Saturday, March 31, 2007

Tribune Watch: No word on sale of Tribune Co.

The bids are due today for the Tribune Co., but there is still no word on who will end up with the media conglomerate - Chicago billionaire Sam Zell, who's offering $33 a share, or the two L.A. billionaires, who's offering $34 a share. There is a chance that the deadline could be extended, and at this late hour, it likely will. If we hear anything, we'll certainly post it here, as whatever happens will likely change the face of Chicago's biggest media company. Stay tuned.

Friday, March 30, 2007

More BS from the FCC and the NAB

The FCC has determined that the iPod is not a competitor to satellite radio, a possible blow to the hopes of XM and Sirius merging. Who's celebrating this? The National Association of Broadcasters, of course. That's the group (along with the RIAA) that doesn't want you to have a choice of what platform you want to listen to your music.

In matter of fact, I'm listening to an iPod right now. Not satellite radio, and definitely not the crap on terrestrial radio. It's a competitor. That's a fact. The FCC and their anti-consumer cohorts at the NAB are idiots. That too is a fact.

No more road for Fox Sports pregame show

No, we are no longer on the clock... but the football items roll on...

Because of cost concerns, Fox sports has decided to keep its pregame show in L.A. this fall and WNYW-TV New York sports guy Curt Menafee will be the ringmaster of a circus that includes Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, and Jimmy Johnson.

Could this mean the return of Jillian Barberie? Stay tuned....

And finally... the NFL is now on the clock

And we end our "on the clock" posting with a story about... The NFL (what irony!)

The NFL has wisely lifted its ban on local TV sideline coverage. The new loosened rules means that up to 10 video crews can be used at the games, five for each competing team. Stations will be able to participate in pool coverage.

What goes around.... comes around. And on that note (and thankfully...) The T Dog Media Blog is off the clock.

The Tribune Co. is now on the clock...

But it looks like that self-imposed deadline by Tribune for bids on the company maybe extended, thanks to an 11th-hour bid by Los Angeles billionaires Eli Broad and Ronald Burke, a $34-a-share offer to Chicago billionaire Sam Zell's $33-a-share offer.

Reportedly, the loser will have his head shaved in the ring at Wrestlemania.

Canadian Broadcasters are on the clock

Private Canadian broadcasters (CTV, Global) are drawing more viewers for American fare like American Idol, but it is costing more, and it's hitting them in the pocketbook. Not surprisingly, Canadian broadcasting advocacy groups aren't happy with the continuing influx of American shows.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

KRON is now on the clock

Young broadcasting says it is considering selling its San Francisco station KRON-TV which went from a dominant NBC affiliate (under former owner Chronicle Broadcasting) to a lackluster MyNetworkTV outlet.

Shelly.... you're now on the clock

(Okay... This "on the clock" shtick is getting a bit much...)

Shelly, the entertainment reporter from B-96 (WBBM-FM). I did not know she looked like Ricki Lake... I pictured her more of a blonde.... (This was taken from Chicagoland Radio and Media's site - one of our media friends)

Miss America's now on the clock....

And like The Great American Dream Vote - get clocked out. CMT has dumped the once popular pageant after two years. This comes after NBC picked up the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants for three more years, despite the fact that nobody watches them. (They did the same thing with the NHL on Tuesday. So why can't CMT follow the trend?)

So, what's going to happen to this organization that's run by out-of-touch dinosaurs? Your move, Mr. Wirtz - Oh, I'm sorry. I'm getting the Chicago Blackhawks and The Miss America Organization confused again.

Great American Dream Vote is on the clock....

I guess you mean off the clock. ABC pulls the plug on whatever this show was, after just two days.

Blackhawks are on the clock.... end this sorry season, and get the hell out of town, hopefully for good. (and take your sorry management with you.) ESPN's Ultimate Standings ranked the Hawks dead last in the NHL. This is what yours truly posted on a Tribune blog:

Maybe the same people who keep going to Hawks games are the same ones who keep voting for Sanjaya on American Idol. Makes sense to me.

And while we're at it, we can also assume they also voted for Illinois' current Governor. That too makes sense.

Alabama's on the clock...

Alabama is saying no to the XM and Sirius satellite merger. That's nice and all, but how about passing a bill to ban the sale of Taylor Hicks' music?

Mancow... you're on the clock

Most useless interview of the day: Inside Radio interviews Mancow Muller.

Meanwhile, All Access is reporting that Opie & Anthony this morning declared war on Mancow, for among other things losing stations in Chicago and Des Moines, and the use of staged phone calls (doesn't every radio show in America do that?)

You're on the clock

In honor of ESPN's ridiculously overhyped NFL Draft coverage (yes, I checked the calendar - it's still March, where we are supposed to be consumed with MARCH MADNESS), we're putting every post on the clock... from noon today until noon tomorrow, every post title will be "on the clock", including this blog. This is being done to point out the stupidness of ESPN's excessive off-season NFL coverage. By this time tomorrow, if you are sick of seeing every post titled "on the clock" - now you know how we feel about ESPN.

