Monday, April 30, 2007

Comcast buys out Cablevision

Comcast Corp. has bought out Cablevision's share in the FSN Bay Area and FSN New England sports nets for $570 million. Comcast will get 60 percent of the stake in FSN Bay Area (with Fox owning the other 40 percent) and 50 percent in FSN New England, giving it full control.

FSN Bay Area carries San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose sports teams, including the Giants, A's, Sharks, and Warriors (who are in the midst of an amazing playoff run.) FSN New England has the Boston Celtics and the MLS' Revolution. (NESN has the Red Sox and Bruins.)

The addition of those two areas gives Comcast a total of ten regional sports networks serving New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Sacramento, Baltimore/Washington D.C., the Mountain States (The Mtn. - Mountain Sports Network), and the Southeast (Comcast SportsSouth.)

It's likely that Comcast will rename the sports nets. Both were previously known as SportsChannel Bay Area and SportsChannel New England, respectively.

The sale leaves Cablevision is just its New York City sports nets, MSG and FSN New York.

Last year, Liberty Media acquired FSN Pittsburgh, FSN Rocky Mountain, and FSN Northwest (Seattle) sports nets (and a stake in DirectTV) from News Corp. in a stock swap and cash.

Baseball's hot; NBA, NHL playoffs not

The ratings for Major League Baseball games are up 20 percent on regional cable networks, according to Nielsen, and advertisers are clearly benefiting from the strong start. Some of them, like Fox's Detroit and Houston's regional sports networks, are averaging better ratings than the local CW and MyNetworkTV affiliates in prime time. Meanwhile, Fox's Saturday Game of the Week (which started early this year) has outdrawn both the NBA and NHL playoffs in the last week.

Baseball ratings have even outdrawn the Bulls-Heat playoff series. While the Bulls are back in the playoffs, the audience, nationally at least, are not.

Chicago ratings for the Cubs, White Sox and Bulls were not available. Perhaps because some of our local media writers don't find covering local television interesting anymore but instead, they somehow manage to churn out junk like this. Honestly, does anyone remotely care what Mike North's ratings are for his morning show these days?

Friday, April 27, 2007

Internet radio bill introduced

Two lawmakers have introduced a bill to reverse the net radio royalty increase fee that goes into effect on May 15.

Reps. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.) and Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) introduced the bill in a bi-partisan effort yesterday in order to overturn the Copyright Radio Board's decision that would increase the rate of royalties per song from .08 in 2006 to .19 in 2010, which would amount to a 30 percent increase each year. At that rate, the move would deplete internet radio stations' revenues and force them out of business.

As expected, Sound Exchange reacted negatively to the bill. Executive Director John Simson called the bill "anti-artist".

Click on on the right and send your information to your Senator and your representative, and let them know how you feel on this issue.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

E! goes Canadian

Independent station CHCH-TV in Hamilton, Ontario (outside of Toronto) is converting its' entire programming schedule (sans news and prime-time programming) to E! programming, beginning Sept. 1. This marks the first time that a U.S. cable network is taking over a broadcast station and its' repeaters in Canada.

CHCH owner CanWest has pledged to continue airing Canadian content on the station, but I have a feeling this will rub Canadians - particularly in Hamilton - the wrong way.

Family Guy clears 90% ; Adult Swim expands; Thorne in trouble?

Twentieth Television has cleared Family Guy in 90% of the country for syndication this fall, with 150 markets on board and 24 of the top 25 markets.

Outside of the core Tribune group, recent markets cleared included San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Phoenix, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Cleveland, Orlando, Pittsburgh, and Kansas City.

(The press release misidentified one of the Orlando stations. It's WOFL/WRBW.)

In Chicago, the program will air on WGN-TV beginning in September.

Meanwhile, the programming block Family Guy appears on, Adult Swim, is expanding to seven nights a week. Guess which one?

Adult Swim is launching two new programs - a live-action Internet spin-off called Fat Guy Stuck In Internet, and an animated drama, Superjail.

It's also producing new episodes of Robot Chicken, Aqua Teen Hunger Force (whose movie was released in theaters earlier this month) and The Boondocks, which hadn't aired any new episodes for the past year (The comic strip's since been retired), Moral Orel, Harvey Birdman, Frisky Dingo and Tim and Eric, Awesome Show, Great Job. (The last three are the same title of the same show. Don't ask.)

A Star Wars-themed Robot Chicken episode is also currently in production, with George Lucas doing a voiceover cameo.

The expansion begins on July 6.

And by the way, to those Boston politicians who thought those Lite-Brite promotional items were bombs? The Moonites are still giving you guys the finger. Next, they'll waste more time and taxpayer money by investigating current Orioles' and ESPN broadcaster (and former White Sox broadcaster) Gary Thorne's ludicious claim that the bloodied sock Curt Schilling wore in the 2004 World Series was painted on.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Rosie to leave "The View" (Updated)

Rosie O'Donnell announced that she is leaving The View today, after failing to come to contract agreement with ABC. She is expected to leave in mid-June.

Her arrival to the talk show brought increased ratings for ABC, but also controversy, as she has feuded with Donald Trump, and has frequently criticized the Bush administration.

O'Donnell is weighing many options, including returning to the first-run syndicated game as a daytime talk show host. O'Donnell hosted a successful daytime show syndicated by Warner Bros. , from June 1996 to September 2002. On that show, she was dubbed as "The Queen of Nice" (a far stretch from what she is today.)

Warner Bros. and CBS Television Distribution are among the studios interested in O'Donnell's services.

