Friday, February 29, 2008

WLS-AM, Citadel cut jobs

This occurred as parent company Citadel Broadcasting posted a whopping $848 million loss in the fourth quarter of 2007. The personnel layoffs include:

Jennifer Keiper, news director ; Bill Cameron, city hall reporter; David Jennings, reporter; Christina Filiaggi, traffic reporter; Nate Clay, talk host and Jake Hartford.

Meanwhile, Citadel has laid off two at WABC in New York; WPLJ (also in New York) fired Rocky Allen; In Washington, WMAL fired talk show host Chris Core, and WJZW-FM has dropped its Smooth Jazz format, and replaced it with The True Oldies Channel. There are reports surfacing that Citadel's stations in Los Angeles and San Francisco have also been hit.

And there's more: And there might be more layoffs coming, particularly at WZZN. This is truly a sad day in the local media industry, just another reminder that this is a business first and only first. And with the economy further slumping downward, things are bound to get only worse.

Editor's Note: The title of this post was changed because yours truly found it was insensitive after some thought, particularly after the NIU shootings that recently took place. I apologize if anyone was offended. - T.H.

updated at 11:07 p.m. on 2008-02-29

Bobby Knight to feed hand that bites him

ESPN, whose Jeremy Schaap berated Bobby Knight in an interview several years ago, and made a mockery of him in the made-for TV movie Season On The Brink, which inaccurately portrayed his 1985-86 season at Indiana, has signed the recently-retired basketball coach as analyst for "Championship Week", beginning on March 12, and will appear on all ESPN platforms, including SportsCenter, ESPN Radio, and ESPN News.

I guess its easier to forgive when The Worldwide Leader in B.S. waives a check at you.

Hmmm... I wonder what Deadspin thinks about all this?

Local stations' sweeps numbers hit by writers' strike

Affiliates - who depend on their network's prime-time programs to draw viewers to their late newscasts - suffered ratings declines during the just-concluded February sweeps as the writer's strike forced the networks into reruns and were forced to air less-appealing reality shows.

Judging by the few markets available for review, NBC affiliates seemed to be affected less, thanks to a somewhat-resurgent network lineup thanks to the popularity of Deal or No Deal and American Gladiators, and the success of the Tonight Show With Jay Leno sans writers, while ABC and CBS affiliates were hurt more with their most popular shows in reruns.

As a result, NBC stations held on to their posts in late news, with many stations even showing increases from their network lead-ins.

As noted in a few posts below this one, NBC affiliate WTMJ won the 10 p.m. news race in Milwaukee, while WGN-TV beat all competitors from 5 to 9 a.m. here in Chicago this month, including ABC-owned WLS-TV (keep in mind WLS did tie WGN at 6 a.m.). Bad weather throughout the entire month drew viewers to local news in these markets - though ratings still do not match those of a year ago, as many viewers have a wealth of viewing choices at their disposal.

Here are sweeps results from a few other markets:

Philadelphia: Despite its parent network missing many of its popular shows, ABC-owned WPVI continued to dominate the ratings, doing something sister station WLS in Chicago couldn't even do - sweep all news dayparts. The loser: CBS-owned KYW-TV, which saw its ratings drop after firing controversial anchor Alicia Lane. Fox-owned WTXF also had a good book, with American Idol, Judge Judy, and the station's 10 p.m. newscast doing quite well (the 5 p.m. newscast however, still trails its competitors, tying WPSG-TV's People's Court in the process.)

Boston: NBC affiliate WHDH wins at 11, but ABC affiliate WCVB wins in other time slots. Fox-owned WFXT had a great month with Fox prime-time programming, and its 10 p.m. newscast drawing as many viewers as competing prime-time shows.

Washington, D.C.: NBC-owned WRC-TV bounced back from a so-so November sweeps and beat ABC affiliate WJLA-TV in the nation's capital. WJLA however, saw ratings increases in many of its newscasts. Fox-owned WTTG benefited from Fox's prime-time lineup, with its 10 p.m. news drawing more viewers than the affiliates 11 p.m. newscasts, and drew more viewers than WRC at 5 a.m.

Detroit: The motor city actually bucked the nationwide trend this February, with all three news stations showing increases for the month, thanks to hot local stories and cold, bad weather. NBC affiliate WDIV won at 11 p.m. over ABC affiliate WXYZ-TV, with Fox's WJBK drawing more viewers to its newscasts thanks to - all together now - American Idol and the Super Bowl. WDIV tied WXYZ at 5 p.m. despite no revelant lead-in while WXYZ won total-day household ratings. On the other hand, CBS-owned (and news-less) WWJ-TV finished way behind its other competitors.

Denver: What goes up in Detroit, comes down in Denver (and that includes the Colorado Avalanche.) February was a tough time to be a TV station, as many of Denver's outlets tumbled in the ratings, with the 10 p.m. newscasts on the three network affiliates - and total-day viewing in the market among broadcast stations - hitting a record low share. NBC affiliate KUSA-TV dominated and KMGH was in the Nielsen basement as usual, while Fox affiliate KDVR won prime. Of note is KUSA tying Oprah on CBS-owned KCNC-TV at 4 p.m. with a 12 share.

Orlando: Despite a lack of fresh popular programming at ABC, WFTV continued to dominate news time periods and total-day ratings sans prime, which went to Fox.

WTMJ wins 10 p.m. newscast in February

Thanks to harsh weather in Wisconsin all month long, Journal Broadcasting's WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee won at 10 p.m. in February, beating Hearst-Argyle-owned ABC affiliate WISN-TV.

The NBC affiliate benefited from a resurgent network line-up (albeit filled with second-hand fare), while WISN suffered without popular ABC shows out of episodes due to the writer's strike and alt shows like Dancing With The Stars on the bench for the month.

Of course, the main factor was WTMJ's win was the station's wall-to-wall weather coverage, which it snowed quite a lot in Milwaukee this month.

Ironically, Fox affiliate WITI was the only station at 10 p.m. to gain viewers, maybe in part due to American Idol fueling its 9 p.m. newscast (here in Chicago, viewers turn the channel when Idol is over.)

CBS affiliate WDJT-TV - like CBS-owned WBBM-TV here in Chicago - continues to struggle in the ratings, with the UHFer (Channel 58) a distant fourth.

As for the off-network sitcoms in the time period, WCGV's Simpsons was flat from last year, while WVTV's King of Queens dropped a share point. Both stations are owned by Sinclair Broadcasting.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Seacrest expands his business

He's more than a smarky TV host and a Los Angeles radio personality, but a businessman as well.

Ryan Seacrest's KIIS-FM morning show in Los Angeles is getting syndicated in a three-hour program for midday and afternoon airings in other markets.

Seacrest took over the KIIS morning gig from 22-year veteran Rick Dees in 2004.

The American Idol host is also taking control of his own destiny: In an agreement with Premiere Radio Networks, Seacrest will own and control a portion of the barter time being sold in the show. Seacrest is also selling his own time on American Top 40, the weekly syndicated radio countdown show once hosted by co-creator Casey Kasem and former L.A. radio personality Shadoe Stevens.

The goal is to bring more advertisers to radio and develop closer business relationships with them. Seacrest plans to do what marketers call "product placement", where instead of thirty and sixty-second spots, Seacrest mentions the products in passing on his shows. Seacrest works extensively with Coca-Cola, a prominent advertiser on Idol, and Proctor & Gamble, among others.