This... starts... now!

The T Dog Media Blog is on the clock.

Syndication Report

This week, Marc Berman in Mediaweek details what's going on in the world of first-run syndication, in a report you can read by clicking here. (Adobe Acrobat required.) Among the findings:

- Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! are still tops in syndication (of course), with Who Wants To Be A Millionaire still performing well, and Family Feud taking it on the chin a little.

- Court's still strong, but a few shows have slipped (notably Judge Hatchett.)

- The magazine shows got a boost from the coverage (and aftermath) of Anna Nicole's death.

- The biggest surprise in the talk category is the ratings decline of The Tyra Banks Show, more notably in the key target demo of women 18-34 and women 18-49. You'd think with all the publicity surrounding her as of late, Tyra Banks' talk show would get a boost in the ratings. The same can be said for Ellen, which is also down in key demos. (Both shows are distributed by Warner Bros.) Ellen Degeneres is clearly no Rosie O'Donnell.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Extremely local news

Chicago Tribune's Red Eye has started a CTA blog. So, if you want to complain about the CTA (and we all know you do), now you have a place to do so. Man, if this only existed 20 years ago when yours truly was regularly standing out on 79th street outside Sears in the wintertime waiting for a bus for 40 minutes.

P.S. Like the red in Red Eye?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

NBC, CBC extend NHL pacts

The NHL got some much needed good news over the last two days, as it successfully renewed its television pacts with NBC and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

NBC and the NHL came to terms on an extension of a revenue-sharing agreement, which was created in 2004 in which no upfront rights fee was paid. NBC has extended the agreement through next season, and has an option to extend it through 2009. NBC also will now have a flexible scheduling arrangement, similar to what it has with NFL games late in the season. This extension comes despite the fact that ratings are down slighty from last year, in households and in the target demos of men 18-34, men 18-49, and men 25-54.

Meanwhile the CBC renewed its deal with the NHL to carry the very popular Hockey Night In Canada for the next six years, extending the deal with Canada's public broadcaster through the middle of the next decade. HNIC is the longest-running prime-time program in North American history, bringing Canadians together in front of the tube on Saturday nights since 1952.

The CBC deal includes multimedia rights (including live and on-demand streaming video), the All-Star Game and Stanley Cup Finals (NBC in the U.S. will have games 3-7), and Stanley Cup playoff games involving Canadian teams.

Analysis: This marks the first time that the NHL actually got a renewal from a television network in the U.S. Really. This does comes as somewhat of a surprise, given the fact that if you look at the ratings, it doesn't even deserve a renewal. But there is more to it than that. Unlike with the previous Fox and ABC deals, NBC is paying basically next to nothing for the NHL, and the network is at least giving the league a little more time to grow its U.S. audience, which is basically next to nothing. (You can partly thank the 2004-05 lockout for that.) The NHL needs to improve its standing in many major markets, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. (and needs to get back on ESPN), or the league will continue to struggle.

The move also means that all NHL games on NBC will air on Sunday, with an exception of a few playoff games. While it will compete directly with the NBA on ABC, there's not much of an overlap with fans of both sports (for proof of this, check out any message boards after a NBA brawl takes place), but there is when it comes to baseball - that's a different story. The NHL will compete with baseball games on Fox (on Saturdays) and Turner Sports (on Sundays beginning in 2008) during the spring months when the NHL playoffs take place.

And besides, what are NBC affiliates going to air in its place? Paid programming? Desire reruns? The ratings wouldn't be any better. NBC isn't losing at lot of money on the NHL (in fact, executives say the deal is profitable), and that's why it's back.

As for the CBC deal : While the network has had plenty of missteps over the years (terrible local news, numerous labor problems, budget cuts, rampant mismanagement, questionable programming decisions, the DaVinci's City Hall debacle - these make even the now-shuttered UPN and WB look good by comparison), this is a reminder that at least somebody in North America knows how to program Saturday nights effectively. Maybe the U.S. networks can learn a thing or two from north of the border. Televised Saturday night hockey games in Canada are traditional; families gather around to root for their favorite team. What's our Saturday Night tradition? In the '70's people stayed home to watch Mary Tyler Moore, All in the Family, and M*A*S*H. In the '80's, it was The Golden Girls. Today? It's going to the multiplex to see the latest awful movie with the kids. It's that bad.

Updated at 13:37 on 2007-03-28

Garry Meier signs with WCKG

It's official : Garry Meier joins WCKG-FM as an on-air host, beginning on Monday. His new show will air from 8 to 11 am weekdays.

