THE ROSES ARE GREEN
Despite much hand-wringing among television executives about the outlandish costs of sports programming and forecasts that the networks will dig in their heels against further increases, ABC and the Rose Bowl announced Wednesday that they had extended their current deal eight more years and that ABC will now pay $30 million per game instead of $25.5 million. "We wouldn't have made the deal if we didn't think the finances made sense," ABC senior vice-president programming Loren Matthews told USA Today. "But you're such at the mercy of the marketplace. We've got our fingers crossed. It's tough times out there now. We're not printing money, like in the old days."
FCC SAYS "GO" TO TIVO-TO-GO
The FCC on Wednesday approved TivoToGo, which will allow users of the TiVo digital recorders to send programs to other TiVo users or to personal computers linked to the Internet. They system includes a piracy-protection technology that prevents users from distributing programs to more than nine other recipients. The MPAA and the NFL had sought to have the system banned, arguing that it could eventually lead to a breakdown of local markets, making it possible, say, for persons to send recordings of a football game into markets where the game is blacked out. They might also be able to send recordings of movies from cable channels to persons living in cities overseas where the movies had not even been released theatrically. Some opponents questioned whether TiVo's piracy protection was foolproof. Indeed, Commissioner Kevin Martin expressed concern in his opinion "that we may be acting prematurely in concluding that TiVo's affinity controls are sufficient to protect against widespread redistribution."
CLINTON DELIVERS VOTERS -- ER, VIEWERS -- TO DAVE
Former President Bill Clinton was able to deliver to David Letterman Tuesday something that he was unable to deliver to John Kerry -- a big boost in popularity. While polls showed that Kerry did not receive a significant lift in the popular polls following last week's Democratic convention -- where, it was said, Clinton's endorsement address overshadowed Kerry's -- Clinton's appearance on CBS's Late Show gave Letterman a rare win over rival Jay Leno's Tonight Show. According to Nielsen overnights, Letterman scored a 5.2 rating and a 12 share versus Leno's 4.8/11. It marked Letterman's first win over Leno since March 29, when his guest was Janet Jackson.
NEWS CORP PRESIDENT ENDORSES KERRY
Suggesting that Rupert Murdoch's News Corp might not be so monolithic as some of its critics have made it out to be, the Kerry for President Campaign announced Wednesday that News Corp President and COO Peter Chernin had endorsed the Democratic presidential candidate. Murdoch himself is regarded as a staunch backer of President Bush, and his Fox News Channel is generally regarded as reflecting his political bias. Appearing on FNC Wednesday, Chernin maintained that the company would benefit from a Kerry presidency, saying that he would "do a good job moving our economy forward." There has also been increasing speculation that Fox Home Video will distribute the DVD release of the anti-Bush documentary Fahrenheit 9/11.
SPANISH-LANGUAGE UNIVISION DOUBLES PROFITS
Far surpassing analysts' forecasts, Univision, the country's leading Spanish-language TV and radio broadcaster, more than doubled its profits in he second quarter to $83.7 million from $41.6 million during the comparable quarter a year ago. In a statement, Jerry Perenchio, Univision's chairman and CEO, attributed the success to a realization among advertisers of the importance of Spanish-language media assets.
ABC GOES BRITISH
The Walt Disney Co. announced today (Thursday) that it will launch a version of its ABC television network on the British Freeview digital terrestrial service beginning in September. To be called ABC1, the channel will air a combination of current ABC shows not already airing on other British outlets and reruns of hit series from the past. (The lineup includes Home Improvement, Once and Again, My Wife and Kids, Alias, The Practice, and the long-running daytime soap General Hospital.) Freeview, a joint operation of the BBC, BSkyB and Crown Castle (a company that owns and operates broadcasting transmission sites), has struggled to find an audience since it was born in Oct. 2002 out of the collapse of ITV Digital. Only about a million homes are equipped to receive Freeview's 30 channels. Disney has no plans initially to air advertising on ABC1, presumably planning to wait until Freeview attracts a greater number of viewers before it does.