Seacrest has also renewed has deals with KIIS and Premiere to host American Top 40 (as well as the Hot AC version of the show.) Seacrest also has a production deal with E! to host E! Daily News, produce the network's Keeping Up With The Kardashians, and also hosts Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve.

He is also planning to launch his own website.

Do we have the next Oprah? Possibly coming soon: RS - The Ryan Seacrest Magazine and Ryan's Book Club, plus a new TV show: Ryan's Big Give.

Thought: Love him or hate him, you have to admire his entrepreneurial spirit. Good for him. And to the haters: He's taking control of his own destiny, unlike other radio and talk personalities who show up for five hours a day, run their mouths, attend a bunch of production meetings, and leave at the end of the day and take a check from The Man. And when they get canned, they whine like little girls.

If you are in the media business - you have to take control of your future. That's what Oprah Winfrey, Kimora Lee, Tom Joyner, Tyra Banks, Byron Allen, Martha Stewart, and other countless celebrities have done. They surely take nothing for granted. These people aren't looking for handouts from media companies - they want to be in business with them. There's a difference. Sadly, there are some people who have more respect for a bombastic radio personality who hops on stage at a political rally and slanders a presidential candidate, then gleefully accepts his six-figure check from The Man and runs back to his mansion in Kentucky while contributing nothing worthwhile.

Scrubs may move from NBC to ABC

Scrubs could be soon in the same company with the likes of Peter Gunn, Let's Make A Deal, Get Smart, Scooby-Doo, Family Matters, JAG, The Hogan Family, Step by Step, The Critic, Diff'rent Strokes, Taxi, and Buffy, The Vampire Slayer: series that has aired on more than one network.

ABC is reportedly picking up Scrubs for next season, which has aired on NBC since 2001, when the show was produced by Touchstone Television, which has been since rechristened ABC Studios.

Both ABC and ABC Studios are owned by The Walt Disney Co.

Throughout television history, more than fifty shows have switched networks. A handful, including The Price Is Right, has aired on as many as three networks (NBC, ABC, and CBS.)

Scrubs has been hurt by the writer's strike - ABC Studios had planned to produce eighteen episodes, but has since been cut down to twelve. The move to ABC would make financial sense for the network since it has already has an audience, and the network needs hit comedies - even if the "hit" is modestly-rated, such as Scrubs.

In other words, chalk one up for vertical integration.

Trivia: Even soap operas aren't immune to the network switcheroo. In late 1975, The Edge of Night became the first soap to change networks by switching from CBS to ABC.

WGN pulls upset in the mornings

The CW may be tanking, but Tribune's WGN-TV is thriving - its morning show ranked number one in the daypart (second item), besting ABC-owned WLS-TV in the recently concluded February book from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. - though it tied WLS at 6 a.m.

Meanwhile, not even the presence of American Idol and the Super Bowl has helped Fox-owned WFLD's Good Day Chicago. Why would the station change the name of the show back to what it was when it launched as a ratings-deprived program in 1993? As a result, those ratings are back in the basement.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Oh Shut Up, Part II

In the "why does this guy have a job department" (a question yours truly asks whenever he comes across a Jay Mariotti-written article), New York Daily News TV Critic and Robert Feder wannabe Richard Huff whines about New York TV News during "sweeps", never mind TV stations in Local People Meter markets (like New York and Chicago) de-emphasized sweeps years ago and you see these type of stories year-around.

Certainly this is an article more targeted to Greensboro, N.C. than to New York City, and treating your readers like they are from Greensboro really doesn't boost circulation, and there's reason No. 235 why newspapers are among "the walking dead".

"WWE Smackdown" bodyslams its way to My Network TV

It's My Smackdown now.

The WWE and News Corp.'s My Network TV have entered into an exclusive agreement to carry the two-hour WWE Smackdown, beginning in September. The program will enter season 10 on the mini-net.

Many former UPN affiliates (including WPWR in Chicago and WCGV in Milwaukee) aired Smackdown but when UPN merged with the WB to form CW in 2006, many of those stations lost the show. But now those same stations will have an opportunity to air Smackdown again.

The move is a boon for My Network TV, which has struggled outside the gate for the last two years with an all-telenovela format that quickly went bust on the onset.

No word on what night Smackdown will air, but it expected to air either Thursday or Friday.

Read the official press release from the WWE

UPDATE: In order for My Network TV to pay for acquiring Smackdown, it is asking affiliates to give back two minutes of adtime back to the network - on top of the two minutes it had already asked to give back. When the network launched in 2006, affiliates got a very generous 5-minute national/9-minute local ad split. Beginning this fall, the split will become more even, at exactly 7/7 with Smackdown having a 9/5 split.

Thought: This is a good move for both parties involved - for the WWE, which returns to many of those same stations it spurned when UPN and the WB merged to form CW. For My Network TV, the network gets a show that is a proven winner, and given the struggles at CW, this is an excellent opportunity for My Network TV to become a very serious contender and pass CW. If that happens, those former UPN affiliates-turned-My Net stations may get the last laugh. Ha.

Updated 6:00 p.m on 2008-02-26

Monday, February 25, 2008

Oscar least watched in 34 years

This year's Academy Awards, hosted by Jon Stewart, scored the lowest ratings ever by attracting only 32 million viewers, and averaging only a 10.7 rating in adults 18-49. The telecast was down 20 percent from last year.

Meanwhile, a native Chicagoan has snared an Oscar for the second straight year. Congratulations to Diablo Cody from southwest suburban Lemont (and no, she does not look like Amy Winehouse), who took home the Oscar for Best Screenplay for the movie Juno. Last year, Chicago native Jennifer Hudson took home an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Dreamgirls.

Our sports teams may suck - but we're winning at the Oscars! All right, you all can wake up now...

Ladies and Gentlemen - the 1,000th post.

The T Dog Media Blog has reached its 1,000th post. And in those one thousand posts, what has we learned? Well...

- Jim Belushi still has no talent whatsoever.

- Chicago celebrities in Hollywood can be just as much as a jerk as anyone else - except the one who won the Oscar last year.

- If you a guy, or if your over the age of 50, advertisers don't care about you - unless you're interested in life insurance or Axe body spray.

- No one thought the FCC could've been run worse than by anyone other than Michael Powell.

- You can jump the shark and become even more popular. Bobby Ewing in every shower, stat!

- You can be the toast of the town by saving a cheerleader one season, and be scorned the next - a familiar scenario to a certain Bears QB.

- If you work and radio, do a good job, and become number one, you can still get fired.

- You can have no talent and still land a syndicated radio show.

- A radio station that is touted as an alternative can turn out to be even worse than the big boys.

- Reality shows can reinforce negative stereotypes against minorities - even if its a show hosted by one.

- Jay Mariotti still sucks.

- Local news - in any market - is a joke.

- You can go on strike - and still command more respect than a certain bunch of political hacks who need to have an opinion on anything and everything (and really need to shut the hell up.)

- You can blow yourself up in a limo and "survive" - while another person in your organization - in real life - can kill himself and his own family a few days later.

- You can pick a show to be number one on a best show list for the year - only to quickly tumble and crash (hey, yours truly can make a mistake once and awhile) by changing the backstory of the series because the writers are completely out of ideas and giving long-time loyal viewers the middle finger in the process.

