heard rumors that NBC’s The Celebrity Apprentice is considering bringing in OJ Simpson as one of the players, you heard wrong. NBC says it has never considered OJ … and just a few months after this news, OJ was sentenced to several years in jail.  Probably just as well NBC didn’t sign him for Celebrity Apprentice.
  • Have you heard of the “new TV series” from director David Nutter called Scarlet?  Have you tried to figure out who is carrying the new series and when?  And all you’ve been able to find out is the website ScarletSeries.tv, right?  Well, the secret behind Scarlet has been revealed.  It’s not a “new TV series” the way you think – it’s a new model series of super-slim flat screen TVs from LG Electronics.
  • Twenty-five outfits worn by James Gandolfini in HBO’s The Sopranos were sold at a Christie’s charity auction yesterday which raised $187,750 for Wounded Warrior Project
  • Jerry Seinfeld is returning to television!  Okay, not in a series or even a special, but as a spokesman for Microsoft … for a very short period of time.
  • SCI FI Channel auctions off costumes, pieces of the set and props of Battlestar Galactica
  • Guess who’s hawking Mastercard now?  Oooooohhhhh nooooo … Mr. Bill!

etc …

  • The WWE released a statement late yesterday that WWE Smackdown will continue on The CW until the end of the current broadcast season, but after that, the show is up for grabs again … later it goes to MyNetwork
  • And the Oscar goes to …
    • Best Picture: No Country for Old Men
    • Best Director: No Country for Old Men
    • Best Actress in a Leading Role:  Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose
    • Best Actor in a Leading Role: Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood
    • Best Supporting Actress: Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton
    • Best Supporting Actor:  Javier Barden in No Country for Old Men
  • Citing a lack of “sufficient client commitments,” The Nielsen Company and Arbitron Inc. have ended the development of “Project Apollo,” the proposed single-source national research service.
  • Generate, a production and management studio, has secured its first round of funding in the amount of $6 million, from Velocity Interactive Group, and from MK Capital.  Generate also named former WB CEO Jordan Levin as its new CEO.
  • IFC Entertainment, a subsidiary of Rainbow Media Holdings LLC made a two-year pact with Blockbuster Inc., giving Blockbuster the exclusive U.S. rental rights for IFC movie titles
  • AARP has launched AARP TV, a franchise to create original lifestyle and news programming for boomers and persons 50+
  • Billy Crystal was on the roster for the New York Yankees for Thursday’s preseason telecast of the Yankees versus Pittsburgh Pirates game on the YES Network
  • Creative Television Marketing launched a national television syndication ad sales service and its first client is representing Telco Productions’ syndicated barter inventory
  • The FCC’s 700-Megahertz wireless spectrum auction closed Tuesday and accumulated nearly $19.6 billion in total bids for 754 total spectrum licenses
  • Tribune-owned KSWB, the long-standing WB and now The CW affiliate, will switch its affiliation at the end of August 2008 to Fox
  • After being held hostage for two months in Iraq, a British freelance journalist, Richard Butler, was rescued yesterday (April 14, 2008) and appeared in good condition. Richard was working for CBS’ 60 Minutes and was grabbed with a translator in Basra on February 10. CBS News did not release any further information.
  • GroupM Entertainment and Ogilvy North America are teaming on a new venture which will create and distribute branded entertainment content for the mutual clients shared by both entities which include American Express, IBM and particular brands under Unilever
  • Seth MacFarlane, creator of Family Guy on FOX, sealed an overall deal with 20th Century Fox TV that could be worth more than $100 million making him the highest paid TV writer/producer
  • Ever wonder why William Tell had to shoot an arrow through an apple on his son’s head? A new epic film, The Adventures of William Tell, produced Tell Productions, Ltd. with Fred Caruso and D. Constantine Conte as producers, will finally tell the full story of the Swiss hero
  • FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME) made a pact with BermanBraun and Thom Beers’ Original Productions to purchase several international television, home entertainment and format rights to four new shows on NBC’s 2008-2009 lineup: America’s Toughest Jobs, Swords and Shark Taggers plus a fourth series to be named later
  • Tribune Co. relaunched and renamed Superstation WGN … it’s now known as WGN America
  • Broadcast Cable Financial Management Association will change its name to Media Financial Management Association.
