Friday, June 29, 2007

B 96 Summerbash bashed

Ah... the typical radio station outdoor concert... where fights break out, people mysteriously die and adult items are passed out to twelve-year olds.

And yes, there was plenty of teen drinking and drug use at the bash.

And this parent who was "outraged"... save your phony act for To Catch A Predator.

Not to mention the biggest headliner (Akon) couldn't finish his set because Toyota Park shut down at 11 p.m. due to a Bridgeview noise ordinance.

And there were reports that the acoustics sucked and many of the artists lip-synched their songs.

And of course, the brain trust at B96 and Toyota Park will hold this again next year in Bridgeview. And they will screw it up again next year.

Yes, the show was mediocre... Pretty much like radio and the music industry itself.

Yabba Dabba Doo!

Boomerang is airing an 83-hour Flintstones marathon, beginning July 4 at 5 a.m. (CT) The marathon consists of all 166 episodes of the prime-time series, which ran on ABC from 1960-66, then launched a number of Saturday morning spin-off shows (Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm, The Flintstones Comedy Hour, Flinstone Kids, etc.)

To see at a 1963 ABC promo for The Flintstones, click here.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Chicago's weather wars

An article in Crain's Chicago Business this week details the ongoing weather wars between Chicago's television news operations. Competitors are taking aim at each other, particularly at Fox-owned WFLD-TV and new weather bunny Amy Freeze.

The weathermen at other local stations are taking their shots at her and her station, with one weatherman saying that WFLD's breaking into regular programming for weather alerts is nothing but ratings desperation, and one competitor dismissed the station's "Ten Day at Ten" weather forecast as a gimmick. (Of course, one could wonder if competitors are trying to tie WFLD's news operations to the Fox News Channel, whose style irritates Chicago news bosses...)

Why so much emphasis on the weather? Because that's what most people turn into local news for (it isn't for the content, that's for sure), and 40 percent of local stations' revenues are derived from local news (especially important today, given the market for off-network programs have dried up, and first-run syndicated fare like Oprah is quite expensive while most newer syndicated fare, like The Megan Mulually Show, fails.)

Meanwhile, the hubbub over the weather hasn't really affected the ratings much, where ABC-owned WLS-TV still wins all local newscasts head-to-head. WFLD's 9 p.m. newscast is still behind CW affiliate WGN-TV, despite the fact that Fox's prime-time lineup provides a much bigger ratings lead-in than the upstart CW does (I told you we use our remotes more frequently in Chicago... After all, the remote was invented here.)

McNeil suspended from WMVP. Again.

Dan McNeil of ESPN-owned WMVP-AM has been suspended for three days for calling a female Comcast SportsNet producer a bad name on the "Mac, Jurko, & Harry" show on Tuesday. He slammed her for showing that fan running on the field at Wrigley Monday Night during a Cubs-Rockies game (Perhaps McNeil didn't see highlights of that Argentina soccer riot on ESPN the other night. That was a hell of a lot worse.) Then he goes on vacation for a few weeks, then he'll return. Maybe.

McNeil was suspended for 19 shows last year for getting into a verbal altercation with co-host Harry Teinowitz.

A total disgrace

It's a shame that Chicago's historic black newspaper is being treated this way. The Chicago Defender has now been cut back from publishing daily to only a few days a week, and its website, which hasn't been updated since June 8 (and only has been sporadically updated before that) is being neglected. Despite all the promises this bozo from Detroit is making (why is a Chicago paper's website even being handled from there?), the Defender will continue to struggle (or perhaps even cease operations) unless someone from Chicago buys the paper and invests in it.

After all, no one wants the Sun-Times- a paper run by clowns - to become the voice of the black community. It would be a sad day if that ever happened.

Derrick Brown named PD of V103; Tom Joyner comin' to town

Chicago native Derrick Brown has been named program director of Clear Channel's urban adult WVAZ-FM (V103), effective July 16. He replaces Elroy Smith in the role, who stepped down several weeks ago.

Meanwhile, The Tom Joyner Morning Show, which airs on V103, is coming back to town for the first time in three years. The live "Sky Show" will originate from the Chicago Theater Friday morning from 5 a.m to 9 a.m. To a lot of Chicagoans, Tom Joyner is fondly remembered as the "fly jock" who shuttled between jobs at WGCI-FM here in Chicago and KKDA-FM in Dallas between 1985 and 1993.

Chicago is TJMS' largest radio market and the largest non-Radio One radio station in the country that airs the show. TJMS does not air in New York or Los Angeles. TJMS is syndicated by Reach Media on 115 radio stations across the country.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Well, if the CW can bring back "The Game"...

... ABC can bring back According to Jim. Yep, sitcoms are still dead.

Must Flee TV

With the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Finals, two events that also tanked in the ratings, at least you had teams compete for a championship. But the Chicago White Sox aren't even close to doing that this year - and games on Comcast SportsNet are averaging a 1.6 Nielsen rating - down 40 percent from last year (last item). It's embarrassing when your team is being outdrawn by ratings dud National Bingo Night. One could wonder if Ozzie would be better off as a bingo caller on a lousy game show?

The Chicago Cubs meanwhile, has drawn better ratings on the channel with a 3.1 Nielsen rating, including a season high 5.0 rating on Monday night, outdrawing most network and cable shows in prime time, including NBC's idiotic reality programs. The Cubs are hot lately, winning six in a row.

However, like the White Sox, the Cubs have also experienced erosion in the ratings - the Cubs' are down 10 percent. Much like other sporting events this spring and summer (and television in general), ratings are down due to DVR use, fragmentation of the audience, the Internet (YouTube), video games, and competition from other programs that draw young males (IFL, UFC, TNA, etc.)