- Any medical hack can host a talk show - and fail trying (and by the way, we got five of them hosting a show together this fall.)

- You can run a right-wing organization interested in protecting children from the "evils of TV"... but not the evils of gun violence, which kills more children than any TV show. But since those children who are killed or hurt live in predominately black or Hispanic neighborhoods - oh gee whiz, why should they care about that?

- And finally, don't write posts saying they're on the clock. It kills your cred...

- But you know what? This is still a fun business to cover and talk about. For every story about something stupid, there are five that are smart. Here's to another thousand posts!

T Dog's Think Tank: Did "The Simpsons" Jump the Shark? (Updated)

Originally published on January 30th, but slightly re-written to further explain why the show finished first on the Excellent 10 list last year and to address the series' last few seasons.

When I read the synopsis for January 27th's Simpsons episode That '90's Show, yours truly was worried. Really worried. Meredith's ferry boat crash-worried. Well, I tuned in, and my worst fears were confirmed...

Holy Humdrum, Batman, what the heck was that? This episode was so bad, The 700 Club marathon that aired earlier that day was funnier. Who wrote this episode, the Cavemen staff? (all right, the "Weird" Al bit and the President Bush joke at the end were funny... but it was the only times I laughed while watching this.)

And the fanboy reaction was quite what I expected (split.)

So I guess continuity doesn't matter in this series anymore. For those of us whose been with the series since day one, this episode was the ultimate slap in the face - though I concede younger viewers than me (I'm 35) and newbies probably won't have a problem with it.

As long-time fans know, the backstory of the show had Marge and Homer meeting in high school in 1974, marrying in 1980 (the same year Bart was born), having Lisa in 1984, Maggie coming along later in the decade, and so on.

But now with That '90's Show, they changed the backstory completely (a writing no-no), with Marge and Homer meeting in the 1990's with a ultra-lame plot around Marge dating a college professor. Homer is so ticked off, he invents grunge. At the end of the episode, I was hoping Marge would wake up and find Homer in the shower and it was all a Dallas-inspired nightmare.

Instead, it was this episode that was a nightmare. I guess cutting the show mid-scene Sopranos-style with Lisa trying to parallel park outside was too easy.

So I guess Homer really didn't go into outer space, Montgomery Burns really wasn't shot, and Bart didn't really Do The Bartman (there's an upside, I guess).

And to think yours truly picked this show as the number one show of 2007 over Family Guy and South Park. Rest assured The Simpsons won't be number one in 2008.

The season started off great for The Simpsons, its 19th, coming off the momentum of the success the franchise had at the box office last summer. What happened? It's quickly running out of gas faster than the 2007 Detroit Lions. Did they suddenly hire Matt Millen to supervise the writing staff? The letdown curse strikes again.

Ah, the 2007-08 season. The season of the letdown. Top Model, Survivor, Heroes, Ugly Betty (ratings performance only), the Bears and the Bulls. And to top it off, a writer's strike. And now, The Simpsons. Is it time for yours truly to invest in some new programming incentives? I'm going to have trouble finding even five shows to put in the The Excellent List for 2008. Can reruns of M*A*S*H count? Don't be surprised if Pardon The Interruption is this year's number one show, in which Armageddon truly has come.

Some say The Simpsons stopped being funny around Season 11 or so. They may be right, but it did manage to spurt out a couple of funny episodes a season since then. But even those have come few and far between lately, especially in the last three years. I'm sorry, but the writers are clearly out of ideas after nineteen seasons if they have to resort to rewriting the series' backstory, and relying too much on tired gags and plots. This awful pace picked up in the series' last few episodes.

So, why did yours truly make it number one for 2007 on the Excellent 10 list? Because there were really no other options left, with South Park, Family Guy, and Heroes also in creative decline (plus I gave The Simpsons Movie a lot of credit. Perhaps too much credit.) It wasn't easy putting that list together.

The lesson learned here is, maybe we shouldn't invest so much time and energy and emotion into a TV show. People who do this are often mocked by people who actually have lives. Ask any Star Trek or Lost fan. It's not easy being a fanboy (I should know.)

So yes, I think The Simpsons Jumped the Shark after the January 27th episode. But who knows? Both Grey's Anatomy and the WWE jumped the shark last year, and they are as popular as ever. It defies all common sense, which seems to be lacking in television today and the public couldn't care less. Today's audiences - especially younger viewers - watches television passively, not actively. If we had quiz show scandals today, it wouldn't be a big deal. If you live in the Chicago area (where scandals are about as common as snow in the wintertime), you know this already.

And so, the writers finally returned from the picket line, ready to write again. But the way this current season has collapsed for The Simpsons, their writers should stay there.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The "Price" was definitely right

L.O. to the freakin' L...

While Deal or No Deal couldn't give away one million dollars on their show (even after filling thirteen suitcases with the prize), the prime-time version of The Price Is Right and host Drew Carey actually went out and did it - when contestant Adam Rose came within $880 of the actual retail price in the Showcase Showdown. Rose not only walked away with the showcase, he also walked away with a cool million (Rose won a total of $1,153,908 in cash and prizes. Not bad for a teacher!)

So while Price gave away one million, Deal focused on gimmick (The Banker - a.k.a Jeff "Doogie" Zucker - smashing a contestants' piggy bank) after gimmick (suspending a contestant's husband high above the stage exposing his fear of heights) after gimmick (a contestant said she was afraid of cats - and guess what - out come the cats.)

So while Price may not match Deal in the drama department - or in the ratings - at least Price did something that Deal has not done to this point - make someone a million dollar winner. And to this game show fan, Deal needs to get serious and cut out the gimmicks and speed up the game - before the viewers start to bail. And with the program entering first-run syndication as a daily strip in September, it needs to do this and fast.

BTW: In case you're wondering - yes, there is a connection between the two shows - somewhat. Claudia Jordan (Suitcase Model Number 1) was a Barker Beauty on Price before she joined Deal in 2005. So, what were her days on Price like? Don't ask.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The week in FCC nonsense

One of the reasons why yours truly discontinued the Worst Person In Media This Week award because the FCC and the Parents Television Council would be runaway winners every week...

- FCC fines thirteen Fox affilates for airing racy Married By America episode (what was that show again?)

- FCC fines 40 ABC stations for Feb. 2003 NYPD Blue episode (down from 52; some fines were dropped) - ABC stations pay fine, will take FCC to court

- Parents Television Council files indecency complaint against NBC's Las Vegas for last Friday's episode

Yes, Castro has stepped down and the Soviet Union no longer exists, but the real card-carrying commies are still among us - and they are living in the United States and go by the initials FCC and PTC.

The digital subchannel revolution

Digital broadcast network The Tube folded last September and went belly up. But that hasn't stopped digital networks from emerging and vying for station's subchannels.

Whether its classic TV or Hispanic-targeted programming, digital broadcast networks could change the face of broadcast television as we know it.

And this revolution will be televised.

At the recent NATPE convention, digital networks were in full force, vying for stations' attention - Retro Television Network, LATV, World Championship Sports Network, .2Network, and Mexicanal.

The digital networks are targeting niche audiences - Latinos, movie buffs, sports fans, and classic TV junkies - and they are taking advantage of the government's mandated translation of analog broadcasting to digital.