  • As of April 30, 2008, Nielsen reports that on a national level 9.4% of U.S. households are completely unready for the DTV transition … by year’s end the number of households no ready are estimated at 7 million
  • A massive fire at the Universal Studios lot destroyed thousands of film reels and videos television shows, as well as the streetscape set from the clock tower square set from Back to the Future, the King Kong exhibit, two other streetscapes – one from NYC and the other from “New England” – were also destroyed
  • Integrated media and marketing services agency Carat will extend its Carat Exchange, a forum that was initially designed to cover topics only related to digital television
  • After withdrawing its support in 2004, ExxonMobil will resume as sponsor for specific PBS national programs
  • After 22 years with Twentieth Century Fox TV, David E. Kelley made a three-year exclusive development and production pact with Warner Bros. Television. The agreement will have Kelley develop new television programming produced in association under the banners of Warner Bros. Television or Warner Horizon Television
  • All of the four daily editions of Cynopsis are now available as RSS feeds
  • Microsoft and independent production company BermanBraun are partnering to co-develop new entertainment content and integrated advertising and marketing opportunities for MSN
  • Tensions are running high between local organizers of the Beijing Olympics and the broadcasters, with varying complaints ranging excessive security imposed by the Chinese government to potentially limited or no live coverage in Tiananmen Square … a couple of months later you’ll remember that NBC opened its Opening Night of the Summer Games live from Tiananamen Square
  • Once the President of the United States gig didn’t work out, Mike Huckabee signed on to Fox News Channel’s America’s Election HQ program as a regular contributor
  • Nielsen reported through its Nielsen Monitor-Plus service that advertising spending in the first quarter of this year is virtually flat compared to first quarter 2007
  • Little Rock-based Equity Media Holdings Corp. announced it would stop producing local newscasts in six of its markets. The Spanish language newscasts were produced from Little Rock and aired on Univision affiliates in Fayetteville-Ft. Smith, Salt Lake City, Detroit, Oklahoma City, Amarillo and Fort Myers
  • Old TV shows reportedly making a come back: The Gong Show (Comedy Central), Newlywed Game and The Dating Game (again) to GSN, and the Match Game (GSN), The Prisoner (AMC), Hawaii 5-O (CBS), This is Your Life, V (ABC)
  • Discovery Communications and Blockbuster Inc. formed a partnership where nonfiction series and programs from Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, TLC, Discovery Kids and The Military Channel will be sold in more than 2,500 participating Blockbuster stores nationwide
  • MTV changed its mind and will now accept political ads for this year’s presidential elections
  • Alan Rosenberg, President of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) maintains SAG is willing to negotiate a new deal with Hollywood producers, even though the clock is ticking quickly on the current SAG contract, set to expire at midnight on June 30th
  • After ten years, Regency Television, a joint venture of New Regency and Fox TV Studios, is closing shop
  • Breakthrough Films & Television will expand its television movies division to include original development and production.   The company named Marina Cordoni as Head of Sales and Business Development, Theatrical & TV movies to oversee the division’s growing slate of in-house productions
  • Just as Tiger Woods is good for golf ratings, Michael Phelps is great for Olympic ratings.  As Phelps went for his historical 8th Gold Medal at the Beijing Olympics and his 14th Gold in his swimming career, NBC enjoyed its most viewed Saturday night in 18 years with 31.1 million tuning in, and jumping to 40 million during the half hour Phelps swam
  • Comcast Entertainment Group and Ryan Seacrest have expanded their working partnership with a new multi-year deal that allows Ryan Seacrest Productions to provide programming for Comcast’s stable of networks beyond E! and The Style Network including G4, Versus, Golf Channel, Exercise TV, FEARnet, Comcast Sportsnet and PBS Kids Sprout
  • According to Nielsen Media Research, the 16-day coverage (through August 23) of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games by NBC Universal reached 214 million viewers and has become the most viewed event in U.S. television history
  • The Cynopsis Foundation Inc. held its second annual Charity Dinner and Auction fundraiser and thanks to its Presenting Sponsor qubo, and Participating Sponsors A&E Television Network and Retirement Living TV, and guests from more than 40 industry organizations, the Foundation was able to raise more than $85,000, to be donated to this year’s recipient charities – Kids In Need and EarthEcho International.