This puts him on the same station as his former partner, Steve Dahl. Dahl hosts afternoons from 2 to 7 pm. Dahl and Meier were on-air partners from 1979 to 1993, until a nasty breakup ended their run. Meier's last gig was at WLS-AM, partnered with Roe Conn. Meier left in 2004, and hasn't been on Chicago radio since.

Last summer, Meier appeared on Dahl's show during a live remote, and apparently buried the hatchet. That opened the door for this deal for Meier.

WCKG hopes this move will wake up the ratings-challenged station, which often ranks at the bottom of the Arbitron book.

Tribune Watch: Zell getting close to deal

If all goes well, the ownership of the Tribune Co. will end up in the hands of billionaire Sam Zell with an $8 billion dollar offer. If it goes through, he plans to take the company private, and plans to keep it intact.

Former WMAQ-TV GM out of station ownership business

Lyle Banks, the former WMAQ-TV general manager who tried an experiment ten years ago this April by putting trash TV talk show host Jerry Springer on the station's 10 p.m. newscast (which forced Carol Marin and Ron Magers out the door) has sold his company's TV station in Wichita (KSCW-TV) to Schurz Communications, which recently purchased CBS affiliate KWCH-TV.

Schurz purchased KWCH-TV from Media General last year. It was a condition that Media General agreed to when they purchased four stations from NBC.

Both KWCH and KSCW will now operate in a duopoly, with Schurz streamlining operations with KSCW, which usually means with fewer staff at the second station.

KSCW was originally a WB affiliate when it launched as KCWV in 1999, but changed call letters when the UPN and WB merged to form the CW.

Monday, March 26, 2007

They Gone!

Joel Hollander's behind just got shoved out the door... Dan Mason, a CBS Radio veteran, is returning to the fold to replace Hollander as president and CEO of CBS Radio, Inc.

Meanwhile, Joke Theissman, er, I mean Joe Theissman is out after 20 years working on ESPN's football games. This past season, he worked alongside Mike Trico and Tony Kornhiser on ESPN's Monday night Football, and for 19 years, the former Washington Redskins quarterback was on ESPN's Sunday Night Football.

Won't miss him of course, but hell, while they were at it, they should have gotten rid of Kornhiser too.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Here's something to really cry over...

The closure of The George Michael Sports Machine - ending tonight after a spectacular 24-year run.

George Michael has stepped down as sports anchor of NBC-owned WRC-TV in Washington, D.C., which also produced the syndicated weekly sports clip show, after the parent network reduced the budget for the program, resulting in its' cancellation. Michael (who shares the same name as a certain pop star, but nicer and more humble of the two) was at WRC for 27 years.

The program perhaps is tied for the record (with Access: Hollywood) for the program that has been syndicated by the most companies -in name only - beginning with ITC (in 1991), then Group W, Eyemark (merger between CBS and Group W - which resulted in a NBC-owned show syndicated by a CBS company - a first), King World (when CBS merged Eyemark and King World), NBC Enterprises, and finally NBC Universal (NBC's merger with Universal.)

Hey there, now....

Don't cry, little girl. So the Blackhawks didn't make the playoffs this year. Don't worry, you'll get a chance to see them suck again next year.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Miss USA tanks in ratings?

Don't know how the 18-49s and female demos are, but it looks like all that controversy over Miss USA Tara Conner didn't bring viewers en masse to the pageant. (and boy, did the Miss USA pageant take a drubbing in the Tribune's Tempo section yesterday. Ouch!)

March Madness on CBS (The NCAA hoops tourney) ruled the night. (Bye, USC and Vanderbilt.)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Channel 9 traveling down on slippery slope?

That's the question Robert Feder is asking in today's Chicago Sun-Times, where we writes about WGN-Channel 9's planned move to air two-minute tourism features weekly between April and July on the station's 9 p.m. newscast - sponsored by the Illinois Department of Tourism. According to the station's news director, they will ask the Department of Tourism on advice on the segments and nothing more. He defended the deal, saying it won't promote the Deptartment of Tourism.

Seeing that WGN is already airing useless segments on its 9 p.m. newscast involving CW shows, like Top Model auditions and an interview with a WWE Diva, I say that pretty much answers Feder's question.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

NBC, NewsCorp to form new joint website

In an unprecedented move, General Electric-owned NBC Universal and NewsCorp. have announced that will form a video source to compete with Google-owned YouTube. The ad-supported, yet-to-be-named site will be up and running this summer and will feature full-length episodes of shows from NBC and Fox, including Heroes, 24, The Simpsons, and Top Chef. Movies available for downloads are from their respective movie studios, Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox, will also be included. (Movies can also be seen full-length on the site). The companies also are tapping help from some of Google's rivals, including AOL, Yahoo!, MySpace (owned by News Corp.), and MSN.

Cooperation and ventures among major media companies are not new. In 1989 for example, Paramount Pictures and MCA TV (The forerunner to NBC Universal Television) formed a partnership (Premier Advertising Sales) to sell advertising time in their respective syndicated shows.