Many of those stations are "multiplexing" - i.e. using digital subchannels. For example, WTTW has 11, 11.1 (HD),11.2 (simulcast of regular programming), 11.3 (Create), and 11.4 (Spanish language.)

This article from TVNewsday examines the revolution and the challenges that lie ahead for the digital nets (i.e. getting ratings above a 1.)

German "Idol" faces fine from government agency

For humiliating a teenager who later hyperventilated and collapsed. Please don't give the FCC any ideas!

Cubs games slowly getting booted off WGN

See if this makes sense: WGN is booting more Cubs games to make room for more CW programming. Just 63 regular-season games this year, a record low. But what you get instead? More Top Model. More Crowned. More Pussycat Dolls. More crap. More of a network that achieved a zero rating on a recent Sunday evening. Yours truly is a Sox fan and even he thinks this is totally retarded.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Diann Burns out at 5 p.m.

In a move that is certain to generate a lot of heated discussion, Diann Burns is out as anchor at 5 p.m. at CBS-owned WBBM-TV and is being replaced by newbie Anne State, who is coming from San Diego beginning in April. Ms. Burns will continue to co-anchor the 6 and 10 p.m. news at the station.

But this is likely the beginning of the end of Burns' often-controversial tenure at the station, given her contract expires in October. In 2003, she was signed to one of the richest anchor deals in history, luring her away from top-rated WLS-TV in the process. But the move failed to lift WBBM-TV's ratings, which as of November 2007, is far behind WLS in household ratings and in the main 25-54 news demo.

Thought: I posted this in the comments section of the Tribune story, responding to a reader on why he/she doesn't watch local news anymore:

"I've said this before in another blog, but it is worth repeating: Young people my age- 35 - and under - gave up on local TV news long ago. No wonder more of us watch "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart". His fake newscasts are better than any "real" local newscast. Local stations across the country have lost the next generation of viewers and they have no one to blame but themselves. They can hide behind the local mantra all they want - it won't do them any good."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Chris Berman's Ultimate Highlight

Are you sick and tired of those lame Chris Berman's Ultimate Highlight segments on SportsCenter? Well, I got his Ultimate Highlight right here.

Malcolm is no longer in the middle at KTLA

Vinnie Malcolm is out as vice president and general manager of Tribune-owned KTLA in Los Angeles in the first series of changes expected under new Tribune station group head Ed Wilson. Like many other CW affiliates (with WGN in Chicago the notable exception),KTLA has struggled in the ratings, with its newscasts ranked behind Fox-owned rival KTTV, with some viewers moving on after the death of longtime anchor Hal Fishman.

Tribune Broadcasting Executive Vice President John Vitanovec will serve as interim general manager until a replacement can be found.

Jackson suspended at WVON

Santita Jackson is joining the ranks of radio's growing list of radio personalities who have been "suspended". She is expected back on WVON March 1. What's her offense you ask? It wasn't what she said on the air, but it was something she said to WVON management off the air, regarding a series of Black History Month vignettes .

In case you haven't figured it out, Santita Jackson's father is the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Burial or cremated?

It's official: HD-DVD is dead. Toshiba has officially pulled the plug on HD-DVD, which competed with Blu-Ray to become the official format of the next generation of home video entertainment...

This comes after Best Buy and Wal-Mart are recommending customers to go with Blu-Ray, which means the chains will phase out HD-DVDs. Netflix has also pledged its allegiance to Blu-Ray.

Warner Brothers got the nail-in-the-coffin ball rolling a few weeks ago, when it was switching its support to Blu-Ray, joining Sony, Twentieth, and Disney in the Blu-Ray camp (Sony developed the Blu-Ray format). leaving Paramount, NBC Universal, and DreamWorks Animation as the only studios in the HD DVD camp.

Toshiba will no longer manufacture, market, or ship HD DVD players. They will reduce those shipments, and stop compeltely at the end of March.

The HD-DVD/Blu-Ray battle is remisicent of the Betamax/VHS wars of the 1980's, in which JVC's VHS trimuphed over Sony's Betamax. However, Sony did not throw in the towel officially until 1986 - years after both formats were introduced.

WLS-AM slammed for coverage of NIU shootings

From the Sun-Times' Robert Feder (and rightfully so.) But he also praised the coverage of WBBM-AM and WGN-AM - as well as NextMedia's west suburban classic hits outlet WERV-FM (95.9 FM, a.k.a. "The River") for their continuing coverage of the tragedy.

Monday, February 18, 2008

"Everybody" loves you in HD

CBS Television Distribution's Everybody Loves Raymond will soon get an upgrade to high-definition.

Beginning March 17, all 210 episodes of Raymond will be available to air in high-definition. The program started shooting in high definition in 1999, so the series first three seasons are being converted to HD, with series creator Phillip Rosenthal supervising the process.

The move is timed with the series start of its' second syndication cycle, which also begins on March 17. On this same date, Raymond is shifting to Fox-owned WPWR-TV, where it will air weeknights at 6 p.m. Raymond now airs at 12:30 a.m., 1 a.m., and now 4 a.m. on WGN-TV (this gets worse, doesn't it?)

"In the Loop" closes

The NBC-owned stations and iVillage has canceled the hour-long embarrassment that was In the Loop With iVillage, a daytime talk show taped at NBC Tower at 454 North Columbus Drive - not in the Loop , but on the city's Gold Coast.

The program will continue until March 28. No word on what WMAQ-TV will air in the 11 a.m. time slot where Village now resides.

WWE Smackdown to... WGN ?

Yes, that's one of two options the WWE under consideration with the other outlet being My Network TV. If the WWE goes with with WGN Superstation, most Chicagoans would not have access to the show, since the cable version of WGN is only carried on satellite (Direct TV and Dish Network) and not on any cable systems, unless the WWE can strike a deal with WGN locally.

Two weeks ago, CW canceled Smackdown after a nine-season run which started on predecessor UPN in August 1999.

Meanwhile, if Smackdown goes to My Network TV, some areas won't get the show, either. On the other hand, it would bring wrestling back to the stations that carried it when they were UPN affiliates.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Get "Better" at night

WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee and several other stations are scheduled to air a live, one-hour syndicated special originating from Las Vegas on March 18 called Better at Night, celebrating Better TV's first year on the air.

Better TV airs at 3 p.m. weekdays on the NBC affiliate, and airs on stations primarily owned by Meredith (such as KCTV in Kansas City) and Journal, which owns WTMJ and WGBA-TV in Green Bay, among others.

Better has been touted as an alternative programming initiative, in which stations airing the show can contribute local material to the show to air in their individual markets, a la PM Magazine, which was a popular prime-access staple in the 1970's and 1980's. Better takes its name from Meredith's Better Home and Gardens magazine. The program has been renewed for a second season in about 20 markets.

While Better is not likely to arrive at a Chicago outlet anytime soon (unless WPWR decides to replace the exiting Montel with it), its concept is a good one, and one that is better (no pun intended) for stations' bottom line - especially those who hate shelling out expensive licensing fees for first-run syndicated programming.

Maybe that's why they call it Better TV.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

CBS greenlights eleven series for fall

The network greenlights eleven shows for the 2008-09 season, with Cold Case, Criminal Minds, all three CSIs, and Without A Trace among them, but not Moonlight, as the fanbois and fangirls whine in the comments section below in the posted link (hey, get in line like the rest of us... I'm still waiting for CBS to return Frank's Place to the air...)