  • The fourth and final night of the Democratic National Convention, featuring Presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama’s acceptance speech, drew in a combined total of 38.4 million total viewers from ten networks
  • Night three of the 2008 Republican National Convention per Nielsen featuring the acceptance speech of Vice Presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin, include a combined total viewer number of 37.2 million over six networks; and the fourth and final night of the Republican National Convention last Thursday, which featured Presidential nominee Sen. John McCain’s acceptance speech, drew in a combined total of 38.9 million total viewers from eight networks
  • And the Emmy goes to …

    • Outstanding Drama:  Mad Men (AMC)
    • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama:  Bryan Cranston – Breaking Bad (AMC)
    • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama:  Glenn Close – Damages (FX)
    • Outstanding Comedy:  30 Rock (NBC)
    • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy:  Alec Baldwin – 30 Rock (NBC)
    • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy:  Tina Fey – 30 Rock (NBC)
    • Outstanding Miniseries:  John Adams (HBO)
    • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries:  Paul Giamatti – John Adams (HBO)
    • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries:  Laura Linney for John Adams (HBO)
  • Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain squared off in the first Presidential debate and drew in 52.4 million viewers across 11 networks. The live Vice Presidential Debate between candidates Gov. Sarah Palin and Sen. Joseph Biden drew in 69.9 million total viewers across 11 networks; The second Presidential Debate between Obama and McCain pulls in 63.2 million total viewers; and the final Debate has 56.5 million total viewers, per Nielsen.  Others basking in the Prez Debate glow is SNL (thanks largely to Tina Fey), and the late night talkers and the Sunday morning news shows
  • The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences voted to lift the ban on movie commercials during the Oscar telecast
  • GM revamped its $2 billion account with Publicis’ Starcom MediaVest Group, citing a need to manage costs and decrease expenses. GM also took away planning/buying functions for local dealers, giving them to Martin Retail Group, a division of Publicis and Velocity, part of Campbell-Ewald
  • Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign bought a commercial-free half-hour on CBS, NBC, Fox, MSNBC, BET, TV One and Univision in primetime for a special on October 29 at 8p – the collective viewing audience was 33.5 million viewers
  • Granite Broadcasting Corporation is switching the call letters of KBWB/San Francisco to its original call letters, KOFY.  No dogs though.
  • FCC chairman Kevin Martin’s plan to force cable operators to carry more than 500 low-power TV stations on their systems was thwarted
  • In early October, Nielsen reports 9+ million households are still not prepared for the upcoming all-digital transition happening on February 17, 2009.  By year’s end, this number is 7 million.
  • A combined total of 70.6 million viewers tuned in to watch extended election night coverage across 14 networks, according to Nielsen Research.  History is made and Barack Obama is elected President of the United States.
  • TVB revised its TV station revenue calculation for 2009, projecting the total spot sales being down between -7% and -11%
  • Members of the Screen Actors Guild may bring Hollywood to its knees a second time this year, as strike talks are looming
  • Cincinnati’s low power TV station WBQC-TV has petitioned for new call letters — fittingly, WKRP in Cincinnati
  • Leaders from the Screen Actors Guild informed its members they would receive strike authorization ballots mailed to them on January 2 … after many letters written by notables and a well-signatured petition was delivered to the SAG offices asking for the cancellation of the strike vote
  • Cynopsis shutters the International edition
  • Liberty Media Corp. announced yesterday it will likely go ahead with stated plans to separate out its Liberty Entertainment tracking stock encompassing
  • A sign of the times, BBDO Detroit cut 145 staffers, representing 22.1% of its workforce. The layoffs were based on the drastic sales decline from BBDO’s largest client, Chrysler
  • Cynopsis announces it will provide free Situation Wanted ads for the foreseeable future to all of those out of work
  • Meredith Corporation cut 60 employees and 60 other jobs
  • Viacom announced it is eliminating 850 employees or 7% of its workforce and initiating a salary freeze for senior staff
  • In a similar move, NBC Universal may cut up to 500 jobs across all company divisions, equivalent to approximately 3% of its total workforce
  • CBS Corporation follows suit, eliminating staff of CBS Entertainment and CBS Paramount Network Television

EXECUTIVE MOVES: NEW TOPPERS ONLY (too many exec moves to include all of you!)