Both NBC and Fox have had problems with YouTube in the past because of unauthorized copyrighted material from both studios illegally uploaded on the site.

Last week, Viacom sued YouTube for $1 billion dollars for the company's material showing up unauthorized on their site. Viacom ordered YouTube to take down over 100,000 clips of their programming.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Calvert DeForest dies

Best known to fans of Late Night With David Letterman as Larry "Bud" Melman, Calvert DeForest passed away Monday in a Long Island hospital after a long illness. He was 85. Because his character's name was NBC's intellectual property, his appeared on CBS' Late Show with David Letterman under his real name, when the show switched networks in 1993.

Mr. DeForest last appeared on Late Show in 2002. In addition, he also appeared in several TV shows, movies, and commercials for Honda and MCI.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Nine FM: No more free music

In a rather decidedly tongue-in-cheek press release, Nine-FM, the suburban-based triplecast that has a variety hits format, proclaims that the station is no longer giving away free CDs and encouraging listeners to send any CDs they won back to the station in exchange for a Nine FM T-shirt. Where are the returned CDs going? Back to the RIAA and Sound Exchange, who want more money from internet radio streamers - so much money, that it may put many streamers - especially smaller ones - out of business. So, if Nine FM wants to continue streaming online - why should they pay money to the RIAA to buy CDs to give away to their listeners? After all, isn't the point of these giveaways is to build goodwill among their listeners? The RIAA, which wants to promote artists on radio, now won't be able to through Nine-FM because it's no longer affordable to the radio station...

In other words: Great move by Nine-FM.

To read the press release, click here and click on the link titled "Press Release: Nine-FM To Stop Giving Away Music."

Meier to reunite with Dahl?

Not really, but Garry Meier may end up on the same station (WCKG) as Steve Dahl, who worked together for several different Chicago radio stations until a falling out in 1993 (The duo did reunite last August for one time only.) Rob Feder has the scoop here.

Monday, March 19, 2007

He's just like another Bill

Here's another rich guy named Bill I hate... The only difference is this guy is actually successful. Bob Garfield of Advertising Age interviews Microsoft founder Bill Gates (click here to read the article and download the podcast), and Gates talks about the digital world, but when it came to those Mac vs. PC ads, Bill Gates turned into Bill Wirtz.

A good thing Garfield didn't ask Gates about the Blackhawks' home TV blackout policy.

Syndication Update: "Let's Play Crosswords" and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent"

- Program Partners' and Merv Griffin new game show Let's Play Crosswords, which already cleared five NBC O&Os, has now cleared 65% of the country, making the program a "firm go" for this fall. Station groups that bought the show include stations owned by Belo, Tribune, Young, and Raycom.

Notable clearances: The show has cleared duopolies for the most part, but the program did clear stand alone stations in Sacramento (KTXL/Fox), St. Louis (KPLR/CW), Charlotte (WCNC/NBC), and San Diego (KGTV/ABC), Buffalo (WGRZ/NBC) and Dayton (WHIO/CBS).

Interestingly, the show has not cleared four markets where NBC owns stations and were not part of the original deal, such as Philadelphia and Miami. There's a possibility those stations may come on later.

To see the full list of clearances, click here.

- NBC Universal has cleared the off-network drama Law & Order: Criminal Intent in 97% of the country, including Fox-owned MyNetworkTV stations in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago (WPWR-TV).

Notable clearances: Three ABC affiliates - in Boston (WCVB), Washington D.C. (WJLA), and Detroit (WXYZ) have cleared the show. NBC affiliate WXIA in Atlanta also has hopped on board.

Law & Order: Criminal Intent is the first off-network program to be sold in traditional broadcast syndication as a strip in seven years.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Oh, Tyra! What have you done now?

Tyra might give Rosie something more to complain about....

Maury actually serving some purpose?

The T Dog Media Blog Weekend Edition (Yes, another name thought up by our marketing dept....)

You know those paternity tests on Maury? Turns out, they actually serve some purpose after all. And you know what? Maury is right when he talks about men denying responsibility for their biological children. Hate the show all you want, but he's has a point.

Friday, March 16, 2007


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And the winner of today's history making "Jeopardy!" today is....

Well, here's a hint: It's like kissing your sister...

Carol Burnett sues "Family Guy"

She sues for making fun of her on the show and violating her copyright.

Is her agent the same as Chicago Bear Lance Briggs? Next question. (The lawyer handling the case is standing in the background to your left.)

No more Democrtats on Colbert report?

I guess this means we won't see Illinois Democrats on The Colbert Report anytime soon... Well, it's not like these guys had any sense of humor to begin with....

Ugly Betty in trouble?

The bloom may already be off the rose for Ugly Betty, which slipped in the household ratings and among adults 18-49 last night against Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? on Fox.