As for The View, there is no word yet on who would replace O'Donnell. Other panelists that left the show in recent years include Lisa Ling, Star Jones, and Meredith Vierra (who has moved on to Today.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

MNT: No upfronts for us

The struggling MyNetworkTV will not be at the lavish network upfronts next month - instead, it will hit the road to New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago for one-on-one meetings with media buyers.

That's the smartest move MyNetworkTV has made all year.

The network will completely abandon its soap operas by September (it launched with a all-telenovela format last September) in favor of non-scripted reality shows. Already, it's airing the International Fight League on Mondays, male-oriented specials on Tuesdays (beginning next week), and movies on Thursdays and Fridays, leaving just one night for the soaps.

Another week, another embarrassment for radio

This time, its WFNY-FM's ("Free FM" - or "FraudFM" as many have dubbed it) The Dog House with JV and Elvis, suspended indefinitely for racist comments made on the air in a phone prank made to a Chinese restaurant.

This follows another incident last week at a Augusta, Ga. station, where a talk-show host repeated Don Imus' infamous comments on the air -during a phone call to a black radio station.

We are losing analog signals for TV in 2009. Maybe the federal government should take away the analog signals for radio instead.

Where's Your Game?

Chicago sports fans are going to be in a tizzy trying to find their games tonight, as the Bulls, Cubs and White Sox are in action all at the same time.

Comcast SportsNet will air Game 2 of the Bulls-Heat quarterfinal (also available on TNT), while the Cubs-Brewers game will be on CLTV (or Comcast SportsNet Plus), and the White Sox-Royals game will be on Comcast SportsNet Plus 2, which in the Chicago area, means it will air on Total Living Network, a Chicago-based religious programming cable network run by Jerry Rose, who headed Christan Communications of Chicagoland, the former owner of WCFC-TV (now WCPX). WCFC was sold to Paxson Communications in 1998, and became a PAX (now Ion)-owned station.

Usually, Comcast SportsNet Plus 2 airs on the Comcast Network, an infomercial and leased-access channel, but that's being used for a Wolves playoff hockey game tonight (hockey playoffs in Chicago in April... a novel concept.... it just might work....)

WGN-TV, which holds the broadcast rights to all three, opted to stick with the female crowd with new episodes of Veronica Mars and Gilmore Girls. Both shows are "on the bubble" for next fall, and need all the help they can get.

Of course, it doesn't really matter... All the shows tonight will get slaughtered by American Idol anyway...

To find where your game is airing tonight, click here.

NBC picks up figure skating

Continuing in the tradition of picking up events nobody else wants (Miss USA, the NHL), NBC has agreed to a three-year deal with U.S. Figure Skating to air figure skating events. ABC and ESPN has held the rights for the last 12 years, but passed on the upcoming contract.

Hey NBC, Miss America is now available... make it a hat trick!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Corno promoted at Comcast SportsNet

Jim Corno has been promoted at Comcast Sportsnet Chicago to president effective immediately, from vice president and general manager. This move was a part of a management realignment at the three CSN regional sports networks. New presidents were also named at SportsNet New York (Steve Raab) and Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia (Stephanie LaFair Smith).

You're late on your rent for the last time...

Bob Vila is being evicted from his home at CBS - The syndication outfit has pulled the plug on Bob Vila's Home Again, ending a 28-year run on television. Low ratings and sub par weekend time periods (i.e. between midnight and 8 a.m.) apparently are to blame.

Bob Vila began hosting PBS' This Old House in 1979, but was dropped from the show ten years later after he started endorsing Sears' Craftsman products - a move that angered producers from House, who's show was underwritten by its rival, the now-defunct Montgomery Ward & Co. (Vila was replaced by Steve Thomas.)

In 1989, he signed a deal with Group W Productions, to host a weekly syndicated show originally named Home Again with Bob Vila to debut the following year (Vila's new syndicated show was sponsored in part by Sears.) It later became Bob Vila's Home Again, and two years ago became just Bob Vila.

Group W, of course, merged with CBS in 1995, the same year the network bought King World. Eyemark (CBS' other syndication unit), took over distributing Vila. Since 2000, the program has been a King World property. Last year, CBS folded its CBS Paramount and King World divisions into CBS Television Distribution.

This marks the second time in the last few weeks that a veteran syndicated weekly series has called it quits. Last month, The George Michael Sports Machine ended its run after 24 years.

Reruns of Bob Vila's shows (including This Old House) are available on the DIY channel. Bob Vila also appeared on Home Improvement, as a rival on Tim Allen's Tool Time show. (Allen returned the favor by appearing on Vila's syndicated show in 1992.)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Pump up your May

It's a month that has Mom's day, the NBA and NHL playoffs (Chicago doesn't apply for the latter - thank you Mr. Wirtz) - and lots of new TV. It's sweeps. Get ready for a month that features 24, Lost, and American Idol blowouts, Bulls playoff basketball, and to top it off - the network upfronts, which comes with its own drama, especially for Veronica Mars and Gilmore Girls fans: will they come back next fall?

The fun kicks off Thursday, but NBC is getting the party started Monday with the first of five fresh Heroes.

And then they're off....

Friday, April 20, 2007

Q101 changes

Overnighter James Van Osdol exits; so has afternoon guy Todd "Fook" Fooks.

From the has-been file.... (or in this case, X-File...)

Former X-Files star Gillian Anderson bashes TV in this piece from the London Telegraph via The New York Post, saying she's doesn't watch it, and doesn't care for it, and saying it's destroying society.

Talk about biting the hand that fed you...

Gee Ms. Anderson, how's that film career working out for ya? Still living off those X-Files residual checks? The only way this washed up has-been can get back in the press is to make some stupid comment.

Like Don Imus.