My Network TV cancels "IFL battleground"

Tough week for fans of wrestling and mixed-martial arts: now comes word the struggling My Network TV has dropped IFL Battleground, mainly because of disappointing ratings and the IFL's desire to partner with other entities, including Mark Cuban's HD Net.

IFL Battleground averaged around a 0.8 household rating, no better than the failed televonela format the net was previously airing.

This move comes a week after CW pulled the plug on WWE Smackdown.

Jane Fonda swears on live TV

On NBC's Today Show no less, while discussing her play. A deliberate stunt to piss off conservative groups?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The winners and losers of the strike

So, who won and lost in the just-concluded writer's strike? Aaron Barnhart of TV Barn breaks it all down.

One notable winner: Nikki Finke of LA Weekly and her Deadline Hollywood Daily blog, which proved more reliable than the trades (notably Variety) and the mainstream media in breaking the latest developments in the strike.

One notable loser: David Letterman. All right, he signed an interim agreement with the Guild. You'd think he would have an advantage over the writer-less Leno. It turned out Leno performed admirably without his writers while Letterman and his show pretty much slipped back into its dull, stale routine. The audiences rewarded Leno with a Nielsen win over Letterman.

CBS, NBC sets return dates

For CBS, new episodes of Two and a Half Men and CSI: Miami resume next month, while it will not bring back The Unit, Shark, or Cane for the rest of the season (and maybe not ever for the latter show), while NBC will have original episodes of My Name Is Earl, The Office, 30 Rock, Law & Order and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, while Heroes, Life, and Chuck won't be back until the fall.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Will the viewers come back?

All right, the strike is finally over. Now comes the toughest task of all: trying to win the viewers back.

When Major League Baseball went on strike in 1994 and when the NHL players were locked out twice in the last fifteen years, it hurt both sports tremendously, and some teams are still feeling the effects. Locally, the Chicago White Sox didn't really recover until they won the 2005 World Series, and the Chicago Blackhawks are only starting now to do so. The Cubs have always had its loyal fan base to count on after a work stoppage has occurred.

If only the television business were that lucky. While fans will no doubt return to their favorite shows, it may be tougher than ever to launch new shows - as viewers has left network TV behind for other viewing options - or simply to find something else to do. That phenomenon already happened before the strike - particularly among male 18-34 viewers, who abandoned network prime-time TV long ago for the Internet and video games. With Smackdown canceled by CW last week, more of them will likely head for the exits. The question is, will female viewers join them?

The Internet, Apple downloads, and DVRs are quickly changing the television world, and there's no going back. The viewer is clearly in control.

Maureen Ryan of the Trib examines these issues, and what the networks are facing in this post-strike world.


It's finally over. With 92.5 percent of the vote, the WGA on both coasts voted to return to work effective on Wednesday, ending the 14-week strike which cost everybody involved - the networks, the advertisers, the city of Los Angeles, the studios - and the writers.

Snoopy: (c) United Features Syndicate, Inc.

"Clone Wars" to TNT, Cartoon Network

George Lucas' new animated Star Wars series Star Wars: The Clone Wars will premiere this fall on Turner's Cartoon Network and on TNT, with a 3-D motion picture (also titled Star Wars: The Clone Wars) scheduled to hit theaters on August 15.

The program and movie is being distributed and produced by Warner Bros.- not News Corp's Twentieth Television, which has handled the theatrical, home video releases, and television rights for every Star Wars project. Warner will handle the home video release for both the film and the TV series.

Clone Wars
has aired in a mini-episode format on Cartoon Network and was released on home video.

ION acquires "M*A*S*H"

ION Television has acquired the broadcast rights to air the classic series M*A*S*H, beginning this fall. The deal effectively ends its syndication run, meaning that the program will no longer be seen locally over WFLD-TV (finally!), which has aired M*A*S*H since it entered syndication way back in 1979.

ION's local affiliate in Chicago is WCPX-Channel 38.

Stations now pretty much use the series as time-period filler, i.e. airing the program after a network sporting event, or sticking it in the overnight hours. The move comes as major TV stations are relying more and more on first-run syndicated programs, news, local programming, recent off-network shows, and infomercials to fill out their schedules.

Meanwhile, ION Television stations (formerly with PAX) and digital subchannel and low-powered stations (including WWME-TV and WMEU-TV and the Retro Television Network) are buying up classic TV programs to fill out their schedules and provide viewers an alternative option.

M*A*S*H ran on CBS from 1972-83 for 255 episodes, and won fourteen Emmy Awards during that time span, with the series finale garnering 104 million viewers on February 28, 1983 - a record that still stands today.

"Ellen" moves back to 4 p.m. in the NYC

Since it worked so well the first time around...

NBC-owned WNBC-TV in New York has upgraded (or downgraded?) Warner's Ellen to 4 p.m., pitting the talk show once again against Oprah on WABC-TV and Judge Judy on WCBS-TV in a move that begins next Monday (and during a sweeps period no less.)

This knocks Program Partners' Crosswords and NBC Universal's Access Hollywood repeat to 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., respectively - the time slot Ellen holds now. Crosswords had been struggling in the ratings at 4 p.m., often placing as low as seventh in the time period. Nevertheless, WNBC renewed the program for fall.

Insiders are saying however that this move is temporary, and Ellen will move back to the mornings come fall. A daytime version of Deal Or No Deal is expected to land in the 4 p.m. slot come then.

The move means that Ellen once again has early-fringe clearances in all top three markets, including a 3 p.m. slot at WMAQ-TV here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

ABC to bring back its shows

In fact, the Mouse of House renewed nine of them for next season, including Samantha Who, Private Practice, and Dirty Sexy Money (all of which will not return until then) while also-renewed Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, and Brothers & Sisters will be back with new episodes this spring. Boston Legal will resume production as well, but it has yet to be picked up for fall.

Not clear are the fates of Cavemen and Carpoolers, though it's probably safe to say those two clunkers won't ever return (sorry, Meet the Spartans fans.) Also likely done is According to Jim (we can only hope.)

"Girlfriends" to end long run

As CW prepares its post-strike future, many of its popular shows (and I'm stretching "popular" quite a bit here) are returning with new episodes this spring, including Smallville, Supernatural, One Tree Hill, and Reaper, while others including Gossip Girl and Everybody Hates Chris will return with new episodes in the fall.

But two shows won't return at all: The ultra low-rated Life Is Wild, which has officially been canceled, as well as the long-running Girlfriends, which won't return to production but may air a series finale whose contents have not been yet determined.

Girlfriends is the second old UPN program dropped in the last week, following the lead of WWE Smackdown, which was canceled on Friday. The move leaves CW with just two former UPN shows: Chris and America's Next Top Model.

Girlfriends began in 2000 on UPN, and went into off-network broadcast syndication and BET in September 2004. However, the series' three-year contract in broadcast syndication wasn't renewed (because of low ratings), and the program's reruns are only run on BET sporadically.

And while the series will end this year, the controversy over how the show was promoted - or wasn't promoted will most certainly not.

Dissed in syndication by CBS, by the media, by BET, by UPN and CW - and yet the creators, producers, and cast of the show put on a brave face. Obviously, they are far classier than the companies and press they had to deal with.