THEATER ADVERTISING BOOMING
Movie theaters have become the fastest-growing sector of ad-supported media, MediaPost's online MediaDailyNews reported today (Thursday), citing a study by the media merchant bank Veronis Suhler Stevenson. According to the study, ads in movie theaters grew at a compound annual rate of 38.4 percent over the past five years, and even though that rate is expected to decline to 23 percent over the next five years, theater advertising will amount to nearly twice the projected growth of Internet ads. The rise in spending on theater advertising comes despite a snail's pace increase in movie attendance, which the study indicated, is expected to rise only 7 percent over the next five years, in line with average growth of between 1 and 3 percent annually over the part decade.
SPUDFEST FILM FESTIVAL OPENS AT IDAHO DRIVE-IN
Spudfest, which bills itself as "America's only drive-in-theater-based film festival," opened in Driggs, ID Wednesday night, with plans to feature 34-family films through Saturday. Among the films playing will be Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation, screening tonight (Thursday), the virtual shot-for-shot remake of the original movie, filmed by three teenagers 15 years ago. The three, Chris Stromplos, Erica Zala, and Eric Lamb, who are scheduled to appear at the festival, told Idaho Falls TV station KIDK that Paramount has purchased the rights to the story of how they made the movie and plans to turn it into a feature next year.
DISNEY WORLD TIGGER WORKER ACQUITTED
Tigger made a court appearance in Orlando, FL Wednesday when a lawyer, defending a Walt Disney World worker charged with fondling a 13-year-old girl while wearing the Tigger costume, attempted to show how the costume limits vision and arm movements. (The lawyer, Jeffrey Kaufman, also moonlights at Disney World as Tigger and Goofy.) Earlier, the Disney company, in an effort to protect the character's image, had unsuccessfully sought to have the costume significantly altered before it was presented in court. The trial had become the latest embarrassment for the family-conscious Disney company. Jurors later in the day deliberated less than an hour before delivering a verdict of not guilty in the case against the Disney worker, Michael Chartrand. A spokesman for the theme park, which had suspended Chartrand without pay following his arrest, declined comment when asked whether he would be rehired.
AUSTRALIAN FILM BUFFS RALLY AGAINST FREE TRADE AGREEMENT
Supporters of Australian films and television programs have banded together to put a roadblock in the way of a free trade agreement between the United States and Australia. Although the agreement was signed by U.S. and Australian heads of state on Tuesday, Australian cultural groups, many of whom have banded together under the banner Free to Be Australian, are seeking to block ratification by the Australian parliament. In a call-to-arms posted on its website, the group declared: "The impact [of the trade agreement] on Australia's cultural industries will be critical and irreversible. It places restrictions on future governments to control the future of the Australian voice on Australian screens. Our stories won't be heard. Our accent won't be heard. And our country won't be seen."
BOX OFFICE PLUNGES FOR THE VILLAGE
Word of mouth about The Village -- which, in this case, may include the revelation of what reportedly is the film's not-so-surprising surprise ending -- may be having a disastrous effect on the box office for the M. Night Shyamalan feature, which topped the box office last weekend. FoxNews.com's Roger Friedman observed Wednesday that the midweek audience for the film dropped 21 percent between Monday and Tuesday He commented however, that even if the box office plunges 60 percent this coming weekend, the studio will make back its expenses on the movie.
UNIVERSAL WON'T AID PRODUCER OF WASSERMAN DOCUMENTARY
Filmmaker Barry Avrich has told the New York Post that Universal will not allow him to include footage and photos from its archives in his documentary, The Last Mogul: Life and Times of Lew Wasserman. Avrich maintained that some of Hollywood's top figures have already been interviewed for the film about the founder of MCA Universal. "I was even in Cleveland interviewing [Wasserman's] 92-year-old high school friends," he told the Post. A spokesperson for the Wasserman family confirmed that the family had asked Universal not to cooperate with the filmmaker. "It is a family policy to turn down all requests regarding my grandfather without exception," Casey Wasserman told the newspaper. "We have not or will not participate in any historical portrayal of his life in any form."