As for the White Sox, if the losing continues, one could wonder if the games on CSN will be soon outrated by Build a Better Burger on the Food Network and reruns of Mama's Family on ION. If that happens, look for the White Sox to exchange their uniforms for ones with the Blackhawks logo.

NBA extends pacts with ESPN and TNT

Despite declining ratings for the NBA Finals, the NBA extended its television and digital platform rights until the 2015-16 season for ESPN, ABC, and TNT.

The new deals gives ESPN and TNT the rights to stream NBA material onto its digital broadband platforms, including ESPN360 and TNT Overtime.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

FEMA screws up again

This morning, Chicagoland radio and TV outlets were interrupted by the Emergency Alert System, then dead air, and then the voice of WGN-AM's Spike O'Dell, who wondered what the heck was going on.

The cause? a FEMA contractor's installation of the state's Emergency Alert System satellite receiver in Springfield as part of a nationwide upgrade.

"Chicago Tonight" rained out

Baseball games and golf matches get rained out all the time, but a TV show?

That's exactly what happened tonight after a downpour flooded the studios of WTTW-TV, forcing the cancellation of tonight's edition of Chicago Tonight.

A freak rainstorm created havoc downtown and on Chicago's North Side, causing flooding in many areas.

WTTW replaced the canceled airing of Chicago Tonight with a Chicago Stories repeat.

McMahon to address Benoit tribute

WWE chairman Vince McMahon will address viewers tonight on Sci-Fi Channel's ECW show about the three-hour tribute show given to Chris Benoit last night on USA Network's WWE Raw, which have received an ample amount of criticism.

ECW and Smackdown tapings will resume as of tonight. USA and Sci-Fi are cable networks owned by NBC Universal.

The WWE is also concerned about media reports regarding the gruesome deaths of Benoit and his family, some attributing that steroids were to blame for Benoit killing his family and then himself. Toxicology reports have yet to be completed.

Meanwhile, the storyline regarding the "death" of Mr. McMahon has been scrapped. A three-hour tribute show had been planned in honor of Mr. McMahon's character Monday Night - that is, until the real life death of Benoit and his family occurred.

Monday, June 25, 2007

WWE wrestler Chris Benoit found dead (updated)

This is legit.

Chris Benoit and his family was found dead this morning just outside Atlanta. Tonight's Raw show on the USA Network has been canceled and a tribute show on Benoit is airing in its place.

UPDATE: Sadly, this turned out as a murder-suicide. Benoit strangled his wife, smothered his son, and hung himself in his weight room, according to the Chicago Tribune via the AP.

There is no word at this time whether or not Smackdown will tape tonight, for airing on the CW on Friday. Smackdown usually tapes on Tuesday.

(Editor's Note: We have pulled today's T Dog Media Think Tank, "Blew the Limo, Capsized the Ferry" until further notice out of respect for Benoit and the WWE. It will be re-edited and reposted at a later date. - T.H.)

updated at 1:05 pm CT on 6/26/07

Friday, June 22, 2007

Smells like Fidel Castro

The National Association of Broadcasters endorsed a policy at the United Nations, trampling over the rights of NPR and PBS in the process, which is basically an anti-broadcasting treaty.

Yep, if it's anything that screws over the public, you can bet that the NAB (and Vince McMahon) - will be there.

Sorry, had to throw fake leg boy in there...

Get ready for the crosstown classic (yawn)

It's the second series meeting between the Cubs and the White Sox this season, this time at U.S. Cellular Field. Enjoy it baseball fans because after this weekend, baseball season in Chicago will be officially over. Bring on Da Bears!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Look, here's how you do a newscast....

Guess who gave advice recently to the staff at Fox News Chicago? None other than Shepard Smith of Fox News, who, in a meeting with several news staffers, anchors, producers, and managers, completely ripped the station's efforts, notably the station's new 10 p.m. newscast, The Ten.

Smith said that the newscast should have more music, move at a faster pace, and the graphics should be bigger - just like on the Fox News Channel.

"I'm not here to talk to you about journalism," one witness recalled him saying. "I'm here to talk to you about good TV."

Some say that he was an emissary of Joel Cheatwood, who recently became vice president of development for Fox News Channel. Enough said.

"The Office" sold to TBS and Fox

My Name Is Earl also goes to TBS

NBC Universal sold its (somewhat) popular sitcom The Office to TBS and to several Fox-owned television outlets today. Fox stations will clear the show in ten markets, including WFLD/WPWR in Chicago.

TBS will air repurposed episodes this fall and will strip the program in 2009.

TBS adds the show to its stable of popular of off-network sitcoms, including Everybody Loves Raymond, Seinfeld, Friends, The King of Queens, and Sex and the City.

TBS also acquired the cable rights to The Office's companion show, My Name Is Earl from Twentieth Television. TBS will air the show in 2009. A broadcast sale of the show has been put on hold until the fall, (unless you count WTBS in Atlanta), while Twentieth waits to entertain offers from Tribune, Fox, and other broadcasters.

Meanwhile, The Office garnered bids in the $200,000 per-week range which Fox has agreed to pay- cheap compared to what Tribune is paying for Two And a Half Men. They are paying a whopping $600,000 per week for the CBS sitcom. Tribune stayed out of bidding for The Office, which helped keep the price down.

The pending sale of the Tribune Co. also may have played a factor in declining to bid for The Office.

Fox will add The Office to WFLD/WPWR in Chicago, and all of its duopoly stations it owns, including those in New York and Los Angeles (The sitcom was also sold to stand-alone WUTB, a MyNetwork affiliate in Baltimore.)

Fox owns the syndication rights to Seinfeld and The Simpsons in those top markets, and will add Everybody Loves Raymond next spring.

The Office is NBC's top-rated sitcom, and is a phenomenon among the adult 18-49 audience, where it usually wins its time period. The show is also top ranked among women 18-34 over other sitcoms.