Google jumps the shark

Remember when Google was cool? Man, times have sure changed. One bit of advice: never hire Meredith from Grey's Anatomy to pitch your product.

'Betty', 'Grey's' hit season lows

And October Road hits a 4.2 in adults 18-49. With Grey's Anatomy idiotic ferry boat death arc and Ugly Betty's angling to become the next Will & Grace (as in too many long-faded guest stars), October is stepping up to the plate and deserves a second season renewal.

Clear Channel TV sold

Providence Equity Partners purchased the Clear Channel TV station group for $1.2 billion, in a deal that should close by this fall. Among the stations included in the deal are top-rated WKRC-TV (CBS) in Cincinnati, WAWS (Fox)/WTEV (CBS) in Jacksonville, and WOAI-TV (NBC) in San Antonio.


According to a story in Radio and Records, the Sound Exchange, which distributes and collects royalties from Internet broadcasters, are in negotiations with some commercial and non-commercial (public) broadcasters about future "business arrangements" that will help foster the growth of Internet radio, and fair compensation to the artists.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Was it the right call?

NBC's move to air a videotape featuring Virginia Tech killer Cho-Seung-Hui has sparked outrage around the country, from victims' families to people in the journalism profession, forcing NBC to confront the issue on the Today show on Thursday. The video was also picked up and aired by other news outlets.

Remember, this is the same news organization that revealed the name of the victim during the Kennedy rape saga in 1991.

You'd think they learn from their mistakes....

Get a grip

Parents are upset at a teacher for appearing in the current installment of The Bachelor - and the fact that she lied to school administrators in the Houston suburb of Sugarland - particularly during students' testing period (which were given by a substitute.) Scenes were even filmed in the classroom.

Get a grip, people. It's not like they found a DVD featuring the school's principal making out with the science teacher or something.

He Gone!

Bye, Bye Sanjaya....

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

T Dog Media Blog Think Tank: The day the music died

While America is still debating whether or not radio personality Don Imus should have been fired for comments he made about the Rutgers womens’ basketball team, something else of importance slipped by the wires on Monday….

"Copyright Royalty Board Denies Rehearing On Webcast Royalties"

This is a huge blow for Internet music streamers. This decision, which was made on March 2, means that the rates to pay Sound Exchange, in which the labels get 50 percent of the royalty fees, will go up substantially, which means either Internet radio stations will have to start charging a fee for the public to listen, or more likely, put many internet radio stations out of business.

The RIAA and Sound Exchange declared a victory for the artists’ community. AFTRA also praised the ruling.

In other words, it’s another boat Britney Spears can buy or another mansion Diddy can acquire or…

Further Sanjaya’s “career”.

Angry enough now?

What crap.

The record labels also win, because it means more profits for them. There are five major labels that control a bulk of the nation’s music.

But for everyone else: The webcasters, the Internet radio listening public – they lose.

One could wonder if terrestrial radio also benefits from this. They may not be celebrating, as word is out that the RIAA and Sound Exchange will be coming after them next.

So, what now? An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is not likely, and you can forget negotiation with the music industry. The RIAA and the Sound Exchange have already stated there is no room for negotiation.

Definitely forget Sharpton and Jackson. They flat out don’t care.

How about Congress? You can forget that, too. Since National Public Radio is one of the entities battling the music industry on the copyright rates, Republicans will not even bother this measure. They hate NPR because of their “perceived” liberal bias. Meanwhile, our senator from Illinois is too busy running for President to care, even though its 19 months until the freaking election. (Is this what we elected him Senator for? To run for President?)

And the timing of all this is suspect, too. While the nation was hotly debating the Imus controversy, the CRB thought they can slip this ruling through without anyone noticing or caring.

They have thoroughly succeeded.

I would use a lyric from Don McLean’s 1972 Number One smash American Pie, about “the day the music died”, referring to the tragic plane crash that took the lives of musicians Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson) in 1959. But I’m concerned the RIAA will come after me for just typing it in this blog.

It’s that’s bad.

I guess like a winning White Sox team, Internet radio was too good to last.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Chicago radio has hit two new lows

Yes, it's possible. Is anyone really surprised? (okay, okay... this isn't another Think Tank piece... ) Thursday, The Mix (have Eric & Kathy ever heard of Rick Rockwell and Darva Conger?) and Friday, The Score (It's like picking what team to root for...the Pistons or the Cavaliers.)

Yes, the radio industry is slowly ceasing to exist. Thank goodness for iPods, podcasts (especially Buzz Out Loud) and Internet radio.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The final word (hopefully) on Imus

Radio & Records is reporting that the Rutgers women's basketball team has forgiven Don Imus for his offensive comments, after he met with them.

It goes to show you that the Rutgers women's basketball team has more class than two certain activists who completely made fools of themselves, not to mention the African-American community. If the basketball team can move on from this unfortunate situation, so should we.

Read this

Instead of the garbage that's being posted on Radio-Info and the blogs from the major newspapers on the Imus controversy - read this:

From TV Barn's comments page: Our one-week-long national nightmare is over

"Of course there’s a place for it ... it’s called radio."

"Sad but probably true. Radio is desperate for attention. It's irrelevant to entire generations, having niched and formatted itself into a box. Who needs robotic FM playlists when you can make up your own robotic playlist and change it anytime you want on your iPod? Local news could have been a differentiator, but most stations ditched it 25 years ago. Program directors and consultants claimed it was a "tuneout". That manner of thinking was a tacit admission that the rest of a station's programming was not compelling enough to bring listeners back if they did tune out. So the only thing that now sets radio apart from other media are loud-mouthed, childish talk-show hosts who'll say anything to get a few minutes of attention. If CBS dumps Imus, I'll be surprised. Imus and Stern and Limbaugh and Beck are all the same, really. They hang on to radio because radio programmers lack the talent to come up with anything better and radio management is too afraid to try something, anything new. The disappointing financial performance of the CBS radio division is likely to be a factor, too. If current management gives up Imus, they're probably giving up their own jobs in a year or less."