  • Donald D. Perry will step down as President/CEO of Clear Channel Television
  • Discovery Communications named longtime company veteran Mark Hollinger to the new position of COO
  • Thomson-owned Premier Retail Networks (PRN) tapped Richard Fisher as President worldwide
  • Warner Bros. Television Group combined Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution and Warner Bros. Domestic Cable Distribution, into Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution with Ken Werner as President
  • Jason Klarman was appointed GM of Oxygen Media
  • Effective Media Services promoted Brendan Kehoe to President/COO
  • Regent Worldwide Sales, the sales arm of Regent Entertainment, promoted Meggan Kimberley and hired Adam Wright as Co-Presidents
  • Frances Berwick advanced to the new position of GM with Bravo Media
  • Neal Shapiro takes over the position of CEO at the Educational Broadcasting Corporation
  • Walt Disney Company board of directors on Friday signed President/CEO Robert A. Iger to a new five-year contract through January 31, 2013
  • Ed Wilson was appointed President of Tribune Broadcasting
  • Logo elevated Lisa Sherman to EVP/GM
  • Carl Vogel will step down as President of Echostar’s DISH Network for personal reasons, and stepping up will be Chairman/CEO of DISH and Echostar Corp, Charlie Ergen
  • Terry Mackin joins Univision Communications Inc. beginning March 1 as President/Television Station Group
  • After 17 years with MTV and most recently as its President, Christina Norman will leave the network to pursue something new professionally
  • Discovery Communications appointed Clark Bunting as President/Emerging Networks group; Carole Tomko will take over as President/Discovery Studios
  • Publicis USA and Optimedia US together launched Optimedia Inside, a joint venture which develops media neutral strategic solutions for clients.
  • Diana Wilkin assumes the post as President/Affiliate Relations for the CBS Television Network
  • Exiting Tribune Broadcasting owned KTLA/Los Angeles is VP/GM Vinnie Malcolm, and stepping in as interim GM is John Vitanovec until a permanent replacement has been named
  • York Entertainment named Steven Bulzoni as President/Domestic Entertainment
  • Young Broadcasting Inc. elevated Jay Huizenga to President/GM of KELOLAND (KELO-TV) in Sioux Falls
  • Eric Levitan advanced to COO with Argo Systems, Inc.
  • Vince Manze moved to a new creative position as President/NBC Universal Television Creative Services
  • GroupM appointed John Montgomery to the new post of COO at GroupM Interaction North America
  • Bruce Steinberg, CEO of Hit Entertainment Limited announced his resignation and the appointment of his successor, Jeffrey D. Dunn
  • Leaving the CBS Early Show is executive producer Shelley Ross, in that position for a little less than six months
  • John Sykes, President/Network Development with MTV Networks announced his decision to leave the company
  • Ken Taylor was named President/GM of Starcom MediaVest Group’s restructured GM Planworks
  • Fox Entertainment Group recruited Beth-Ann Eason as GM/COO of Beliefnet.com
  • Mandalay Media, Inc. appointed Bruce Stein to the position of CEO, coming most recently from The Hatchery, LLC where he served as Founder/Co-CEO
  • MGM tapped Mary Parent, Vice Chairman/Worldwide Production at Universal Pictures for the new position as Chairperson/Worldwide Motion Picture Group
  • Radio Disney appointed Michael G. Riley as SVP/GM succeeding Disney veteran Jill Casagrande who departed the company in February
  • Carolyn Strauss has stepped down as HBO Entertainment President, tho it is expected she will continue at HBO for some time
  • Gary Jones advanced to President of PorchLight Home Entertainment
  • David F. Caruso comes to ACME Brand Content Company as President.
  • Spot Runner announced two executive changes: John Gentry was promoted to President up from Chief Revenue Officer and the company added Samuel Paisley as CFO
  • New Line Cinema names Toby Emmerich as its new President & COO
  • Bonnie Hammer signed a multiyear agreement with NBC Universal to become President/Cable Entertainment and Cable Studio in addition to her duties as President of USA Network and SCI FI Channel
  • CBS Mobile upgraded Jeff Sellinger to EVP/GM where he will manage the division
  • Tribune Company appointed Chandler Bigelow as CFO to supervise all corporate financial activities starting immediately
  • Bounce tapped Carleen Cappelletti as President
  • CBS Television Distribution (CTD) upped John Nogawski to President of the division
  • SJL Broadcast Management Corp. advanced Brian M. Lilly to President/CEO and Wade O”Hagan to VP/CFO
  • Raycom Media upped Nick Simonette to VP/GM of WBTV/Charlotte where he succeeds Mary MacMillan who served in this position since 1998
  • Rick Sands, COO announced his departure from MGM
  • Hyperion upgraded Ellen Archer to President
  • Tribune Broadcasting appointed Bob Ramsey as VP/GM of Fox affiliate KTXL/Sacramento.
  • Jacqueline Hernandez will be the new COO for Telemundo Communications Group
  • Sue Naegle landed the position of President at HBO Entertainment
  • Jamie Davis to VERSUS as President
  • Spot Runner hired former Interpublic Media CEO and MTV President Mark Rosenthal as President of the newly formed Media Platforms division and Vice Chairman
  • Rosalyn Durant moves into the position of VP/GM of ESPNU from VP/Programming and Acquisitions at ESPN
  • Matthew A. Rosenfeld was named President/GM of WTVH/Syracuse-Utica; WBNG/Binghamton-Elmira; and WBXI/Binghamton-Elmira
  • Eric Rollman moves up to President/Marvel Animation with Marvel Entertainment
  • Cloud Ten Pictures upped Andre van Heerden to CEO. In addition, Katherine Kunberger was hired as President 
  • Aegis Media announced an internal organizational structure, breaking its Aegis Media Americas into two units focused on geographic and specialist divisions. In making these changes, David Verklin, CEO, Aegis Media Americas will depart the company later this year yet will remain available to Aegis Media for several months. In addition, Sarah Fey was named CEO of Aegis Media North America
  • Larry King will continue with CNN at least until 2011 according to his new contract extension with the network
  • After just 10 months in her new post, Lisa Judson is leaving as head of Warner Bros. Animation in LA with plans to move back to NYC
  • Trailer Park appointed Rick Eiserman as CEO to lead the company with efficiency and synergy across its multiple divisions
  • Documentary Channel tapped James J. Ackerman as Chairman of the Board
  • Katz Media Group elevated Christine Travaglini to the position of President/Christal Radio, a unit of Katz Radio Group
  • Lauren Zalaznick assumes the new role of President/NBC Universal Women and Lifestyle Entertainment Networks
  • CaribeVision appointed Emilio Nicholas, Jr. as President/CEO of Advertising
  • Just in time for the ABC upfront presentation, Steve McPherson, President/ABC Entertainment signed a new multiyear agreement to remain with ABC
  • Alexander Schmidt-Vogel, founding Manager and present CEO of GroupM’s MediaCom Worldwide was made Global CEO of GroupM Trading.
  • MGM named Bedi A. Singh as President/Finance and Administration and CFO
  • John Landgraf, President/GM of FX Networks re-upped for an additional three years
  • Mark Greenberg named President/CEO of the premium pay TV venture between Viacom, Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate and MGM
  • Londen Media Group named Jeff Burnton as GM of KAZT/Phoenix
  • Hutch Parker will be Chairman of New Regency along with Robert Harper.
  • Ibra Morales, President of the Telemundo Station Group will leave the company this Friday after not reaching a contract renewal agreement with the network
  • Titan Worldwide recruited Ellen Schovanec as VP/GM in the Southern California region
  • Kansas City-based Newport Television LLC hired Bill Sally as GM at WXXA-TV/Albany
  • Adam Ware was appointed President of IA Media which includes oversight of ImaginAsian TV.
  • After working in the media industry for more than 30 years, Kathy Crawford will retire as of June 30. Since 2003, Kathy served as President/Local Broadcast for MindShare North America.
  • CBS College Sports Network hired Steve Herbst as EVP/GM
  • Dennis Adamovich moved to TBS in the new position of SVP/GM of Comedy Festivals
  • With a contract expiring this month, Susan Lyne will leave her position as President/CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO) and the responsibilities will be jointly met by Wenda Harris Millard, President/Media and Robin Marino, President/Merchandising, who were both just advanced to Co-CEOs
  • David Verklin will spearhead Canoe Ventures, LLC as CEO, a new joint company based in New York City and owned by a coalition of MSOs
  • Jay DiGiovanni advanced to SVP/GM of PVI Virtual Media Services, Rainbow Media
  • Judith Zaylor whose career totals nearly 30 years, will retire July 3 from her position as EVP/Production with Warner Bros. Television
  • Sony Pictures Television (SPT) upgraded Robert Oswaks to President/Marketing, reporting to Steve Mosko, President, SPT
  • Madeline Di Nonno will become the new President/CEO of On The Scene Productions (OTSP), succeeding Co-Founders Sally Jewett and Stacie Hunt
  • Susanne Daniels has resigned as President/Entertainment of Lifetime Networks
  • Robin Schwartz was appointed President for OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network
  • Rainbow Media upped Evan Shapiro to President of both IFC and Sundance Channel, reporting to Ed Carroll, President/Rainbow Media
  • Laura Michalchyshyn is made EVP/GM of Sundance; and over at IFC, Jennifer Caserta named EVP/GM
  • John Weiser reupped as President/Distribution at Sony Pictures Television
  • Sandy Breland moves to WAFB/Baton Rouge, the CBS affiliate owned by Raycom Media, Inc. in the position of VP/GM
  • A&E Television Networks (AETN) advanced Robert DeBitetto to President/GM of A&E Network and Bio Channel
  • Relativity Media tapped Tom Forman as CEO for Relativity Real
  • NBC Universal elevated Vivi Zigler to President/NBC Universal Digital Entertainment where she will offer support and counsel to all NBCU entertainment websites
  • Michele Band is the new Partner/Co-Owner of Ignition Films and will continue supervising East Coast operations based in New York
  • Carolyn McIntyre was appointed President of the California Cable & Telecommunications Association (CCTA)
  • Air America Media tapped Bennett Zier as CEO
  • Lyle Schulze was upped to VP/GM of KMIR-KPSE/Palm Desert
  • Bryan Perez was appointed as SVP/GM for NBA Digital, an entity jointly managed through the partnership between Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. and the NBA
  • Peace Arch Entertainment Group Inc. tapped Gerry Noble as CEO
  • Mark Lazarus joined Atlanta-based Career Sports & Entertainment as President/Media and Marketing. Atlanta-based Career Sports & Entertainment (CS&E) is a full-service sports and entertainment agency
  • Fox Cable Networks upped Michael Hopkins to President/Affiliate Sales and Marketing
  • Jim Thompson will become President of the Broadcaster’s Foundation of America, replacing current President, Gordon H. Hastings
  • 25-year NBC News veteran, Phil Griffin advanced to the position of President of MSNBC where he will report to Steve Capus, NBC News President
  • Angela Shapiro-Mathes will leave her position as President/GM of TLC, to be replaced immediately by Eileen O’Neill
  • Thomas Ehlmann, VP/GM of WGN-TV in Chicago, has moved to Pres/GM of KXAS/Dallas
  • Steve Mosko has re-upped with Sony Pictures TV through 2012
  • Great Works America, a full-service creative marketing and communications agency, named Fredrik Carlstrom CEO/Executive Creative Director
  • Terry Mackin, Station Group President, has left the company
  • Harry E. Sloan has signed a new three year agreement to continue as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.
  • Acorn Media Group named Peter Clinch as President of Acorn Direct.
  • Kevin Beggs, President/Television Programming and Production with Lionsgate, was elected as the new President of the Hollywood Radio and Television Society’s Board of Directors for the 2008-2010 term
  • Univision Communications Inc. elevated Joanne Lynch to President/Television Station Group
  • Stuart Diamond is the new CFO of GroupM, North America
  • Chris Albrecht has left the IMG building.  Albrecht joined IMG just less than a year ago, and is headed back to Foresee Entertainment, an indy development and production company he formed before joining IMG
  • John A. Riggle will retire as GM of WPMT/Harrisburg, owned by the Tribune Company, effective September 1. Larry Delia, current VP/GM of WGNO-WNOL/New Orleans, also owned by Tribune, will succeed John
  • Stephen Allan advanced to Chairman/CEO of MediaCom Worldwide.
  • Patrick McClenahan was elevated to President/GM of KCBS-TV and KCAL-TV, the CBS O&Os in Los Angeles
  • James Sullivan was officially named the President/Sales for CBS Television Stations
  • Meteor Worldwide recruited Syd Smith for the new position of Group CEO where he will supervise the company and its associated businesses including the production company White Flower Entertainment and the mobile marketing company Pliq
  • London-based independent distribution company Digital Rights Group (DRG) opened Digital Rights Group America with Lee deBoer as Chairman to head the new venture
  • MAGNA tapped Elizabeth Herbst-Brady as President
  • Retirement Living TV (RLTV) named Patrick Baldwin as GM to oversee all business divisions, strategic direction and overall daily operations of the network
  • Susan Lyne, formerly of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and ABC Entertainment, is now CEO of Gilt Groupe an e-commerce company that sells upscale products online at a discount
  • Tribune Company appointed Phil Waterman as VP/GM of WGNO-WNOL/New Orleans
  • Imagi Studios elevated Erin Corbett to President of the U.S. operation, reporting to Douglas Glen, CEO
  • TNS North America hired David Kieselstein as CEO located in New York
  • Hearst-Argyle Television appointed Frank A. Bennack, Jr. as Chairman
  • Fox National Cable Networks rehired Rich Battista as President in charge of the company’s national programming areas
  • Tribune Company named Marty Wilke as VP/GM of WGN-TV in Chicago
  • Chuck Bolkcom named President and Chief Operating Officer of Cynopsis Media LLC
  • Rainbow Media elevated Kim Martin to President/GM of WE tv up from EVP/GM of the network
  • CBS Television Distribution promoted Scott Koondel as President/Distribution to head the company’s sales of off-network programming to cable and digital media outlets.
  • Linda Sullivan, President/GM of KNBC/Los Angeles is leaving her position by year’s end
  • Simon Philips advanced to President/Worldwide Consumer Products with Marvel Entertainment, Inc. in addition to continuing in his position as Marvel’s Head/Worldwide Animation
  • Meredith Corporation upped Darrin McDonald to VP/GM of KVVU/Las Vegas and Patrick McCreery to VP/GM at KPTV-KPDX/Portland, OR
  • TNS named Sam Thayer as President/Client Services of TNS US Custom
  • Rick Feldman, reupped as President/CEO of National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) for three more years
  • FOX News Channel re-upped with Sean Hannity to keep the co-host of Hannity & Colmes with the network through 2012 … in late November it was announced Alan Colmes has opted out of Hannity & Colmes; Hannity will continue to do the show by himself
  • Not to be outdone, Bill O’Reilly host of Fox News Channel’s The O’Reilly Factor made a new four-year pact with the network for an estimated $10-12 million per year
  • DuBose Entertainment hired Robyn Lattaker-Johnson as President
  • Brand Performance, LLC recruited Rick Simpson as COO
  • Colin Callender, President of HBO Films will leave his position; Kary Antholis will gain the post as President, HBO Miniseries and Len Amato will become President, HBO Films
  • Andrew Lack was appointed as CEO at Bloomberg
  • Univision Communications Inc. and Katz Radio Group tapped Chris Munoz as EVP/GM of Univision Radio National Sales (URNS)
  • Tom Calderone advanced to President of VH1 
  • Stephen E. Recht joins Glam Media, Inc. as CFO
  • GroupM appointed Kelly Clark to the new position as Worldwide CEO of the MAXUS agency network
  • OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network tapped Robert Tercek as President/Digital Media 
  • John Caldwell was named President of National Geographic Digital Media (NGDM) 
  • KTBC/Austin, part of the Fox Television Stations group, appointed Mark Rodman as VP/GM.
  • Alan Ett Creative Group named Peter Isacksen as President
  • Nick Buzzell is heading up a new full service production company called NBTV Studios as President/EP. Additionally, Brant Kantor, co-founder will be the company’s GM/EP
  • Gordon H. Hastings will head the new ghhMANAGEMENT based in Greenwich, CT
  • Kevin Walsh was appointed VP/GM of KOVR-TV (CBS) and KMAX-TV (CW)
  • Andy Fisher is retiring as President of Cox Television at the end of the year; stepping up into the Presidential seat will be Vice President Bruce Baker
  • Alison Kenney Paul was elected President of the Network of Executive Women, Consumer Products and Retail Industry
  • Trailer Park Television upped Mike Leathers to President/Co-Creative Director and recruited Sarah Pierce as SVP/Co-Creative Director
  • Stephen K. Friedman was appointed GM of MTV
  • Young Broadcasting Inc. upgraded Brian Greif to President/GM of KRON/San Francisco
  • Keith Olbermann, host of Countdown on MSNBC will remain as a fixture on the network for four more years until 2012
  • Rainbow Media elevated Charlie Collier to President/AMC up from EVP/GM of the network
  • Susan D. Whiting advanced to Vice Chairperson with The Nielsen Company
  • Worldwide Biggies, Inc. hired Steve Tucker as Chief Revenue Officer
  • Vivian Schiller was appointed as President/CEO of National Public Radio
  • Craig Robinson was upped to President/GM of KNBC/Los Angeles
  • Tribune Company expanded the duties of Pam Person, VP/GM of KCPQ and KMYQ/Seattle to include supervision of KRCW/Portland
  • BET Networks appointed Loretha Jones and upgraded Stephen Hill as Presidents/Programming
  • Jay Fukuto advanced to Head/Studio up from Head/Production with Film Roman, a division of Starz Media
  • Barbara Cochran, President of RTNDA for the last 12 years will retire from her position in June 2009
  • Breakthrough Entertainment promoted Nat Abraham to Head/Distribution
  • Michele Noll advances to VP/GM of Millenia 3 Television
  • Roger Ailes, Chairman/CEO of Fox News Channel signed a new deal that keeps him at the network for another five years
  • Ben Silverman, Co-Chairman/NBC Entertainment and NBC Universal Television Studio joined the Board of Directors of the Peacock Equity Fund
  • MGM upgraded Bruce Tuchman to the newly created position as President, MGM Networks
  • Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. elevated Bernie Young to EVP/GM, Broadcasting
  • Keith Le Goy advances to President/Distribution with Sony Pictures Television International
  • Elyse Lawson joins New York production company Curious Pictures as Head/Development
  • Joanna Drake Earl advances to COO with Current Media
  • Scott M. Sassa was appointed President/Hearst Entertainment & Syndication in addition to taking on duties as SVP, Hearst Corporation
  • NBCU announced Katherine Pope, head of Universal Media Studios is leaving the company
  • David Gregory named as the new permanent host/moderator of NBC’s Sunday morning’s Meet the Press
  • CNN officially renewed its head political anchor Wolf Blitzer through 2012
  • Entertainment Rights appoints Deborah Dugan as its new CEO
  • Angela Bromstad to President/Primetime Entertainment, NBC and Universal Media Studios
  • Shannon O’Neill advanced to GM/New Media Group with the Golf Channel
  • Patrick McClenahan advanced to President/GM of KCBS-KCAL/Los Angeles
  • NBC Universal President/CEO Jeff Zucker confirmed Ben Silverman, Co-Chairman, NBC Entertainment and NBC Universal Television Studio will soon sign a new contract
  • Tribune Company named Ed Wilson as Chief Revenue Officer
  • Greg Moyer is leaving Rainbow Media Holdings where he is GM of Voom HD Networks, to take on the new role as President of Scripps Networks International
  • 44 Blue Productions hired Lisa Knapp as Head/Development
  • CBBC named Steven Andrew to the position of Head/Drama and Acquisitions        
  • Thomas A. Oakley is stepping down as president-chief executive officer of Quincy Newspapers Inc.

IN MEMORIUM:

Ron Bergamo … Leland A. Jackoway … Suzanne Pleshette … Allan Melvin … Shell Keplar … John McWethy … Roy Scheider … Steve Levin … Richard Widmark … Charlton Heston … Sydney Pollack … Dick Martin … Harvey Korman … Jim McKay … Tim Russert … George Carlin … Dody Goodman … Fred Powers … Tony Snow … Bernie Mac  … Bernie Brillstein  … Isaac Hayes  … Donna Arnold (Cerio) … Don LaFontaine … Bill Melendez  …  Paul Newman  …  Anne Pressly … Lou Dorfsman … Mario Accardo … Michael Crichton … Matthew Rodriguez … Edward Samuel “Ted” Rogers … Paul Benedict … Beverly Garland … Van Johnson … Frank A. O’Neil …

Did I forget anything or anyone? Of course I did, tho not intentionally.  Here’s to a happy and prosperous New Year!

Later — Cyn
1.1.08

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