The Office is based on the British sitcom of the same name. The British version stars Ricky Gervais. The American version stars Steve Carrell.

American Dad renewed for fourth season

And look for Twentieth to start marketing American Dad soon to cable and for syndication. The animated series, created by Family Guy's Seth McFarlane, has been renewed for its fourth season on Fox. The renewal brings the total number of episodes to 84.

Philadelphians tuning out newscasts

First it was Washington, D.C., now its Philadelphia that's suffering the news blues. While ABC-owned WPVI still leads all local newscasts, ratings for the four major stations in the market are down in the key 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. time slots. Not only that, the article points out that local news ratings are down nationwide - including here in Chicago.

The usual suspects? The internet, changing lifestyles, disinterest by young viewers, and of course, the overall crapiness of the newscasts.

But with a dearth of first-run and off-network programming (and the fact that local news still make a lot of money for stations), don't look for any stations for pare down the number of hours they produce news anytime soon...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Daniel Snyder buys Dick Clark Productions

Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has acquired the company founded by Dick Clark in 1957 for $175 million. Now let's see Snyder ruin that like he did the Redskins.

Judge Larry to get his own show

From Broadcasting & Cable: CBS has signed Anna Nicole judge Larry Seidlin to do a daily syndicated show to debut in the fall of 2008. Gee, who saw this coming?

Day of Silence

On June 26th, U.S. Internet streamers and webcasters will shut down their services for a day to protest the rise in internet royalty rates webcasters would have to pay to keep the music flowing.

As you probably know by now, the Copyright Royalty Board has approved the major rate increase, which would put the majority of webcasters out of business because of rates they could not afford.

Those rates would take effect on July 15, and webcasters would also have to pay rates retroactive to January 2006.

A bill has been introduced in Congress so the rates would be closer to satellite radio, essentially saving net radio, but no action has been taken yet.

Scroll down and click on the Save Net Radio link on the right to see what you can do to help.

Monday, June 18, 2007

She's worked.... there?

Hard to believe that a fine-looking woman like Rocsi Diaz - who's now on 106th & Park on BET -once worked for Power 92 (WPWX-FM) in that dumpy neighborhood in Hammond (The station's studios is right off Calumet Ave. - the only notable building on the entire street. I often pass it on my way to get ripped off at the gas pump...)

She's interviewed by Baller Status magazine (Yes, I'm a Baller...) about her split from the Crawford-owned urban contemporary station and how she's settling in her new role at 106th & Park. You go, girl!

End of an era in Cleveland

The era of the movie host has comes to an end in Cleveland: Chuck Schodowski is retiring from WJW-TV after 47 years at the station, which included stints as an engineer and director, but most notably for hosting movies with Bob Wells (Hoolian and Big Chuck) and later with John Rinaldi (Big Chuck and Little John). On Friday, a one-hour retrospective airs on WJW, celebrating the station's movie host past, which included a Friday late-night horror movie hosted by "Ghoulardi", which was created and played by Ernie Anderson, who, of course went on to do voice-overs for ABC and also commercials for Sega video games and voice-over promos for Paramount's Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The series ended its run this past Sunday morning. The program aired at 12:30 a.m., after Talk Show with Spike Feresten. The retrospective airs Friday night at 8 p.m. on WJW.

Big Chuck and Little John, which featured numerous original comedy skits, survived numerous changes at the Cleveland station, from WJW to WJKW-TV back to WJW-TV, an affiliation switch from CBS to Fox in 1994, and ownership changes from Storer to Gillett to New World to Fox.

Last week, Fox announced it was putting WJW and eight other stations up for sale.

Toss it or recycle it?

St. Sabina Church, whose pastor is Rev. Michael Pflager, has begun a billboard campaign to urge residents in the Chatham, Englewood, and Auburn Gresham neighborhoods on the South Side to get rid of negative hip-hop music which demeans women, contains foul language, and promotes a violent lifestyle.

Artists listed on the billboard (with the names printed on a trash can) include Fat Joe, Nelly, and Lil' Wayne.

Rev. Pflager missed a couple of names though, like, say... oh... Mike North or Ozzie Guillen....

ABC tanks on Sunday Night

This is the reason why the CW and MyNetworkTV are sticking around: ABC sunk to a record low in adults 18-49 last night overall, headlined by an insipid reality show, Fast Cars and Superstars: The Young Guns Celebrity Race.

Congress sponsors a la carte cable bill

This bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.). But don't be fooled by the "D" - he represents one of the most conservative districts in Cook County, and his dad, who he replaced, wasn't exactly a big fan of the late former mayor Harold Washington. Interesting to note that he's not sponsoring legislation along with the other Chicago Democrats in D.C. over "Blair's Bill", which is anti-gun legislation named in honor of the late 16-year old Blair Holt, who was shot along with four others on a CTA bus last month...

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Stupid is as stupid does

CBS-owned WBBM-TV 5 p.m. newscast's lead story today and on the front page of their websiteat the same time:

On a day when there were several anti-violence marches all across the city, a bunch of brawlers take center stage at Wrigley.

No wonder these guys are in last place in the ratings.

Great month for journalism, huh? People dying in Iraq, children dying on the streets of Chicago, and all that passes for news these days are the two tabloid disasters many people can't stand - Paris Hilton and the Cubs. (I'd throw in the White Sox and Blackhawks too, but they haven't received nearly as much coverage.)

What's next? The local stations sending a reporter to WWE headquarters in Stamford, Conn. to cover Mr. McMahon's "funeral"?