-- Posted by Mark Roberts

Couldn't put it better myself.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

What ever happened to....

Baby Phat fashion creator Kimora Lee Simmons, who pretty much dropped out of sight since the 2004 failure of daytime talk show Life & Style (in which she was a co-host), and her divorce from hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons? Well, she's back on the tube in a new show tentatively titled Kimora, a comedy-reality show that premieres on Style this summer. The program will follow around the St. Louis native at her Baby Phat offices, as well as at home with her two daughters.

Now if she could only do a complete makeover to her hometown hockey team...

Bob Sirott heads to WGN-AM

All right, enough with Imus. We have some news on one of the best media personalities in Chicago (despite the fact he's a Cub fan.) Bob Sirott, who currently co-anchors with Marion Brooks on WMAQ-TV's 4:30 newscast, is returning to radio on a weekday basis - he's landed a weekday gig at noon on WGN-AM, hosting a hour-long magazine show. It begins April 30.

Sirott's career in Chicago has lasted more than 25 years, with stints at WLS-AM, WCKG-FM, WBBM-TV, CBS News (West 57th), WFLD-TV (Fox Thing In the Morning) and WTTW-TV (Chicago Tonight.)

CBS fires Imus

The other shoe has dropped.

T Dog Media Blog Think Tank: Shut up, already! Damn!

Three think tanks in one week... When this blog was started, I couldn't even do three in three months....

It seems that everybody and their mama has something to say on the Imus controversy. From Mancow to Eric Zorn, from Mike North to WMVP's Dan McNeil, they were talking about Imus. Who's next to comment? Dr. Phil? Simon Cowell? Tom Arnold? Sanjaya? The mayoral candidates in Country Club Hills? That screaming fat woman on Trading Spouses? Geez, do we even care about these useless people and their useless opinions on this subject? Good Golly, Miss Molly...

But you'll find a lot of talk about Imus on a lot of blogs and message boards.

Some of the posts on blogs and message boards about the Imus controversy have been quite amusing, others just downright mean-spirited and unnecessary. Particularly media related radio and TV boards.

On every board and blog I have visited on this subject, even the more intelligent ones, a lynch mob mentality has developed. Many posters are calling for Imus to be fired, all hip-hop and rap music to be banned from the airwaves, for black radio stations' FCC licenses to be revoked, even some posters ripping the Rutgers women's basketball team for over dramatizing the incident.

I say this to the posters: GET A LIFE.

Aren't there more important issues in the media industry that need to be dealt with? Like media consolidation? The fact that the RIAA is trying to take away Internet radio from us? What about the fate of Tribune's media properties in Chicago?

It seems some people (both black and white) are using the Imus incident to further promote their prejudice and their ignorance. (To see proof of this, go to, a waste of a website if I ever saw one.) The mainstream media likes this story because it is one that drives people to their outlets and to their web sites. It contains racism, sexism, and other ingredients so when you mix them together, BOOM! All hell breaks loose. The mainstream media makes money from racial polarization, which garners higher ratings or web hits - particularly for the cable news networks (It's ironic that Imus' show was on one.)

And as for the haters who want hip-hop and rap music out... give it time. You may soon get your wish, if this article is any indication. (Personally, much of today's hip-hop and rap music does suck. They demean women in the worst way, and it's getting worse. Listen to that awful song Laffy Taffy, and you know what I mean.)

That decision is not mine, or yours. The free market makes that decision. Keep in mind that Imus' MSNBC show was already struggling in the ratings, before it got axed. If it had higher ratings, the outcome would certainly been different.

And for those of you celebrating Imus' firing, don't forget - you still have O'Reilly, Rush, Hannity, Savage, Beck, and Mariotti to deal with. And Imus is still under contract to CBS Radio.

Look, if you don't like Imus, if you don't like black music, if you don't like country music, if you don't like O'Reilly, if you don't like WCKG - tune it out. Ignore it. Don't watch or listen or read. And get on with your life. If you have one.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

MSNBC dumps Imus

Link: TV Week

Alright, can we have our lives back now?

T Dog Media Blog Think Tank: Is anyone really surprised?

(This is the only time I’m talking about or mentioning the Don Imus controversy on this blog. With this raging on a lot of other blogs and message boards, there is no need for this blog to harp on it continuously - I’m starting to miss coverage on last week’s overblown story – Sanjaya’s foibles on American Idol. So, with that said…)

Is anyone surprised at what Imus said? It’s the radio industry. It’s cable news. They’re both jokes.

Is anyone surprised at all the media hype? The Imus fallout is generating a racial divide we haven’t seen since the O.J. verdict, Kanye West’s comments about President Bush over Katrina, and locally, Mayor Harold Washington’s death 20 years ago. It’s a national debate that’s being exploited for ratings, not solutions or dialogue between the races.

Someone on a Chicago Tribune blog said that this issue shows that America is still divided by race. Are you surprised? Just drive down Cermak Road between Kenton Ave. and Western Ave.,, I-57 between 167th and I-80 (between Tinley Park, Oak Forest, and Country Club Hills), and just look at the railroad tracks that divide the Canaryville and Fuller Park neighborhoods. Those roads or railroad tracks separate mostly black areas from mostly white or Hispanic areas. I still remember the Western Ave. dividing line here on the South Side during the 1980’s- blacks to the east, whites to the west. You sure you live here?

Is anyone really surprised that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, the two “official spokesmen” of the African-American community are protesting Imus’ remarks to only benefit themselves, not those of us who live in the African-American community?

Is anyone really surprised Imus’ ilk represents the worst of the media industry? As I mentioned in the Think Tank last week (was it that long?), big media wants the most bombastic people to write their columns, to host their talk shows, etc. In Chicago, we had Mancow on the air here for 12 years, and Jay Mariotti continues to pollute the sports section at Sun-Times. (At least Imus apologized for his remarks, while we’re still waiting for one regarding borderline racist comments Mariotti made about Shani Davis last year. Gee, Rev. Sharpton and Rev. Jackson, where were the protests over that?) Irrational people + controversy = ring, ring at the cash register. Do I really need to explain why Bill O’Reilly is such a success? (Watch the video below in the post titled Fight of the Night and you see what I mean.)

This Imus story could finally bring big media to its knees, since two media companies, NBC and CBS, are involved. Should they fire Imus? They should. It was an inappropriate comment about Rutgers women’s basketball team. If big radio companies can enforce their policies on profanity (thanks to the FCC and their crackdown after the Janet Jackson Super Bowl debacle), this should be a no-brainer. If they don’t, well… it’s just big media being… big media.

I think more energy should be spent trying to fight the evils of media consolidation. Attacking the root of the problem is the best solution to this, not protests and demonstrations by groups who are only there to promote an agenda. Remember those protests outside the NBC Tower regarding The Jerry Springer Show nearly ten years ago? Yeah. Those worked quite well. Springer’s show is still on the air and is still quite successful. (And yes, the guests on the show still fight. By the way, if they can still drop the gloves on Springer, they should continue to do so in the NHL. Just the talk of a fighting ban in hockey is stupid.)

So is anyone surprised about all of this? If anyone is, they need to get in the real world. And quick. If they fire him, good. If not, what can you do about it? It’s the radio industry ... What’d you expect? But I’ll tell you one thing… The suits will get their comeuppance someday for their inept decisions, so why worry about it? Let’s move on.

'The Ten' tanks

The Ten, WFLD-TV's new 10 p.m. newscast, which targets the 18-49 audience, didn't attract much of that demo it in its premiere Monday night, according to Nielsen and Trib columnist Phil Rosenthal. The Ten didn't even come close to to achieving that number ratings-wise, scoring a 0.8 rating and 2 share, finishing sixth in its time slot behind the more established newscasts and sitcom reruns (Most notable: The underrated King of Queens earning a 2.2/7 in the demo for WCIU.) In the main 25-54 news demo, The Ten didn't even get close to what The Simpsons achieved recently.

As for the show itself, it has been described as "news on speed" and one poster on a message board said it was "Too fast for Chicago". It was more sizzle than steak, and at times, I wondered if I was watching The Insider. You'd think Pat O'Brien was going to pop out of nowhere to give the entertainment report. It seemed like Lauren Cohn and weather bunny Amy Freeze each drank 15 lattes before going on the air.

All in all, if people in my demographic (18-49) want a mockery of a news program at 10 pm. - we'll stick with The Daily Show.

No more analog for Comcast in Chicago

Comcast is getting out of the analog business early and is upgrading its service to digital, with a rollout beginning this month and lasting until July. This is only inside the city limits of Chicago, and will rollout in the 'burbs later this year and lasting through 2008.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Tribune Syndication is back

It looks like Tribune Entertainment, which launched its first series back in 1982, At the Movies with Chicago movie critics Roger Ebert and the late Gene Siskel, is ramping up its first-run syndication efforts, after Tribune syndication executive Clark Morehouse met with new owner Sam Zell.

After a string of successes by launching talk shows Geraldo in 1987, and The Joan Rivers Show in 1989, and sci-fi series Gene Roddenberry's Earth: Final Conflict in 1997, the company has struck out in recent years with shows like Richard Simmons' Dreammaker, Talk or Walk, and Beyond With James Van Praagh.

The company also struck out in the early '90's with Geraldo's investigative series Now It Can Be Told and a talk shows hosted by Dennis Miller and Charles Perez.

Currently, the company syndicates weekend series American Idol Rewind, and off-cable late fringe strip South Park (for Debmar-Mercury.), plus the U.S. Farm Report.

Another series the company syndicates, the long-running Soul Train, has been on production hiatus for approximately a year, and Tribune is currently filling time periods with reruns of the venerable music series from the '70's and '80's. No word on if or when the series will resume production (Though this new game plan from Tribune does give hope that Soul Train may return with new episodes soon.)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The T Dog Media Think Tank: Let's Get Into It.

The Sun-Times: Let's Get Into It.

But will anyone get into it?

The paper relaunched last Wednesday to bring the paper out of the 1990s to the 21st Century, and to stem a continued circulation decline at the newspaper.

It has a ton of new features, and it has a new sleek layout and design, and a reemphasis on Chicago.

But it won't work. Why? The old problems still remain.

The reporting is still amateurish compared to the Tribune, the nightlife section still pales in comparison to the Tribune’s Metromix section, and most of the columnists still stink.

The Sun-Times jumped the shark in 1984 when former owner Rupert Murdoch bought the paper, and made it into a carbon copy of the New York Post, a paper he owns in New York. (He would sell it two years later.) It's been trying to swim back to shore ever since.

Here are a number of problems with the paper. One, the paper's image is tarnished by a series of scandals, including one involving circulation, and Conrad Black, the former CEO of Hollinger International, is currently on trial for defrauding the company that owns the paper.