But perhaps the real question we should be asking is, how will this affect My Name Is Earl and The Office, two well-received shows that's popular in the 18-49 demo. Will this push all the scripted shows to the bottom of the ratings heap in the time period? Let's hope not. If it does, all this will mean that all this talk about the rise of scripted, original programming will be just that - talk.

As for the popularity of 5th grader? Well, given who this country re-elected in the White House three years ago, and who this city re-elected in City Hall recently, this comes as no surprise...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Fox gets smarter

No, they didn't dump O'Reilly or the News Channel (we wish), but they renewed the worst game show since Show Me The Money and Singled Out - Fox picked up for another 13 episodes Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, the same question Blackhawks fans (if any left) have been asking management for quite some time now (and you know the answer is always no.)

I guess that same question also applies to Fox executives, who picked up 'Til Death (hello, post-Simpsons or Family Guy time slot next fall) and The Wedding Bells for this season (and you know the answer is always no.)

CBS Sports, YouTube to feel the madness

CBS Sports, YouTube, and the NCAA have created a channel on the video site, presented by Pontiac. (We build excitement!) This starts with the opening tip of the popular NCAA tournament today. The channel presents game highlights, press conferences, CSTV material, and more.

To see the channel, click here.

(Don't forget, CBS is streaming their games online as well. Go to for more information.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

No, we did not all turn gay

The T Dog Media Blog After Dark (That means that we can swear!)

In this MediaLife article, Toni Fitzgerald reports that the new CW series The Pussycat Dolls Present : The Search For The Next Doll, the reality program actually attracts more female viewers than male ones. She says that it is basically a no-brainer: "The internet offers all the eye candy they could ever want."

While that is true, The T Dog Media Blog After Dark offers some more reasons why guys aren't tuning in to the Pussycat Dolls: (If you want to see why young women are tuning in, click on the link above. She can explain it better than we can....)

  • We don't watch the CW, except on Friday night when Smackdown is on. (Disclaimer: This blog does not endorse watching WWE fare because the league is being run into the ground by Bill Wirtz Jr. [aka the one they call "Vince".])
  • We don't listen to top 40 radio anymore. In fact, we don't listen to the radio at all anymore. Can anybody tell us when was the last time any male called in to the Eddie & JoBo show? Can anybody tell us when was the last time anyone listened to the Eddie & JoBo show?
  • We don't watch beauty pageants anymore. Maybe somebody should tell the 75 year-olds who run the Miss America Pageant to make it more exciting to us guys. Or women for that matter. (They should not have taken NHL commissioner Gary Bettman's advice on what cable network to put it on. Worked well for him with the NHL, didn't it?)
  • Actually, we like to look at the Pussycat Dolls. Listening to them sing or talk is another matter.
  • We love to look at ladies on the Internet, because they don't open their mouths, and want to bore us about what happened on Gilmore Girls.
  • We don't watch reality TV shows. We smell shit that's phony a mile away. (However, it doesn't explain why wrestling appeals to us - particularly the league run by Bill Wirtz Jr.)
  • We don't go to Blackhawks games anymore because the players and management suck d- wait, that's the topic for the "Why NHL hockey in Chicago died" blog entry.

Or is it that guys' taste in entertainment is finally improving? Nah. We're just more selective.

Television Without Pity Sold - to NBC Universal

If you were on the website Television Without on Monday, and went on The Real Housewives of Orange County thread, you found all the posts wiped out on the advice of lawyers.

Now we know why.

It turned out NBC Universal, the owner of the pop-culture focused cable net, acquired the website on Tuesday under the Bravo name. (Real Housewives airs on Bravo.) The popular site, known for its snarky recaps of hot-for-the moment TV shows (including Grey's Anatomy and Project Runway), and its message boards, will add new shows, podcasts, video content, and blogs, among other things.

This marks the second time this year that a big media name has acquired a TV fan site. Last year, TV Guide acquired Jump The Shark.

Analysis: TWoP is one of many sites where TV fans get recaps of shows and post on their message boards. It is also believed that many who work in the entertainment industry visit and post on the site as well. While the site has its fans, it also has its detractors.

Many feel the site recaps are too smarky and smug. And many complain about the heavy-handed moderation on the board, with a few complaining about being banned from the site if you voice a dissenting opinion about a program.

This situation partly led to the downfall of the original Radio-Info website, where many posters complained about heavy-handed moderation, especially when it came to posting negative remarks about hip-hop and rap music. When the site was taken over by new ownership, they fired the moderators, in which some say the site has greatly improved.

Not from me, though. Radio-Info has increasingly been leaning to the right and has become a forum to bash black and Hispanic formats. (One note: The TV and new generation media boards are fine. It's some of the radio forums that are the problem.) The new moderators have done nothing about it, leading me to assume they have the same feelings as the posters. That's why you don't see Radio-Info listed as a media "friend" on this site.

Big media is increasingly getting into the online website business. While they say nothing will change, except for "improvements", you can't help but feel that those "improvements" will make things worse. One could wonder if it will be an "anything goes" atmosphere like at Time Warner-owned, where racial hate messages are prominently displayed.

I'm not all for heavy-handed moderating. But when someone steps over the line with offensive comments based on race, gender, and the like, it should be dealt with swiftly. And that's not happening on these big media websites.

Does anyone think that big media cares about offensive messages on their websites? The hotter the discussion (aka flame wars), the more people visit. The more people who visit, the more money the website can make. It's just as simple as that.

After all, do we really need another website, blog, or message board like that? Big media does. That's a warning to all you TWoP fans out there. Your good site may very well go down the tubes. Look what happened to Radio-Info.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

WVAZ (V103) gets license renewal

Post No. 200!

The Sun-Times Robert Feder reports that Urban AC WVAZ-FM (or V103) "dodged a bullet" from the FCC and renewed the station's license after it rejected a complaint from a Joliet listener who claims that her family was slandered and harassed by the syndicated Tom Joyner radio show.

"Dodged a bullet?" Give me a break. There's a better chance of the Arizona Cardinals winning this year's Super Bowl than WVAZ losing their license over a complaint made by some dope about a bogus personal attack made by a fading radio show. Come on Feder, you know better than that!

YouTube hit with lawsuit from Viacom

In what may open the door for similar lawsuits from other media companies, (yep, the genie's out of the bottle) Viacom has filed a lawsuit against YouTube and its parent Google, Inc. for $1 billion dollars in damages, due to the unauthorized clips from its cable networks (MTV, Comedy Central, etc.) that appeared on the popular site. Viacom ordered YouTube to take down 100,000 clips a few weeks ago after failing to develop software to weed out unauthorized material, and YouTube complied.

But since then, 50,000 more unauthorized Viacom clips have shown up on the site, and that apparently was the last straw.

This tussle is pretty much like the one Lance Briggs is going through with (his soon to be former team) the Bears. And much like the football player's clash with his team, this battle between YouTube and Viacom is unlikely to have a happy ending.

UPDATE: Read Viacom's legal complaint here. (Adobe Acrobat required)

Sweeping up

We’re back, and we’re sweeping up from the recent February ratings period in local markets (All ratings are measured by Nielsen):

New York: WABC-TV dominated the ratings and in all local news time periods as usual, but it was WCBS-TV that surged to second place overall. A bad book for WNBC-TV, which fell to third, but it was an even worst book for MyNetworkTV affiliate WWOR-TV, who finished dead last in the ratings, finishing behind even the two Spanish-language stations. It looks like the ghosts of RKO (or Morton Downey Jr.) are still haunting the station.

Boston: ABC affiliate WCVB-TV re-established dominance over NBC affiliate WHDH-TV by beating them head-to-head in every news time period, something WCVB hasn’t been done since the ‘90’s.

Detroit: WXYZ-TV, another ABC affiliate, beat NBC affiliate WDIV at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. news slots but not at 11p.m. while Fox-owned WJBK-TV took mornings. Inside Edition, which returned to WDIV’s early fringe lineup for the first time in 16 years, flopped (finishing third behind WJBK’s Judge Judy and WXYZ’s Oprah) , despite continuing coverage of Anna Nicole’s death. Notice the 3.1 rating was only a third of what the show got in that same time period in ’89. Another notable: The Early Show didn’t exactly wake up in the Motor City with a 0.3 rating. WXYZ won overall in households, while CBS-owned WWJ-TV finished fourth.

Miami: ABC affiliate WPLG-TV (noticing a trend here, folks?)also swept its competition, including the Spanish-language stations and won in households sign-on to sign-off (and without Oprah – which was a mainstay on the station’s early fringe lineup in the ‘80’s and 90’s.) NBC-owned WTVJ did not have a good book.

Orlando: Another ABC affiliate, another win: WFTV manhandles its rivals.

St. Louis: Here’s a market where the ABC affiliate doesn’t dominate. Or has a local newscast. Or any ratings. Or a clear signal. Or good management. Or…. Oh – where was I? NBC affiliate KSDK beat its rivals, including barely edging out CBS affiliate KMOV-TV at 10 p.m. Of surprise note here, was KMOV finishing third in the morning news race, behind Fox-owned KTVI.

Memphis: Another close 10 p.m. news race – CBS affiliate WREG-TV barely topped longtime leader WMC-TV. It was the fifth straight victory over the NBC affiliate. Also of note, Fox-owned WHBQ-TV (Channel 13) newscast finished with a record 10.8 rating at 9 p.m., easily topping the ratings of ABC affiliate WPTY’s (Channel 24) newscast at 10 p.m. Both stations swapped affiliations in December 1995, clearly to Fox’s benefit.