Where's Walter Cronkite and Bill Kurtis when you need them?

updated on 2007-06-17 at 23:34

Friday, June 15, 2007

The best line of the day

From The Citizens Voice, a newspaper in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton market on the "explosion" that "killed" WWE Chairman Vince McMahon Monday night just outside Wilkes-Barre, Pa.:

“Vince lives on,” [Wilkes-Barre Township Police Chief Robert Brozowski] said. “I wish him a speedy recovery. I’m sure he’s sitting in a nice hotel room in Trump Plaza laughing like a bastard.”

Judging by the article, Wilkes-Barre authorities weren't too happy fielding questions about this...

A nobody's watching hat trick

The 2007 NBA Finals will go down as the least watched finals ever - The San Antonio Spurs-Cleveland Cavilers matchup drew just a 5.5 Nielsen household rating last night, and a 6.2 for the entire series, in which the Spurs swept the Cavs in four.

Along with record-low ratings for the World Series (between Tigers-Cardinals) last fall and the Stanley Cup Finals (which were never high to begin with) a week ago, televisied sports (except football) completed a hat-trick of the worst kind. 

It looks like the Blackhawks and the WWE (and "Vince McMahon") aren't the only ones who are dead.... 

Thursday, June 14, 2007

B96 sold

... in Minneapolis, that is. KTTB-FM, or B96 in Minneapolis was sold by Radio One to Northern Lights Broadcasting for $28 million. Like our B96 (WBBM-FM) here in Chicago, Minneapolis-St.Paul's B96 is an rhythmic/CHR outlet, but it is the only station in the market (or the state for that matter) to have a hip-hop/urban music format. Radio One, which targets primarily African-American audiences, felt the market did not have a large enough black population to continue in the market, which is only 3 percent of the total.

No changes are expected at the station, and the rhythmic format will stay.

Northern Lights Broadcasting is a newly formed media company in Minnesota, headed by Minnesota Twins owner Carl Pohlad.

Perhaps the only difference between Chicago's B96 and Minneapolis' B96 is that the Minneapolis one dosen't have an outdated morning show...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Fox to sell nine stations

News Corp. has announced it will sell nine of its Fox owned-and-operated stations in these markets: Cleveland (WJW), Denver (KDVR), St. Louis (KTVI), Kansas City (WDAF), Milwaukee (WITI), Salt Lake City (KSTU), Birmingham (WBRC), Memphis (WHBQ), and Greensboro-Winston-Salem-High Point (WGHP).

This is part of a trend in which major networks are selling their O&Os in smaller markets. CBS and NBC have sold stations in the last two years.

It appears the stations are stand-alone markets, and not in duopolies or close clusters. For example, WJW is on the list because it's a stand alone (no duopoly) and Fox does not own anther station in Ohio.

However, Fox's station in Austin is not on the list. Fox owns three other stations in Texas, including two in Dallas. (CBS recently sold its Austin TV station.)

Fox's station in Gainesvile, Fla. isn't on the list either. Fox owns two stations in nearby Orlando and one in Tampa.

Fox owns two stations in Missouri, in Kansas City and St. Louis, but both are far apart, at opposite ends of the state. There is no Fox duopoly in either market.

This sale will leave Fox with 26 stations, with duopolies in nine markets, including Chicago.

Rogers to bid for more U.S. shows?

Will Rogers bid on more U.S. shows? That's the question many media watchers are asking now that Canadian cable giant Rogers Communications has bought the five CityTV stations from CTVglobemedia, thanks to a forced divestiture by the CRTC after CTV bought Chum, Ltd, the former owners of CityTV.

Rogers is buying CityTV formatted stations in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, and Winnipeg. Rogers already owns CFMT-TV (Omni 1) and CJMT (Omni 2) in Toronto, but both are multicultural-formatted, though both channels do carry some English-language syndicated and local programming. (Omni 2 is also getting late afternoon NFL games on Sundays this fall.)

Three major networks exist in Canada - privately-owned CTV and Global, and public broadcaster CBC, which does not air American programming in prime time.

The secret to winning the ratings wars north of the border is to acquire U.S. programming, something CTV and Global has done with great success.

But one has to wonder - at what cost to home-grown Canadian programming?

FCC rejects complaints from Chicago, Milwaukee groups

Nineteen TV stations in Chicago and Milwaukee won vindication from the FCC (or as Feder would over dramatically say, "dodged a bullet") after the agency rejected another bogus complaint from a media activist group. This time it was the Chicago Media Action and the Milwaukee Public Interest Media Collation, fronts for the Media Access Project, who claims that the stations ignored non-federal races in a month leading up to the November 2004 election.

I don't know about you, but does anyone outside of Schaumburg cares who gets elected mayor of Schaumburg? Give me a break.

NBA Finals tank in the ratings

With the NBA and Stanley Cup Finals down in the ratings dumps (thanks to the numbing dullness of the events) and Chicago's two baseball teams struggling, no wonder casual fans are deserting sports programming. If anyone wants to watch someone with absolutely no talent, they head to America's Got Talent - not the ice, hardwood, or the diamond (well, maybe except Cubs fans...)

And certainly, Game 3 of the NBA Finals last night resembled more of a Texas-San Antonio/Cleveland State college basketball game than the Spurs-Cavs. Brutal. (And it pretty much got the same ratings, too.)

Zell looks for help from Congress

Sam Zell, who is buying the Tribune Co., met with several Democratic leaders on Tuesday, including Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and expressed his concern that federal regulators are moving too slowly in deciding whether or not Tribune can own the same media in the same market, including Chicago.

Tribune needs FCC waivers to keep the properties it has in five markets, including Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. Media activists groups have objected, saying that Tribune is concentrating too much power in those markets.

However, Senator Durbin showed support for the deal, saying that he has seen no problems with Tribune's cross-ownership in the Chicago area, and he says most people in the market feel that they are a good source of news. He also mentioned that the way the public gets its news has changed over the years, with the emergence of the Internet and the proliferation of cable channels.