Another problem: The columnists. Most of them stink. While some, like movie critic Roger Ebert and television/radio columnist Robert Feder (who’s one of this blog’s media friends) are respectable and are very good at what they do, others are there to clearly cause controversy and to sell newspapers - much like what the cable news channels do.

One of those "columnists" is Jay Mariotti. The chief sports writer at the Sun-Times is one of the most controversial in the country, and he is nothing more than a bully. Take last Thursday's column for example, where he blasted Chicago White Sox management for losing the first two games of the season. The first two. Mariotti has a personal feud with the team and management and its fans, and uses the paper's space to attack them any chance he gets.

Apparently, he forgot the White Sox won the World Series two years ago. He criticizes the organization, while the one that deserves to be slammed, the Chicago Blackhawks (which hasn’t won a Stanley Cup in 46 years and only one playoff appearance in the last decade, and has an owner that is the worst in all of sports), barely rates a mention.

Not only that, he has unfairly attacked other Chicago sports teams and athletes, particularly U.S. Gold Medal Winner Shani Davis, in which Mariotti wrote very negative articles about him during the 2006 Winter Olympics that were borderline racist.

But does the Sun-Times care? No. They really don't care that their paper is used by morons to launch personal attacks.

And that right there is the problem with traditional media. It's the same reason Fox News has Bill O'Reilly, The View has Rosie O'Donnell, Headline News has Glenn Beck, radio has Don Imus, and the Sun-Times has Mariotti. The more irrational the commentator, the more viewers or listeners they get, and the more papers they sell, and the more money they make. It's that simple. The traditional media sinks to the lowest common denominator so much, it doesn't surprise people anymore. That's why Imus' latest offensive tirade last week was mostly met with shrugs. When people heard this, they said, "What else is new? It's radio!" and "This is one of the reasons why the radio industry is a joke."

You wonder if all of this will get young people to buy newspapers? To watch their shows? To listen to their radio station? Probably not. They see all of this as a desperate attempt to speak to them. Newspapers don't sell well in this day in age, because they are out of touch with the public, especially the Sun-Times. They knew if they wanted to improve the paper, they should have junked the cheap elements like Mariotti and Mark Brown, and put more substance behind the paper, instead of some stupid redesign and adding even more useless features. Who cares about the 20 most heartbreaking moments in Chicago sports history? What about the best moments in Chicago sports history, like the Bulls’ six titles? Jordan’s winning shot in a playoff game against Cleveland? The White Sox's World Series title? Even the Wolves’ and Rush’s recent successes? Naw, heartbreak junk sells papers. We all know about the '69 Cubs already. We don’t need it shoved down our throats everyday. Nobody under 35 cares. Besides, is anyone in St. Louis still whining about the Game 7 debacle in the 1985 World Series? (other than those on the ’85 Cardinals, that is.)

This is exactly what I mean, and young people know this. Gen Y (as well as Gen X) doesn’t like it when they are taken for granted, and think that their opinion doesn't count. At least the Tribune speaks to this audience with RedEye, a successful, short-form tabloid that is now free. And the columnists speak to them, not down to them like they do in the Sun-Times. That's why you see many youngsters reading RedEye on the train, not the Sun-Times. Why spend 50 cents on a paper than insults your intelligence?

Mariotti and other big media loyalists don't seem to understand. They don't believe that media is changing and young people are absorbing the media they receive in different ways, including blogs (Mariotti hates bloggers too), streaming video (no, video from the AP doesn't count) and podcasts (even the Chicago Defender has podcasts- audio and video.) The Sun-Times has at least stepped up its content on its website, (including an online P.M. edition), but it has a long way to go to catch up with the Tribune. The New York Times. The Washington Post. The Birmingham News. The Wichita Eagle. Any newspaper in Mexico. (You get the point.)

But clearly, The Sun-Times has a no apology attitude to its paper, because it believes that it is invincible, despite the fact that sales are in the toilet, and will stay there for years to come. The format and layout has changed, but its reputation as a joke newspaper still remains. Speaking of which, young readers probably get more information from The Onion than they do the Sun-Times. Even a newspaper that's intended as a joke beats out one that truly is one in the pathetic sense.

On page 3 of last Wednesday’s newspaper, the Sun-Times claim in introducing the new format, "If we step on a few toes, so be it." In other words, they're saying that "We are a part of big media. We can say what we want and do what we want, right or wrong, and you can't stop us." Sounds like they’re stepping on the whole foot.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Fight of the night

Reality TV show producers and contestants - Survivor in particular - take notice -This is how an argument is done, courtesy of Geraldo and O'Reilly. Memo to Lisi and Dreamz : Your dust-up on that once-popular show last night was ABSOLUTELY PATHETIC. You two losers need to be schooled from these two losers.

UPDATE: This story is hotter than we thought. Not only the video's on YouTube, The AP picked it up and the exchange was also featured on ABC's Good Morning America. Don't worry kids, both men made up and there was no hard feelings.

UPDATE 2: The exchange is now being featured on Olbermann's show.

Updated at 8:00pm on 4-6-07

Deconstructing Feder

Robert Feder's column in the Sun-Times today:

- WCIU-TV is taking advantage of WFLD-TV's move of The Simpsons to 10:35 p.m. by taking out billboards proclaiming that "Now Bart can watch The King of Queens at 10 p.m." Somehow, I envisioned Bart watching Futurama on Adult Swim instead...

- Meet WKQX-FM's (or Q101) spokesman: retiring Price is Right host Bob Barker. He's tied in to the new Morning Fix show somehow. The target audience of that station is more familiar with Barker pummeling Adam Sandler in Happy Gilmore.

- To no one's surprise, news snake Joel Cheatwood, who ruined WBBM-TV's and WMAQ-TV's newscasts for life in the '90's, is now vice president of development for Fox News Channel. He fits in there perfectly.

- WVON's Roland Martin is hosting a Good Friday CNN special, What Would Jesus Do, tonight at 7 p.m.

- WTMX "dodged a bullet" in FCC license renewal proceedings by rejecting a challenge by some dope who claimed that the station failed to identify Skokie as the city of license and failure of providing local programming. If this person is as powerful as Feder thinks he/she is, this person should hook up with that other dope from Joilet who filed a complaint against V103 over The Tom Joyner Morning Show and buy the Cubs. After all, they have a better chance winning a World Series this year than the FCC revoking a license based on bogus complaints made by these two idiots.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Ten is coming

It's not a sequel to ABC's failed drama "The Nine", but "The Ten" is the catchy name of Fox-owned WFLD-TV's new 10 p.m. newscast that premieres on Monday. The new show will feature a more faster-paced newscast than its 9 p.m. newscast, and will have a weather report every night at 10:10 p.m.

The station is also trying new features for its new news show in order to distingush itself from the three major network O&Os in that time period. It will have its work cut out for it though: WLS-TV has been the market leader in that slot for 21 years.

WFLD does have something to crow about, though - in February, it beat rival WGN-TV at 9 p.m. in adults 18-34 (it finished first overall in that demo in late news), and it ranked second only behind WLS in late news overall in adults 18-49.

Meanwhile, The Simpsons will move to 10:35 p.m., where Homer will take on Jay and Dave. (Not to mention Hank Hill, Peter Griffin, and Everybody Loves Raymond.) Malcolm in the Middle moves to 11:05 p.m. (How about shifting Malcolm to sister WPWR and moving Scrubs to this time period instead?), and Seinfeld moves to 11:35 p.m.

Next March, WFLD acquires Raymond for prime access and late fringe time periods.

Matt and Trey takes on and take out Donohue

They took out the leader of the New York-based conservative Catholic League in last night's South Park, who clearly isn't a fan of the animated show. Can they take out Jay Mariotti next?

Wasted opportunity?

Arthur Greenwald of TVnewsday says that many ABC affiliates are passing up a chance to promote Dancing With the Stars locally. He compares the promo efforts of ABC-owned KABC-TV in Los Angeles, Tribune's WGNO-TV in New Orleans, and Hearst-Argyle's WTAE in Pittsburgh (which won in his book for its promo efforts over the Tribune station and the network O&O website.)

The Daily Show - Milwaukee style

The joke's on WTMJ-TV, Milwaukee's NBC affiliate for falling for a fake story that a blogger posted as an April Fool's prank. What's even funnier? - The blogger works for a website that's co-owned by Journal Communications - the same owner of WTMJ.

WCIU launching new kids show

WCIU-TV is launching a new locally-produced Saturday morning children's show called Green Screen Adventures, in which Chicago Public School students' stories will be transformed into real-life television experiences. The show will use the same green-screen technology used in TV weather reports, hence the name Green Screen Adventures.

The program airs Saturday morning at 7 a.m. and meets the educational requirements mandated by the FCC. All brodacast stations must air a minimum of three hours of educational programming per week.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

WLS-TV leader profiled by Sun-Times

Robert Feder of the Sun-Times interviews Emily Barr of ABC-owned powerhouse WLS-TV here in Chicago on her ten years at the station, and keeping it one of the highest-rated ABC stations in the country. She also talks about how the station is well-prepared for the transition from analog-to digital (if fact - it's already there - the station was the first in Chicago to air in news and its entire local programming lineup - including Wheel Of Fortune and Jeopardy! in high-definition.), and staying a step ahead through technology - by providing viewers with podcasts, exclusive-web content, and wireless feeds.

WLS has been the dominant station in Chicago for the last two decades, which still dominates Chicago Nielsen ratings sign-on to sign-off, in all local news time periods, in prime-time, and in almost all demographics. The station's dominance has outlasted the now defunct UPN, WB, and PAX networks (and soon to outlast The CW and MyNetworkTV), and has avoided the pitfalls that other Chicago stations have fallen into (i.e. WBBM-TV's plunge into tabloid newscasts and the boycotts by Operation PUSH - in fact that's part of the reason how WLS-TV came to be dominant in the first place - WMAQ-TV's Jerry Springer 10p.m. news experiment, and the questionable talent moves at WFLD-TV's news operations.)

Ms. Barr's success has attracted national attention as well. Here's a story from last December's Broadcasting & Cable, where as it talks about the Chicago market in general, it cites WLS-TV for its news dominance its near $1 billion in revenue.

With the exception of WSB-TV in Atlanta, no station dominates their competition in the top 10 markets like WLS does in Chicago.

The T Dog Media Blog Gold Standard Club

Dominant stations who crush their competition based on stability in talent (on-air and off), high-quality of newscasts, strong demos, and being a long time ratings leader:

WABC-TV (ABC), New York

WLS-TV (ABC), Chicago

WPVI-TV (ABC) Philadelphia

WSB-TV (ABC), Atlanta

KING-TV (NBC), Seattle

KDKA-TV (CBS), Pittsburgh

KUSA-TV (NBC), Denver

KCRA-TV (NBC), Sacramento

KSDK-TV (NBC), St. Louis

WFTV (ABC), Orlando

WRAL-TV (CBS), Raleigh-Durham

WLKY-TV (CBS), Louisville

WJAR-TV (NBC), Providence

WNEP-TV (ABC), Wilkes-Barre/Scranton

WWL-TV (CBS), New Orleans

WPTV (NBC) West Palm Beach, Fla.

NBC renews 30 Rock

NBC picks up 30 Rock for another season. Well, it they can renew the NHL and Miss USA.....

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

No charges in radio station water drinking stunt

The district attorney's office has determined that Entercom's KDND-FM (107.9 The End) in Sacramento, and its members (current and former) will not face any charges in the water-drinking radio stunt that killed Jennifer Strange back on January 12. She participated to win a video game system, where whoever drunk the most water without going to the bathroom the longest would win the system.

Entercom meanwhile, still faces a wrongful death suit from the victim's family, and the FCC is continuing to look into the incident.

I say those guys got off real easy.

Best commentary of the day...

Comes from Richard Huff from the New York Daily News, who blasts the right-wing Parents Television Council (or the Prick Tofu Crud as I call it) for declaring the V-chip a failure and blaming the industry and not the parents who let their kids watch the racy stuff. Good for him! (And good for him on ripping Jennifer Lopez's no-talent sis, too.)

Cancellations do come in threes

ABC's Six Degrees, Fox's The Wedding Bells, and CW's 7th Heaven (This time, it's for real.)

Monday, April 02, 2007

Syndication Update: 2008 development in full swing

After a lackluster 2007 development season, the 2008 syndication development season is packing some punch.

Warner Bros. has confirmed it has signed Chicagoan Bonnie Hunt to host a daily talk-show that would begin in September 2008. The Second City alum has appeared in numerous movies and TV shows, including Life With Bonnie and The Building (a personal favorite of yours truly) - both were projects with David Letterman.

Also in development from studios and syndicators: A possible talk show featuring DRosie O'Donnell (who hosted an earlier effort from 1996-02); A daytime version of Deal or No Deal, and perhaps the most puzzling one of all - A show that Anna Nicole Smith judge Larry Seidlin is shopping around - starring himself, of course.

Sam Zell wins Tribune auction: Cubs to be sold (Updated)

Chicago billionaire Sam Zell has won the auction for control of the Tribune Co., paying $13 billion to beat out two Los Angeles-area billionaires with a winning bid of $34 a share. Zell is also supporting the new investment with a $315 million influx of cash. In addition, Mr. Zell will became a board member, and will become chairman once the deal closes. An Employee Stock Ownership Plan will hold all of the company then-outstanding common stock, which means that employees will essentially become part-owners, with Zell acquiring 40 percent of the stock.

Tribune is also going private and is putting the Chicago Cubs, which it has owned since 1981, up for sale. This completes the exodus of big media companies owning sports teams, with News Corp., Time Warner, and Disney all selling their sports properties in the last few years. In addition.

Tribune is selling its 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago, which carries the Cubs, as well as the White Sox, Bulls, and Blackhawks, plus other local sporting events. The cable channel is also a FSN affiliate. Comcast Sportsnet launched three years ago after the four pro sports teams bolted from Fox Sports Net Chicago, which finally folded in June 2006.

Deal could have complications for cross-ownership rules

Tribune owns WGN-TV in Chicago, as well as top-rated WGN-AM and the Chicago Tribune. When the cross-ownership rules were passed by the FCC in 1975, prohibiting newspapers, radio stations, and television stations in the same market. Many media companies want the rules thrown out because of technological innovations (such as the Internet), and they feel the rules are outdated. The Chicago cluster is grandfathered in because they pre-date the FCC decision.

However, Tribune bought the Los Angeles Times in 2000, where it has owned KTLA since 1985, and purchased Newsday in New York, where it has owned WPIX-TV since 1948. Tribune had to obtain temporary waivers to keep the media properties. Tribune also owns the Hartford Courant and Fox affiliate WTIC-TV in Connecticut's largest city. Those waivers has since expired.

The new Tribune will now face regulatory and advocacy hurdles from anti-consolidation groups over the New York and Los Angeles media properties, and well as the Chicago ones, since the sale might invalidate the grandfather status. The battle over Tribune's Chicago properties could wind up being a huge battleground, given many advocacy groups are based here, including Operation Push.

The FCC though, has been in an de-regulatory mood, thanks to its 3-2 Republican advantage, and could sack the cross-ownership rules. In Canada, the Canadian Radio and Television Commission has already allowed Bell Globemedia (now CTVGlobemedia) to buy The Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper, and CTV affiliate CFTO-TV in Canada's largest market, and is weighing whether to let Bell Globemedia purchase CHUM, Inc. which owns radio stations throughout Canada (including CHUM-AM and FM in Toronto), and several TV stations, including the innovative CITY-TV also in Toronto. That would actually put CITY in a duopoly with CFTO, similar to the number of duopolies here in the United States. (The stations will continue to operate separately. That deal is likely to go through.

Whether or not if the FCC will let the Tribune has that same kind of luxury in the U.S. remains to be seen. It may not even matter. Newspaper industry experts think that Zell will sell some of the papers, especially the Los Angeles Times.

Update: Tribune shareholders lukewarm on deal (added 9:40pm)

Crain's Chicago Business is reporting that some Tribune shareholders are not too impressed with the fact their shares are being cashed out in this new deal, mainly because the share price should have been higher than it is now.

Complete coverage:

Chicago Tribune

Los Angeles Times

New York Times

Washington Post

Advertising Age


Broadcasting & Cable

Television Week

Crain's Chicago Business

Radio & Records

Media Life

Read the official Tribune press release here.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Tribune Watch: Board voting on Zell's offer

The Tribune's board of directors are voting tonight whether to accept a sweetened offer from Sam Zell, the Chicago billionaire who is one of two bidders for the company.