KWQC cuts staff, cancels newscasts

Young Broadcasting's KWQC-TV in Davenport, IA-Rock Island, IL has laid off twelve employees and the NBC affiliate has also canceled its Saturday morning newscasts. This move comes as Young is struggling, with its underperforming San Francisco station up for sale and its ABC affiliate in Nashville (WKRN-TV) also getting hit hard with job cuts.

Will cost cutting save radio?

Ummm... No. But this article in Mediaweek asks the question, anyway. And the answers aren't pretty. And judging by the article, some people who run radio stations still don't get it, particularly at the big-chain radio station groups. In an excerpt from the Mediaweek article, a program director (Jim Richards) from a classic rock station in San Diego said:

"I can speak about a concert that's happening tonight at a local venue just as well as a voice-tracker from somewhere else can," says Richards. "In a world that is increasingly global, to whom does it matter that it's live and local, as long as we're satisfying the entertainment and information needs of the listener and providing something that's unique to that signal?"

Well, draw your own conclusions on what he said. But the business has got to do more than appeal to the "what difference does it make" crowd.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Writer's Strike to likely end on Tuesday

WGA West and WGA East are expected to vote on Tuesday whether or not to accept the tentative agreement hammered out by the studios and the guild. If the writers accept the deal (and that is likely the case), production could resume on many TV series by midweek.

The WGA Strike Central section on the sidebar of this blog will remain a week after the strike ends.

Maureen Ryan of the Trib has a handy list on when you might expect some of your favourite TV shows affected by the strike to return.

Saturday, February 09, 2008


Click here for details.

UPDATE: At 2:51 p.m.. Details are emerging of the tentative agreement. You can click here to read.

Oh, shut up!

From the person who doesn't know anything about sports - or anything else for that matter, Jay Moron - I mean Mariotti, addresses the Chet Coppock controversy, being the hypocritical douchebag he is. And of course, he finds time to rip on White Sox and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf while he's at it. He has a nerve to talk about ethics when his worthless and soon-to-be defunct paper endues scandal after scandal after scandal, including one this week.

He also has the nerve to talk about racist behavior when he wrote that Shani Davis article during the Winter Olympics two years ago.

Again, I ask: what happened to responsibility in the media? From Michael Savage to Bill O'Reilly to Jay Mariotti to various other sports and talk show hosts, these clowns are using the public airwaves and print to launch personal attacks against people they don't like. And it's getting quite tiresome. The public is finally getting weary of this childish behavior, and Big Media better damn well take notice.

Do you want to know why Mariotti decided to put out this column on a Saturday - a day you usually don't find him in the paper? So he can seize the opportunity to attack one of his enemies who made a huge public goof. That's just as bad. And disgusting.

And Chicago's news media should know better - which they don't. Mariotti, Coppock, and the rest of their ilk is one of the reasons why the Chicago news media is a complete laughing stock, and why Chicago sports journalism is the worst in the country.

It's worst enough Chicago sports is in the gutter - Chicago's news media seems to be in there with it. And we have FCC Chairman Kevin Martin to thank.

Friday, February 08, 2008

CW cancels "Smackdown"

The CW has pulled the plug on WWE Smackdown after nine seasons, after failing to come to an agreement on renewal. The program's final CW airing is scheduled for September 12.

The program began on April 29, 1999 as a one-shot special on UPN, and joined that network's lineup on August 26, 1999. Smackdown originally aired on Thursday nights, but moved to Fridays in September 2005, and renamed Friday Night Smackdown. The show moved to CW in 2006, created after UPN and the WB shut down.

While the program performed decently in the ratings, Smackdown stood out as a sore thumb on the female-targeted network, and was unable to achieve revenue levels as other shows on the network, including America's Next Top Model.

Smackdown is the last wrestling show on national broadcast television, as the WWE has long moved its other programming to cable.

The WWE is expected to find a new home for Smackdown, with USA Network and My Network TV in the running.

Analysis: The move by CW and the WWE isn't actually bad strategically (well, don't tell that to CW affiliate WLMT in Memphis - Smackdown is constantly the station's highest rated show). But it was clear that Smackdown did not fit with the rest of the network's young female lineup.

Advertisers and media buyers often complained about the lack of audience flow on CW, as well as Smackdown's former UPN home. Despite good ratings, wrestling's controversial content (especially WWE programming) isn't exactly advertiser-friendly. Ask those stations that aired Jerry Springer ten years ago and scored high ratings - only to be limited in the revenue department because of the program's chair-tossing, hair-pulling brawls.

A move to Fox's My Network TV would make sense, since it already has some male-skewing programs on the network, instituted after its female-targeted telenovela format imploded last year. But a downside is it could be subject to sports pre-emptions, especially in New York and Los Angeles, where both WWOR and KCOP hold over-the-air broadcast rights to the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim games, respectively. A move to NBC is not likely.

But a move to USA (where Raw already resides) or SciFi (the home of ECW) would also be possible, and if that happens, for the first time in over 25 years, there would be no regularly scheduled wrestling program on over-the-air television. Chalk it up to changing times in the television business. Twenty years ago, the WWE had as many as four weekly shows in broadcast syndication, including Superstars of Wrestling and Wrestling Challenge.

Meanwhile, CW could move its comedy block to Fridays this fall. The family-friendly Everybody Loves Chris and Aliens in America would fit well on this night. On the other hand, two other family-friendly shows - Malcolm in the Middle and The Bernie Mac Show - tanked on this night for Fox in the fall of 2005. Both were canceled shortly thereafter, falling victim to the Friday Night Death Slot. Comedy has worked for the WB on the night before with Reba, albeit modestly. Giving it another try wouldn't be a bad idea, considering Friday is a low HUT night.

It's national Put Your Foot In Your Mouth Day

And look where the foot landed.

WMVP suspended Ironman sports radio host Chet Coppock for an offensive remark he made on his show on February 2. Meanwhile, a St. Louis radio talk show host (J.C Corcoran) was also suspended for making offensive remarks and threating violence on his KIHT-AM show February 4 at after the power went out at his house during the Super Bowl. Both since have apologized.

Surprised? You shouldn't be. It's talk radio! Good Golly, Miss Molly, whatever happened to responsible broadcasting?

WXRT to leave longtime home

CBS-owned WXRT-FM is leaving its longtime home in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood on Chicago's North Side and is moving to new digs at the NBC Tower, where sister station WSCR-AM is located.

The legendary station has been located in a building at 4949 West Belmont since 1972, and the station's Adult Album Alternative format is the longest-tenured in the market (excluding news,talk, and classical music).

The move come as WXRT GM Michael Damsky was let go after 24 years at the station, sacked in a wave of cutbacks at corporate cutbacks at CBS Radio.

WXRT and WSCR were owned by Daniel Lee until 1995, when he sold the combo to Westinghouse Broadcasting, which was acquired a year later by CBS.

Thought: There is no doubt in my mind that this will generate a lot of discussion on the message boards today and over the weekend (okay, maybe not... see above.) Sadly, the realities of the radio business has caught up with WXRT, and it just goes to show you how the radio business has changed drastically (and not for the better) since WXRT signed on with its current format in 1972.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Tyra takes lie detector test

Hyper talk show host Tyra Banks took a lie detector test on her show yesterday with Mark Walberg from Fox's new hit series The Moment of Truth. The results:

- Asked if she was jealous of Oprah, Tyra said no, and the lie detector buzzed wrong.