Durbin wrote a joint letter with Rep. Rahm Enamuel (D-Chicago) urging the FCC to make prompt decision about the sale a month ago. The letter was signed by fourteen other Illinois congressmen, both Democrats and Republicans.

With support from Illinois politicians, the deal stands a much better chance of being approved, also taking in the fact that FCC Chairman Kevin Martin hates the cross-ownership rules, and that CTVglobemedia already owns a newspaper, TV station, and radio stations (just acquired from Chum, Ltd.) in Toronto, with little or no outcry from residents.

Ironically, the media activist groups that oppose the sale are based in Washington D.C. and not in Chicago or Los Angeles, where Tribune owns the affected properties.

More on the McMahon death angle (Spoiler Alert, Updated)

(Spoiler Alert)

Here's more on the "death" of Vince McMahon:

The story actually made headlines on the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader website. Here's how it happened: According to the paper, the explosion actually was taped Saturday night/Sunday morning between 11 p.m and 3 a.m. in a sealed-off section near the Wachovia Center in Wilkes-Barre - all coordinated by a pyrotechnics company. Despite a claim on WWE's website that firefighters and federal agents were investigating, officials at the county 911 center said it was a "stunt", and no emergency vehicles were called to the arena on Monday night.

At 11 p.m. local time Monday, McMahon walked out of the arena past the wrestlers, and got into his limo. But to the viewers at home and the crowd watching on the big screen at the Wachovia Center, they saw the limo being blown up - a tape that was spliced together through the magic of editing. None of the wrestlers backstage didn't even know what was going to happen.

Meanwhile, local media outlets in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton market fielded calls as far away as Kansas to ask about the condition of Vince McMahon. In fact, a story on it was featured on ABC affiliate WNEP-TV's newscast on Monday night. Turns out, he's all right.

This storyline is a part of a larger angle involving Mr. McMahon, in which he was becoming more and more insane by the week - a spiral all started at Wrestlemania 23 when he lost a bet to Donald Trump and got all his hair shaved off. (Good grief, is Ozzie Guillen now going to follow this same path now that the White Sox are tanking? Stay out of those limos, Ozzie.)

The Times-Leader will have more on the story later today.

- Here's some video on WNEP-TV's website on the "explosion". Click here and there is a video section on the front page. Click "Newswatch 16 at 6 a.m. - Tuesday" to see the video.

- On Wrestling Observer's website, there was some mainstream media attention - on Opie & Anthony and a local Boston radio show...

- A "Mr. McMahon Presumed Dead" headline splashed across at 11:07p.m. Eastern Time - just minutes after the "explosion" took place. Never mind that Raw just began airing on the West Coast at the same time (8 p.m. Pacific.) Talk about your spoilers...

- Posters are talking about this on Jump The Shark and they've coined a new phrase: "Blew the Limo."

- Monday night's Raw was actually a tribute to Mr. McMahon as they billed it "Mr. McMahon Appreciation Night." Man, I can't wait for "Bill Wirtz Appreciation Night" at the United Center. I'll have the tomatoes ready....

- Aren't they laying this on a little thick? From "This incident is the first of its kind in the U.S. since the assassination of political figure Orlando Letelier in Washington, D.C. in 1976." Good Golly, Miss Molly....

updated 2007-06-13 at 12:42

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

End of an era in Toronto

(Editor's Note: Thanks to the anonymous poster who pointed out the incorrect date I wrote regarding the sign-on date on CITY-TV in Toronto. I wrote 1979. D'oh! The correct date was 1972. The post has since been corrected. If anyone spots an incorrect item, let me know by posting in the comments section, and I'll correct it as soon as I can. Thanks! - T.H.)

CITY-TV in Toronto, as well as four other Canadian stations with the CityTV branding formerly owned by Chum, Ltd. were sold to Rogers Communications on Monday, marking the end of the Chum broadcast group, which launched the unconventional CityTV in Toronto on September 28, 1972.

Rogers, one of Canada's biggest cable companies, is buying the CityTV stations from CTVglobemedia, which merged with Chum, but as part of the deal, had to divest the five City TV stations, since CTV already owns stations in Toronto and the four other Canadian markets.

Rogers owns several cable networks, radio stations, The Toronto Blue Jays and the Rogers Centre (formerly The SkyDome.)

However, the CRTC did allow to keep the A-channel (CIVI) in Victoria, British Columbia, which is adjacent to Vancouver, providing that the programming on the two channels are only duplicated no more than 10 percent of the time. CTV already has an O&O in Vancouver, CIVT (on analog over the air Ch. 32.) CTV affiliated with CHAN-TV (formerly BCTV), on Channel 8 from 1960 until 2001. CHAN is now with Global, which was on one of the stations Rogers is buying - CKVU-TV (Vancouver underwent a huge affiliation switch in 2001, similar to what happened in several U.S. markets in 1994 and 1995 when New World stations dumped their big 3 network affiliations to hook up with Fox.)

CityTV was noted for its large amount of local programming in Toronto, including groundbreaking shows including Breakfast Television (an unusual daily morning news show) Fashion Television, and SexTV (Yes, you heard me.) The format was the brainchild of Moses Znaimer, who imported the format to other stations in Canada.

CityTV also was the first broadcast station in Toronto to broadcast with a digital signal.

updated/corrected 2007-06-13 at 21:45

The TV Viewers' Bill of Rights

Maureen Ryan writes a smart article in today's Trib telling us that we viewers' have rights - the right to have shows last more than two episodes (patience is the key...), the right to tell us when a show is being moved or pre-empted, the right to watch a show online and not freeze up (I'm talking to you ABC and Comedy Central), and more importantly, the right to have shows air continuously and not take six-to-eight week breaks so you can save your remaining episodes for the May sweeps (Heroes and Ugly Betty fans, you know what I'm talking about...)

And thus, Ms. Ryan presents The TV Viewers' Bill of Rights. And the T Dog Media Blog agrees with each and every point.

Mr. McMahon is dead. Dewey defated Truman, too.

Mr. McMahon was in a limo in which it exploded, and he is presumed dead.

And if you believe this, then:

- The Trix rabbit will steal your cereal this morning.

- Rush Limbaugh and Barack Obama will become best friends.

- NBC's new fall lineup will vault the network to No.1

- WGN-AM will fall to 30th place in the next Arbitron book.

- Deal or No Deal will replace its lovely models with 26 Rosie O'Donnell lookalikes.

- Paris Hilton will become America's Sweetheart.

- The CTA's subways will be free of that urine smell.

- The Tampa Bay Devil Rays will win the World Series this year - or any year.

- You're an idiot.

Like Mr. McMahon (yeah, right) WWE wrestling has been "presumed dead" for the last five years...

(But you have to admit it... the ending here was more satisfying than The Sopranos...)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Groups petition to stop Tribune

Several media activist groups have petitioned the FCC to stop the sale of the Tribune Co. to billionaire venture capitalist Sam Zell.

The groups in question are the United Church of Christ and the Media Alliance, as well as the Media Access Project.

They are calling for the FCC to reject the deal because the company would own a newspaper and a TV station in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and Hartford, Conn.

The new deal also brings Chicago into the mix, because since Tribune Co. is being sold, the grandfather status that Tribune held to own the Chicago Tribune, WGN-TV and WGN-AM does not apply.

However, several key Illinois members of Congress - both Democrats and Republicans - wrote a letter to the FCC in support of the sale with no conditions, saying that the Tribune combo serves Chicago residents better.

Mini Think Tank Thought: Who are these outsiders to say what is good and what isn't for Chicago area residents? These activist groups aren't based here. These guys aren't doing us any favors. I'm against media consolidation, but this is an exception to the rule. Tribune has done a good job serving the residents of Chicago well, and the Chicago Tribune is one of the best-written newspapers in the Midwest, as opposed to the joke newspaper across the street. WGN-AM has ranked in the top 3 for decades, and WGN-TV is a successful CW affiliate.

The Illinois delegation seems to get it. They know what's best for its constituents. Activist groups like the Media Access Project do not. This group and its media activist ilk think that the Sears Tower is on "Michigan St." and the name of our ballparks are "Wrigley Stadium" and "U.S. Cellular Arena". Localism, indeed.

A breakup of the Tribune Co. could invite a buyer from outside the Chicago area to acquire any one of the properties - without our town's best interests in mind.

Approve this deal with no conditions. These groups that look out for Chicago's best interests from New Jersey need to stay there.

Screw you

That's what Sorpranos creator David Chase basically said to its fans last night's series finale as the screen went to black - in the middle of the final scene.

Well, at least no one went to jail (Seinfeld), it wasn't a figment of someone's imagination (St. Elsewhere), and nobody woke up next to Suzanne Pleshette (Newhart - still the best series finale ending of all time.)

Howie Mandel heads back to daytime as host of "Deal"

TV Week is reporting that Howie Mandel has accepted a deal to host the syndicated version of "Deal or No Deal" that will now premiere in the fall of 2008. The show will be syndicated by NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution.

It is expected that the same production team behind the prime-time show will also be behind the daytime syndicated version as well. It is not known though, whether or not it will be a half-hour or hour version. An half-hour version could make the show more playable in early fringe or prime access time periods.

Prime-time game shows being converted to syndicated strips aren't new. Buena Vista Television put Who Wants To Be A Millionaire in syndication in 2002 and recruited Meredith Vierra as host instead of Regis Philbin, who hosted the prime time version on ABC (He turned down hosting the syndicated version.)

Before that, NBC syndicated The Weakest Link as a syndicated strip, but used George Gray as host instead of Anne Robinson, who fronted the NBC prime time version (as well as the British version.)

Of course, the reverse of this has worked as well - very well. Wheel of Fortune and the first version of Family Feud are the best examples of network daytime game shows that became blockbuster hits in nighttime syndication. Pat Sajak hosted both versions of Wheel (until 1989 when he only did the nighttime version) and Richard Dawson hosted both versions of the first Feud. The second version of Feud also had concurrent runs (until 1993 when the network version was canceled), with Ray Combs as host of both. In 1994, Combs was replaced in the syndicated version by a returning Dawson.

Other shows that had concurrent network/syndicated runs (either on a stripped or weekly basis) included The Price is Right, The Match Game, Let's Make A Deal, Hollywood Squares (the Peter Marshall version), The $20,000/$25,000/$100,000 Pyramid, and Win, Lose, or Draw.

For Howie Mandel, this marks a return to daytime television for the comedian. He starred in the short-lived Howie Mandel Show (when he had hair) during the 1998-99 season, and starred in the Saturday Morning animated series Bobby's World, which was later stripped on Fox's weekday afternoon schedule. He also starred in the Emmy-winning drama St. Elsewhere during the 1980's.

NBC Universal, meanwhile, is launching two new shows this fall, The Steve Wilkos Show (a Jerry Springer spinoff) and Reel Talk.

The XM/Sirius merger is on the clock

No, we're not back to our lame "on the clock" anthology before the NFL draft.... but the XM/Sirius merger really is on the clock. The FCC has accepted the application for the merger, and now it has started the unofficial 180-day period of reviewing the deal.

Comments and petitions for and against the deal are due July 9 and responses are due on July 24.

The NAB is against the merger, but it has support from various minority groups, who feel the merger will represent more programming opportunities.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Summer of Woe

In the Rash Report from Ad Age, Josh Rash of Minneapolis ad agency Campbell Mithun, discusses the stumbling summer season so far - from barely non-existent Stanley Cup ratings to disappointing ratings for Game 1 of the NBA Finals, from lackluster premieres of summer shows to viewers tuning out repeats on the broadcast networks - in favor of fresh fare on cable. He points out that broadcast ratings are down 40 percent for the top 10 shows in the adult 18-49 demographic, compared to the final week of the May sweep.

He forgot to mention the Cubs and White Sox, who are suffering from their own summer of woe. Watching them so far this summer is about as painful as watching the networks' lineup. The beach, anyone?

Showdown looming in Congress over Internet radio

It looks like the fate of Internet radio is going to hinge on Congress.

Four major companies who stream on the web - RealNetworks, Yahoo, Pandora, and Live 365 sent letters to all 535 members of Congress regarding the increase of royalties that will have to be paid effective on July 15, with rates that were retroactive to January 2006 due immediately.

The companies said that Congress should look again at the rates and if they go into effect, it could bankrupt the industry.

Sound Exchange, the outfit of the RIAA who collects the fees media pays for royalties, has indicited that it will not go down without a fight.

Today, the Chicago Tribune weighed in on the issue, and it's saying what almost everybody else is: The new rates are bogus and will do more harm than good. Everybody but the greedy RIAA and the SoundExchange.

CRTC approves CTV-CHUM marriage

Canada's version of the FCC, the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission, approved the merger between CTV Globemedia and CHUM, Ltd. However, the comission did not approve thhe transdfer of five television stations - in Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver, given the fact that CTV already owns a television station in each market. Hadn't it done so, it would have created duoplies in those markets - common in most major television markets south of the 49th parallel.

The approvals greenlights CTV to acquire seven TV stations, 34 radio stations, and in whole or part, 20 specialty cable services.

The Friends of Canadian Broadcasting praised the deal, as did the Association of Canadian Advertisers, especially the part where those five TV stations would have to be divested.

At least one government agency, albeit in another country, got it right.

... and so is Isaiah Washington from "Grey's"

Yep, he's gone too. Though they should've fired the writers for coming up with that stupid ferry arc.

You think Zakk and Isaiah will be hanging out with each other drinking heavily today?

Zakk Tyler out at the Loop

WLUP-FM, or The Loop, has dumped afternoon personality Zakk Tyler after two years of underperforming ratings in the afternoon time slot. A rotating wheel of guest jocks will fill in until a new afternoon show is ready.

A lot of people have criticized Tyler for his obvious lack of talent. Who knew?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

"Pirate Master" walks the plank

Let's play the analogy game: Survivor is to Pirate Master as is Scooby-Doo is to Goober and the Ghost Chasers.

Okay, Anyone wants to take bets on how long Pirate Master will last? Judging by the ratings, this show should be banished to Saturday Mornings like Goober (which also wasn't a ratings winner.)

"House of Payne" rocks in debut

In what could be a very good sign for broadcast stations (such as WCIU) who bought the show (and for Lionsgate-owned syndicator Debmar-Mercury), Tyler Perry's House Of Payne premiered to big numbers last night on TBS - with a 3.2 household Nielsen rating and 5 share, up 94 percent from its Everybody Loves Raymond lead-in (1.6/3). Not only that, the program, which featured two half-hour episodes, grew ratingswise from first episode to second.

The program received tons of promotion during Turner's telecasts of the NBA playoffs.

And (not) surprisingly, Payne drew more viewers than the Stanley Cup Finals on NBC, which managed only a 2.1/3, and Hidden Palms on the CW, which drew a 1.3/2.

Game 5 of the Cup Finals drew just 2.9 million viewers and a weak 1.2 in adults 18-49.

The renewal of NHL games on NBC next year, as well as that of Trump's low-rated beauty pageants, is perhaps one of the reasons NBC programming head Kevin Reilly lost his job.

updated 2007-06-07 at 15:40

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

"Jericho" to return!

"But stop sending us nuts", says CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler, fearing that someone at the network may have peanut allergies (yeah, right.) The fans got a seven episode renewal for midseason.

Tyra takes talk show to New York

Her daytime talk show, going into its third season, is moving to New York this fall. Will "Top Model" follow? It would be nice for Tyra Banks' reality show to go back where it belongs.

Barely done

One thing Barely Today didn't want to do is barely get viewers. As a result, NBC-owned WMAQ-TV has dropped the show and will expand its morning newscast to 4:30 a.m. starting Monday, where Barely Today previously aired. The program was hosted by Bruce Wolf, who will now be reassigned to sports anchoring and reporting duties during the morning newscast.

Playoffs? Playoffs? Mora demoted, Johnson promoted

No, we're not talking about former NFL coach Jim Mora talking about not going to the playoffs.

But if WBBM's newscasts were a sports team, it wouldn't make the playoffs. And as a result, changes must be made.

And so, Antonio Mora is out and Rob Johnson is in after a shakeup at CBS-owned WBBM-TV's perennially low-rated 10 p.m. newscast.

This comes after WBBM has lost some steam against Fox-owned WFLD-TV's newly launched news show at 10, with the upstart beating the veteran on some nights in household ratings.

Johnson will take over the anchor chair alongside Diann Burns effective immediately. Mora will only do the station's 6 p.m. news and the station's Sunday morning newsmagazine show, Eye On Chicago.

Mora has eighteen months left to go on his contract. Odds are he may be looking for someplace else to work after that.

WBBM's 10 p.m. newscast has lagged behind its rivals, far from the days when Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson headed the newscast, which was No. 1 in the ratings from the mid-1970's to the mid-1980's.

Even CBS' successful prime-time lineup hasn't helped the station. In fact, CBS programs have done poorly in Chicago, with over-the-air signal issues and a high channel number (for a broadcast station) on Comcast cable systems (22 on most systems.) Only Ion's WCPX has a higher channel number. Plus, WLS-TV's two-decades dominance (with the still very popular Oprah Winfrey show) doesn't help either.

Even shows like Survivor and CSI haven't attracted the same buzz in Chicago as Ugly Betty, Grey's Anatomy and Desperate Housewives has.

And WMAQ-TV's 10 p.m. newscast hasn't been hurt much by the network's weak prime-time lineup (not so much for other NBC stations - although some, like WRC in Washington, D.C. and KUSA in Denver have kept their ratings dominance.)

On the bright side for WBBM, it's 5 p.m. newscast with Johnson beats WMAQ's (thanks to the Dr.Phil lead in.)

Still, in a market like Chicago, where a lot is passed down from generation to generation - which now includes WLS' newscasts - and at a time when other viewers are tuning out local newscasts and primetime altogether, thanks to the continuing fragmentation of the audience and use of DVRs - it's going to be harder than ever for WBBM-TV to attract viewers to its 10 p.m. newscast.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

NBC scores lowest ratings in history last Saturday

With what else? The Stanley Cup Finals, of course.

And the Canadian posters are blaming the United States' love of mindless dramas and even more mindless reality TV for the very low Stanley Cup ratings, never mind that eight of the top ten highest-ranked programs on Canadian TV two weeks ago were U.S. programs like American Idol and CSI.

Of course, we have a different reason in Chicago, and it has something to do with the local Westside Hockey Club being run like our local and state government....

"Jericho" to return?

All right, so CBS didn't have to deal with bags and bags of peanuts back in the day when there were fan campaigns to save Cagney & Lacey and Designing Women. But it's not the '80's anymore, isn't it?

Taking a page from the Roswell playbook (except it was bottles of Tabasco sauce that was sent to UPN), fans sent bags of peanuts to CBS executives to protest the cancellation of Jericho. Well, this idea was so crazy, it just might have worked.

Comings and goings

Mrs. Fortman - Joey Fortman, that is - is leaving the morning show at Nine FM, so she could can move to Philadelphia with her husband, who was named program director of WPEN-AM. No word on a replacement.

Also, Kenard Karter has been named music director at urban contemporary WGCI-FM, replacing Tiffany Green, who exited the station in February. Karter will continue to hold on the overnight shift on Sunday mornings, from 2 to 6.

Monday, June 04, 2007

WFLD receives award from AP for best local news coverage

This award as is about as valuable as an MTV Movie award.... pretty much worthless. (And in the B&C article, notice how it didn't even mention the station's call letters? It's written very amateurishly...)

"Extreme Makeover" reruns to TV Land

Aptly noted here as TV Land is on the verge of one....

NBC's prime-time costs WTMJ 10 p.m. win

WISN-TV, Hearst-Argyle's ABC affiliate in Milwaukee, beat NBC affiliate WTMJ-TV at 10 p.m. for the first time in seven years in the recent May sweeps, proving once again that prime time on NBC these days is a drag on its local stations.

Meanwhile, Bart is also watching The King of Queens in Milwaukee, because the off-network sitcom beat The Simpsons head-to-head at 10 p.m. But it's mostly a battle of their respective syndicators of the sitcoms: The stations both shows appear on are both owned by Sinclair.

Court throws out Fox's profanity case

A federal court has thrown out the FCC's profanity ruling against Fox over two Billboard Music Awards broadcasts and said the agency's "fleeting expletives" policy was "failing to articulate a reason basis for its change in policy."

You can download the decision here (thanks to TV Barn for the link; you must have a PDF reader to view the document.)

Finally, a victory for common sense.

And of course, now the idiot politicians are urging the idiot FCC to take the case to the Supreme Court.

The 1st Amendment will reign supreme. Not the wishes of stupid politicians and an overzealous FCC, who wants to protect kids from profanities, sex, and violence on TV. But it seems fruitless when kids can get shot - and killed - on a city bus.

No more daily Chicago Defender?

That's what this brief in MediaLife is implying - meaning that the struggling paper targeted to the African-American community may be cut back to twice-weekly or even just weekly. No word on when these changes might happen, but it's not looking good. It seems that the paper is also neglecting its website - it hasn't been updated today and there has been no new podcasts as of late.

Hearst-Argyle, YouTube hook up

In a groundbreaking move, Hearst-Argyle Television, one of the nation's largest TV station groups, has signed a deal with YouTube to provide content on the popular video-sharing website.

The deal means that five Hearst-Argyle stations - flagship WCVB (ABC) in Boston, as well as WTAE (ABC) in Pittsburgh, KCRA (NBC) in Sacramento, WMUR (ABC) in Manchester, N.H., and WBAL (NBC) in Baltimore will create channels on YouTube , which will feature news reports, local programming, weather, and local sports.

Google-owned YouTube and Hearst-Argyle will split any ad revenue.

Other Hearst stations including WISN-TV in Milwaukee will eventually follow. Hearst-Argyle owns 29 stations covering 18 percent of the country.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Power 92 jock arrested

Power 92's Miguel Garcia, a.k.a. Donnie Devoe a.k.a "The Freakin' Puerto Rican'" was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct on Wednesday after he became violent at a restaurant in south suburban Calumet City.

The DJ, who works at urban contemporary WPWX-FM in nearby Hammond, Ind. reportedly threatened customers at the restaurant, and left the premises before police arrived. However, they caught up with him a short distance away.

Crawford Broadcasting, which owns the station, had no comment, except to say the incident didn't occur on company time. Garcia worked his on-air shift as usual on Thursday.

UPDATE: The restaurant in question was a Pepe's. Yum.