Louisville: NBC affiliate WAVE –TV makes huge gains in the ratings, but its CBS affiliate WLKY that dominates the news here with a huge victory at 11 p.m. One surprise (or maybe not if you’re a Louisville area resident) was WLKY’s The Young and the Restless beating Oprah on WHAS at 4 p.m. WHAS used to be the dominant station in Louisville, which was a CBS affiliate. Unhappy with the network’s prime-time performance, it dumped CBS for ABC in 1990, while CBS wound up on UHF outlet WLKY. When the network returned to number one, WLKY shocked everybody in Louisville when it went to number one too, beating its most established VHF rivals. Now, WHAS is a shadow of its former self, despite being affiliated with a network with hot shows.

Dallas: (From Ed Bark): A successful book for ABC affiliate WFAA-TV, which won newscasts at 5 p.m., 6 p.m., and 10 p.m., in total homes and in adults 25-54 at 5 and 6. NBC-owned KXAS won at 10 in adults 25-54, Fox-owned KDFW won at 9 p.m. over KDAF, while CBS-owned KTVT struggled in all news time periods. KTVT did prevail in the prime access 6:30 p.m. time period with Wheel of Fortune in households over the Anna Nicole-fueled tabloid entertainment shows, but it was Entertainment Tonight on WFAA that won the time period in adults 18-49. Meanwhile, KTVT’s sister station KTXA-TV was successful with the win-happy Dallas Mavericks.

Denver: NBC affiliate KUSA-TV wins. Again. Meanwhile, ABC affiliate KMGH-TV continues its decades-long losing streak by finishing third in all news time periods. CBS was wise to dump this station and buy KCNC-TV 12 years ago.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

WFLD to launch 10 p.m. newscast (updated)

In a move that's been rumored for the last several months, Fox-owned WFLD-TV will launch a 10 p.m. newscast on April 9.

The move replaces the late-night airing of The Simpsons. Repeats of the program will remain in the 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. time slots, for now. Bart & Co. has held the 10 p.m. time slot for a long time, since December 1996.

Anchoring the newscast is Dave Novarro, who previously worked the morning show at the Fox station and Lauren Cohn, a vet of several Chicago news operations. Amy Freeze, who was hired from NBC-owned WCAU-TV in Philadelphia, will handle weather, and Corey McPherrin will handle sports. The newscast will target viewers in the money demo, aka adults 18-49.

The 9 p.m. newscast will remain as is, with no changes. While WGN usually leads in household ratings, it's a different story in adults 18-49, where in the recent February sweeps, WFLD beat its archrival soundly, and tied with WLS-TV's 10 p.m. newscast for number one, thanks to popular Fox shows American Idol, 24, and House.

As for The Simpsons, the program may move into the 10:30pm slot in the interim, but this fall, its' likely that TMZ, the new celebrity magazine show from Warner Bros., will claim that slot.

Analysis: You're probably asking, "Why are they doing this? There are already stations airing news at 10. More crime news and celebrity fluff. They're going to get crushed. And on top of that, they're taking an airing of The Simpsons away. They suck. They're bastards!"

Before you write that letter to Feder, calm down and a take a moment to read this:

While I agree on all fronts, let's face it: the off-network sitcom market isn't as strong as it used to be. Fox-owned stations like WFLD are aggressively pushing a news expansion. Soon, the station will likely enter the 5 p.m. news race as well, which many Fox O&Os (like New York City and Washington, D.C. are already in.

Why? Well, one, the commercial inventory in newscasts is all theirs - they don't have to share it with syndicators, which is a demand for any product they sell to stations nowadays. Two, news is more profitable than spending tons of money on off-network sitcoms that don't work, or are steadily declining in the ratings. Three, the days of counter-programming news with family-type sitcoms in early fringe are for the most part, over. Those type of shows aren't made anymore, except for the fare on The Disney Channel. Furthermore, the animated blocks that used to dominate afternoons on independent stations that fed into these shows are long gone. Today's kids now watch that stuff on cable or on home video, or don't watch TV at all during that part of the day.

Some Fox stations have had some success in airing news opposite the big three affiliated stations - for example, KMSP-TV in Minneapolis has beaten a traditional rival, ABC affiliate KSTP-TV in the 10 p.m. news ratings for a few years now, and WTTG in Washington has also had success at 11.

Back to the matter at hand. While The Simpsons move will be unpopular, ratings for the 10 p.m. airing have declined for years. Sex and the City on WGN-TV, has constantly beat it in the ratings, and The King of Queens on WCIU-TV has also done well in that same time slot. Cable entities like The Daily Show and Adult Swim have eaten into the young-male audience for The Simpsons, and they have triple-run the show for several years, even running the same episodes (usually from later seasons) within days or weeks of each other in different slots, causing more audience erosion.

The competition will get even tougher next year, with WGN acquiring male-skewing favorites Two and a Half Men and Family Guy for syndication this fall (If you're wondering if WGN will follow WFLD's lead and expand to 10 or to early fringe, forget it - it's not going to happen, at least not anytime soon, given Tribune's grave financial situation.) WGN could capture young males at 10 left behind by The Simpsons by airing Family Guy to counter the newscasts, though it would mean moving the female-friendly Sex and the City to 11 or later.

A possibility would be to move the 10 p.m. airing of The Simpsons to sister station WPWR-TV, where it would fit nicely with King of the Hill. But the question is, will viewers find it? On the upside, it could draw more viewers than Scrubs, the off-network sitcom that currently occupies that time slot. The downside? The ratings for the animated comedy could go down even further, not matching the numbers it had in the same time slot on WFLD.

Several years ago, viewers complained when The Simpsons were replaced by syndicated Frasier repeats at 10. Due to the outcry, they were back on in no time. Unfortunately, viewers who complain this time are likely to be out of luck.

- On a side note, doesn't anybody find it interesting that WFLD's new expansion to 10 p.m. was not mentioned on any of the TV trade websites (except for TVnewsday?) If WNYW in New York announced a news extension, you bet your behind it would be mentioned. Talk about your East Coast Bias.

Updated 2007-03-08 at 11:55pm

Management shakeup at WVAZ, WGCI

In a move that been universally panned by the blogging and message board community (except this blog, which thinks this is a good idea - Wait a minute. Hold up. Am I praising something Clear Channel is doing? I must be high...), Clear Channel has decided to split the management at top-rated Urban Contemporary outlet WGCI-FM, and successful Urban AC outlet WVAZ-FM.

Elroy Smith, who previously ran both stations, will only now run WVAZ, while Kris Kelley (no, not the BackTrax USA host) will become new program director at WGCI. She hails from Detroit's successful heritage Urban station WJLB-FM, where she was assistant program director, music director, and midday personality.

In essence, this splits the PD duties at both stations, countering a trend against consolidation in the management ranks, which should make for a better product overall.

That's certainly not the case at Crawford's two competing stations, urban WPWX-FM and urban AC WSRB-FM. Both stations are struggling, and regarded as industry jokes.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Photo Finish

While Chicago's late news competition is like the recent mayoral race - a snore as always (WLS-TV wins again. Whoopee.), Let's focus on neighboring Milwaukee, where it is always fun and exciting!

Ratings are based on households and are from Nielsen.

WTMJ, Journal Broadcasting's NBC affiliate is in a dead heat with rival WISN-TV, Hearst-Argyle's ABC affiliate for 10p.m. news supremacy. This February, WTMJ edged out WISN with a 11.1 rating to WISN's 10.8. Both averaged an 18 share. WTMJ overcame weak NBC prime-time lead-ins (it was ranked fourth) to barely beat WISN (which ranked first, despite American Idol airing on Fox-owned WITI.)

Meanwhile the race for third was also interesting. WITI edged out Weigel Broadcasting's CBS affiliate (and sister station to WCIU) WDJT-TV, 6.0 to 5.9. Both had a 10 share.

Also of note, King of Queens on CW affiliate WVTV had a 2.8/5, knocking off perennial off-network leader The Simpsons on MyNetworkTV affiliate WCGV, with a 2.4/4. King was up 2 share points, while Simpsons were off 2.

Both stations are owned by Sinclair Broadcasting Group.

You're kidding. Right?

There is a sitcom in development at ABC that is based on - get this - The Geico Caveman.The copywriter behind those ads would also create and write the sitcom.

Alright, which TV executive stepped into a time machine and went back to 1967 to get this inane idea?

Next thing you know, The CW will develop a sitcom around The Pillsbury Dough Boy.

Yes, this Caveman sitcom is so easy... even an idiot can write it. So I assume Blackhawks management will be producing this show?

Are you smarter than a 5th grader?

Perhaps, but if you are dumber are a 5th grader, you're already more than qualified to run the Blackhawks.

(Click on the link, scroll down, and you'll see a comment by yours truly pointing out a goof B&C made on that story regarding 5th grader facing Survivor.)

Idiot website of the week

This petition comes from some dopes in the Kansas City market, complaining that their CBS programming is being interrupted by something unimportant as a severe weather alert.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

No more telenovelas on MyNetworkTV

To no one's surprise, there will be no more scripted programming on MyNetworkTV, according to Greg Meidel, the newly-installed president of News Corp.'s MyNetworkTV. The humongous failure of the network's nightly soap operas are being replaced, and now will focus on unscripted reality projects.

MyNetworkTV will relaunch next week with a more balanced plate of programming, with the last of the two soap operas that were ordered to air two nights a week, a martial-arts show to air one night, and theatrical movies to air the other two nights.