- Asked if she made nice with Naomi Campbell, the lie detector buzzed correct.

- Asked if she chose Saleisha Stowers to be the Cycle 9 winner of America's Next Top Model based on the fact that she had personal connections with her before she won the title, Tyra denied it, and the lie detector exploded.

More radio layoffs

With CBS Radio pink-slipping, on top of Emmis' recent cutbacks, as well as those at Clear Channel, it looks like its going to be another tough year for the radio industry.

Among the casualties locally - WXRT GM Michael Damsky, who is out after 24 years.

Cashmere Mafia vs. Lipstick Jungle

It's more like a Bulls-Heat matchup: Nobody cares, not even its target female audience. Check out the reviews for Lipstick Jungle here. Need any more proof prime-time programming on the broadcast networks are on the skids?

Want a real show to watch instead? Head to cable and check out The First 48 on A&E at 9 p.m. (CT) tonight, where real-life detectives deal with real-life crimes.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

WPIX declines to air Giants parade

New York Daily News TV Critic Richard Huff calls out Tribune-owned WPIX for not airing the Giants victory parade yesterday, but never mind that - read the comments section and Huff completely missed the real story - of WWOR simulcasting WNYW's feed of the parade (both WWOR and WNYW are owned by Fox) and the readers called him out (and you thought the readers' letters to Feder were nasty...)

Oh, if this was only the Post's Adam Buckman who wrote this article...

You want more classic television? Well, Me-Too

WFBT to become WMEU-TV, a.k.a Me-Too; Me-TV expands to Milwaukee; Retro TV Network arrives in Rockford, South Bend

Can't get enough of classic television? You're not alone.

In a major expansion of its digital strategy, Weigel Broadcasting announced it is scrapping ethnic-format programming at low-powered WFBT-Channel 48 and replacing it with a spin-off of its' already successful WWME-Channel 23 (Me-TV), labeled Me-Too.

The WFBT call letters will become WMEU-TV, effective March 1. WFBT's format will move to one of Weigel's six digital channels of WCIU-TV.

Meanwhile, the original Me-TV format is expanding to Milwaukee (second item) next month, where it will become a digital subchannel on Weigel-owned CBS affiliate WDJT-TV, where it will be available on Channel 58.3, as well as on digital tiers on the city's cable systems. It will air mostly the same programs as WWME in Chicago, including I Love Lucy and The Dick Van Dyke Show.

In Chicago, the new Me-Too will be available on Comcast Digital Channel 248, WOW and RCN cable systems, and analog Channel 48.

Among programs scheduled to air on Me-Too include classics Route 66, Naked City, The Monkees, The Brady Bunch, and The Partridge Family. Between the Me-TV and Me-Too channels, they will air around 100 television series.

In a recent interview with TV Newsday, WCIU GM Neal Sabin discussed the possibility of one of his low-powered stations in Chicago joining the Retro Television Network, but this move apparently is not the case, although that still may be possible down the road.

Retro has a format similar to Me-TV and is a digital sub-channel network owned by Equity Broadcasting Group, which is airing on several low-powered and digital sub-channels. The network can be customized to suit stations' needs.

Retro recently signed with the Quincy Newspaper Group, whose WREX-TV (NBC) in Rockford and WSJV-TV (Fox) in South Bend recently agreed to carry Retro on one of their digital sub-channels.

updated at 11:59 p.m. on 2008-02-06

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Ask the T Dog Media Blog

Going back through some old posts, I discovered a question asked by an anonymous reader regarding the original version of American Gladiators. Instead of answering in the comments section of the post, I decided to answer in a new post here:

Q: Anonymous said... Do you know what the ratings were for the original American Gladiator series? Also did it air in prime time or on the weekend?

A: I wish I caught your question earlier... I'm more than happy to answer your question.

American Gladiators ran in syndication from 1989 to 1996 and was distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Television. Since it ran in syndication, time slots varied: the program ran mostly in weekend time slots - some in prime-time (WPWR-TV ran it at 9 p.m. Saturdays in Chicago for a few years, KCAL-TV in Los Angeles ran it on the same day at 10 p.m.); others in late-night (CBS affiliate KMOV in St. Louis ran it at 11:30 p.m. on Saturdays.) In its first few months on the air in New York City, the program ran on WNBC-TV at 2 a.m. Sunday mornings, where it regularly won its time period (in early 1990, the show moved to a better time slot on WNYW-TV.)

The program did decently well in the ratings in its first few years, with national ratings regularly hovering around a 3.0. But as with many programs, they declined as the show aged. The show ended in 1996 after Samuel Goldwyn exited the syndication business and was acquired by MGM subsequently thereafter.

Thanks for writing in!


Have a question about a post? Leave it in the comment section, and I'll be more than happy to answer it. Call me "The Media Answer Man".

Winter Critics' Poll 2008

No surprises this time around in TV Week's 2008 Winter TV Critics Poll (which the publication decided to bury deep in its website for some reason)- they picked Pushing Daisies as the best, and Cavemen and the now-expired Viva Laughlin as the worst.

One notable drop in the best category was NBC's Heroes, falling from #6 to #25, reflecting what yours truly have been saying about the series this season.

To see the entire list of both best and worst series, click here.

Hibberd joins Hollywood Reporter

The talented James Hibberd, who now blogs for TV Week, is joining The Hollywood Reporter as a senior television writer.

Gee, who are the self-smarmy Drudgies ("Television is a left-wing conspiracy destined to destroy our country") are going to whine to now?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Sun-Times editor steps down

Editor Cheryl L. Reed (who is African-American) resigns after endorsements regarding Barack Obama and John McCain were rewritten by people outside the newspaper who are "white men". And on a night before a major election.

Coincidence? Or Chicago politics as usual?

And before the political hacks start trolling here... oh yeah... that's right. Yours truly doesn't talk about Chicago politics. Some people say I don't what I'm talking about regarding the subject, since "the hacks" know so much... Gee, maybe perhaps I should stick to giving recaps of Heroes episodes instead... Claire Bennet for State's Attorney! Can't be any worse than the choices we have now, right?

Save the Cheerleader... Save us from this crap.

Happy Election Day.

Super Bowl Ratings Box

- The Giants-Patriots tilt was seen by 97.5 million viewers, making it the highest-rated Super Bowl of all-time, and only second to the 1983 finale of M*A*S*H. The game was up 5 percent from last year's Colts-Bears Super Bowl.

- Super Bowl XLII earned a 43.2 household rating and 65 share, and averaged a 37.6 among adults 18-49.

- Fox-owned WNYW-TV in New York and WFXT in Boston both put up record numbers for the big game. WNYW scored a 44.9 rating and 67 share (in households) and a 33.8/75 in adults 18-49. In Boston, WFXT nabbed a 55.6/81 in households. WFXT's all-time highest-rated top 10 programs include several Patriots Super Bowls and Red Sox World Series games.

- While Fox clearly dominated the ratings, also of note was the ratings performance of the CW, which put up infomercial at 3 a.m.-like numbers for its Sunday night lineup. Perhaps it's time for the CW to give affiliates its time back on Sundays for them to program.

Best and Worst Super Bowl Commercials - 2008

For the second year in a row, The T Dog Media Blog picks the best and worst commercials that aired during the Super Bowl. Here are the five best and the five worst: (Click the link to watch the commercial)


1. Dwayne Wins (T-Mobile) This ad featuring Charles Barkley and the Miami Heat's Dwayne Wade was funny as hell. I couldn't stop laughing.

2. It's Mine (Coca-Cola) - A close second. It's a battle of the Underdog balloon and the Stewie balloon over a Coca-Cola - balloon. And guess who comes away with the Coke...

3. Budweiser Clydesdale Team - A Clydesdale fails to make the team. So, who is his coach to train him to make next year's team? A Dalmatian. Very clever.

4. Nod (Diet Pepsi Max) - Haddaway's 1993 hit What Is Love is used in this commercial, reminiscent of those Night at the Roxbury sketches on Saturday Night Live with Chris Kattan...

5. Magnetic Attraction (Pepsi) - Who here doesn't want to see Justin Timberlake get what's coming to him? Freakin' hilarious.

Honorable Mention: WALL*E SuperBowl Spot (Disney), Perfume (Planters), "Truth in Engineering" (Audi), Victoria's Secret Ad (well, duh?)


1. Trading Baby 2008 (E*TRADE) - Oh wow, a talking baby. Didn't we see this a Quizno's ad several years ago with Baby Bob? How original. Oh, oh, and now, the kid pukes on camera. Hey kid, down on the floor... DOWN ON THE FLOOR!

2. Meet Carmen Electra (Ice Breakers) - She's still around? What is she, 50 or something? And why does she have a Super Bowl Ad?

3. Breathe Fire (Bud Light) - Completely, utterly stupid.

4. Queen of Hearts (Career Builder) - Yes, your heart can jump right out of your body and leaves for a better place! The only surprise here, is the lady didn't immediately drop dead (so that's why Dick Cheney's been alive all those years...)

5. Thrillicious: 2008 Sobe Life - That was Naomi Campbell was in this ad? I thought it was Rihanna or that chick who won recently "won" Top Model...

Also in the trash bin: Both Sales Genie commercials (and you thought last year's ads were bad) and Carlos Mencia's Bud Light commercial (did he steal this from Joe Rogan, too?), plus another anti-drug commercial from your friend and mine, the government.

Halftime Show: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were the performers. Would it kill them to play some new stuff? (and they didn't play my favorites - "Don't Come Around Here No More" and "Mary Jane's Last Dance". Totally disappointing. Spent halftime on YouTube.)

Other notes:

-USA Today's annual Ad Meter ranked Budweiser Clydesdale Team ad number one on its survey, while the Doritos ad featuring an unknown signer ranked at the bottom.

- Bob Garfield of Ad Age reviews the Super Bowl ads. Memo to Garfield: Dude, lighten up (and whose this Terence Henderson guy making nasty comments to someone in the comments section? Impostors...)

- For the second year in a row, YouTube is rating the ads. The winner will be announced on February 12 (hopefully, it's not the one with the baby throwing up.)

- The reception toward this year's ads, much like last year's, were pretty cold, and yours truly tend to agree (maybe the copywriters should've went out on strike as well?) Most were average, at best. I scaled back on writing about the Super Bowl ads this year and limited them to the top five and the bottom five. Writing about last year's ads was too much work, and for what?

- Thumbs down to TV Squad for their ad reviews. Like geez, how many softball reviews can you squeeze in an article? They all weren't that great. Only the Meet the Spartans generation can write such junk...

- By the way, if you skipped the pregame show... good for you! The only performer worth watching was Alicia Keys. It was typical Hollywood arrogance on display with a "red carpet", egged on by Ryan Seacrest, and constant tie-ins to American Idol. This was the Super Bowl, not a Lakers game.

Ed Wilson named president of Tribune Broadcasting

Syndication veteran Ed Wilson has been named the new president of Tribune Broadcasting. In his new role, Wilson will oversee Tribune's 23 TV stations (including WGN-TV), as well as WGN Superstation, WGN Radio, and ad-sales company Tribune Entertainment. He comes over from Fox, where he was president of the network.

Wilson began his career in sales at Viacom in 1980 (when it was more known as a TV syndicator and the "V of Doom".) Wilson helped found Eyemark (CBS) Entertainment and later NBC Enterprises, after the major networks were allowed back into the syndication business due to the collapse of the financial interest and syndication rules, or "fin-syn" (ironically, it was fin-syn that created Viacom in 1971 after the new rules forced CBS to spin off its syndication business.)

Wilson later joined Fox's News Corp., where he oversaw Fox's affiliate relations, ad sales, and integrated marketing operations.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Giants win Super Bowl

Oh wow... Giants win the Super Bowl in a stunning upset over the undefeated New England Patriots. Yep, Carl called it (well, not exactly... The Giants won only by three.) Yep, history was made - but not the kind of history Patriots fans were looking for.

Celebrate, Carl!

Friday, February 01, 2008

WCIU profiled

TV Newsday's Harry Jessell interviews Weigel Broadcasting executive Neal Sabin - the former general manager of WPWR-TV who jumped to WCIU in that same capacity in 1994 and now runs not only WCIU, but now a group of stations, including low power classic-TV formatted WWME-TV and ethnic WFBT in Chicago; and stations in Milwaukee and South Bend, Ind.

Sabin talks about WCIU, including the station's scheduling strategy - including Three Stooges on Saturday nights, Svengoolie, the station's minority-targeted programming, and the acquisition of The Doctors from CBS Television Distribution for airing at 5 p.m. beginning this fall.

Also discussed in his plans for continued growth at CBS affiliate WDJT in Milwaukee (which acquired the CBS affiliation from WITI after it switched to Fox in December 1994) and sister station WMLW, and newly acquired WJJA; and the company's three low-powered South Bend stations, which includes ABC affiliate WBND-TV.

Burger King freaks out; Wendy's wigs out

The "Whopper Freakout" campaign boosted sales of the sandwich for Burger King, which features angry customers demanding Whoppers after being told that the chain's doesn't sell them anymore. It's all a gag of course. (Here is the Web version:)

The campaign drew 250,000 vistors to its website, according to ComScore, and grew to 1.5 million views in January.

The exact opposite of Burger King's successful Whopper Freakout has to be Wendy's Red Wig campaign: Wendy's pulled the plug on the inane ads this week, marking the second straight failed ad campaign for Wendy's (following the just as inane "Mr. Wendy" ads):

Like "Mr. Wendy", the campaign failed to drive customers to its restaurants. At least we are no longer subjected to idiots kicking trees and demanding hot, juicy burgers in red wigs... Where's the beef?

Or Dave Thomas? (I couldn't find his first commercial, which came out in 1989, so this is the best I can do... R.I.P., Dave...)

Microsoft bids for Yahoo

The world's largest computer company made a $44.6 billion bid for its arch web portal rival, and to compete more effectively with Google.

So more consolidation in the media business, only now in the high-tech sector. Well, since it worked so well for the radio and television businesses...

Weigel heads to CNN

Rafer Weigel, the son of the late sports anchor Tim Weigel, has landed a plum job with CNN, and is following in his father's footsteps: He'll be the sports anchor for CNN Headline News' Morning Express, which runs weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m. starting Monday.

The Evanston-born Weigel also has a Hollywood resume: He regularly appeared in Jenny McCarthy's short-lived NBC sitcom Jenny, and most recently provided voices on an episode of Adult Swim's Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex.