UNIVISION SALE DOUBTFUL; SHARES FALL
Shares in Univision continued their downward slide today (Monday) as investors questioned whether the sale of the Spanish broadcaster would ever take place. At midday trading,shares were down 3 percent to $32. They have fallen about 10 percent since last Tuesday, the deadline that had been set for bids to be received. Since then several investors have dropped out of the bidding process. However, today's New York Times and the Wall Street Journal reported that the group led by Mexican broadcaster Televisa had reformed and submitted a new offer of $35.75 per share (about $11 billion total), well off the $40.00 per share that Univision chief Jerry Perenchio had reportedly set as the minimum he would entertain. Perenchio on Friday reportedly rejected a bid of $35.50 per share submitted by a group led by longtime entertainment mogul Haim Saban. The Wall Street Journal, citing a person familiar with the situation, said that the Saban group had no plans to submit a new bid.
SHAKEUP EXPECTED AT FOX NEWS CHANNEL
According to Broadcasting & Cable magazine, Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes "is on the warpath" following the second consecutive quarterly drop in its ratings. The trade publication reported that in the second quarter, ratings for FNC are down 22 percent among 25-54 year-olds and 8 percent in total viewers. "Insiders say that, even though Fox News remains No. 1, Ailes is fuming over the complacency he senses among staffers," the publication reported. It quoted a spokesman for Ailes as confirming that Ailes plans to clean house of slackers, saying, "Anyone who displays launch-type intensity will continue to have a job at Fox News. Those who don't will not. And that includes talent."
MARKETING EXECS ADMIT PAYING FOR PRODUCT PLACEMENTS IN NEWS
A poll of 266 marketing executives has indicated that nearly half had admitted that they had paid to have their products mentioned on television or radio news programs, magazines, or newspaper articles. Of those marketing executives who had not paid for such product placements in the news media, 46 percent said that they would consider doing so in the future. The results of the poll, conducted by PR Week magazine and the public relations firm Manning Selvage & Lee, was reported today (Monday) in the New York Times. Mark Hass, chief executive of the PR firm and a former journalist, told the Times: "The results show that there is an ethical issue that needs to be discussed, that there needs to be education around, so that the marketing industry develops more respect for the separation between editorial and advertising."
TIVO ENABLES A ROAD SHOW
TiVo said Friday that it has released a new version of its TiVoToGo software that permits its subscribers -- for a one-time $24.95 upgrade fee -- to transfer TV shows to portable media, including the Treo PDA, the iPod, and PlayStation Portable. Previously third-party software was need for such transfers. The resulting copies will include digital watermarks in order to discourage piracy. ("Television programs transferred to portable devices using TiVo Desktop Plus contain information that can be used to identify the TiVo account and/or DVR from which the transfer originated," TiVo's statement said.
PRODUCER AARON SPELLING DEAD AT 83
Aaron Spelling, whom the New York Times described as "the most prolific producer in American television," died Friday in Los Angeles at age 83. His shows included the Mod Squad, Charlie's Angels, The Love Boat, Dynasty, Beverly Hills, 90210 and 7th Heaven.
SANDLER CLICKS; OTHERS REMOTE
Moviegoers paid little attention to movie critics over the weekend as they made the Adam Sandler comedy Click the No. 1 film at the box office with an estimated $40 million in ticket sales. The film, which took a nearly universal drubbing from critics on Friday, attracted a broad audiences, from kids to adults, according to Sony's exit surveys, with 86 percent of the audience rating it "excellent" or "very good." "Adam Sandler has such a great track record; he's money in the bank," Exhibitor Relations chief Jack Dergarabedian told today's (Monday) Los Angeles Daily News. "He's as consistent as any box office star out there." Another newcomer, Focus Features' Waist Deep, aimed at Hispanic and African-American audiences, did far-better-than-expected business, taking in $9.5 million in only about 1,000 theaters to place fourth. Meanwhile, Disney's Cars dropped only 33 percent in its third week as it grossed $212.5 million to come in second. The Jack Black comedy Nacho Libre from Paramount slipped to third place with about $12.1 million, while Universal's The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift skidded to fifth with $9.2 million, suffering a 62 percent decline from the previous week. Overall ticket sales reached an estimated $4.4 billion, marking the 13th weekend in the last 14 that revenue has exceeded the comparable week a year ago. Meanwhile, reports indicated that Sony's The Da Vinci Code crossed the $700-million mark in worldwide ticket sales on Sunday. The film has earned $205.5 million in North America and $495.8 million overseas.
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. Click, $40 million; 2. Cars, $22.5 million; 3. Nacho Libre, $12.1 million; 4. Waist Deep, $9.5 million; 5. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, $9.2 million; 6. The Lake House, $8.3 million; 7. The Break-Up, $6.1 million; 8. Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, $4.75 million; 9. X-Men: The Last Stand, $4.4 million; 10. The Da Vinci Code, $4 million.
EISNER INVESTS IN FIRM THAT PRODUCES SPORTS DVD'S -- FOR TOTS
Michael Eisner, who presumably knows a thing or two about producing entertainment for small children, has bought Houston-based Team Baby Entertainment, which produces college sports-related DVDs for small children with such titles as "Baby Irish," "Baby Longhorn," and "Baby Wolverine." Team Baby currently distributes the DVD's itself on its website Teambabyentertainment.com. They're also sold at campus bookstores. In a statement, Eisner said, ""Team Baby's products are unique in the marketplace for preschool videos in that they introduce a child to its parents' favorite athletic teams while also promoting the idea of sports and teamwork."
CBS GOING TO THE MOVIES -- AND INVESTORS APPROVE
Wall Street has reacted enthusiastically to CBS Chairman Les Moonves announcement last week that the company may reenter the theatrical movie business after more than 20 years, financing and producing films in the $20-50-million range. CBS shares closed Friday at $26.50, up 4 percent over two days and close to its all-time high since last January's split from Viacom. The announcement triggered "buy" recommendations from several analysts, but some observed that the split was intended to focus CBS and Viacom -- which owns Paramount, which owns DreamWorks -- on what each does best. In CBS's case, making TV shows; in Viacom's, making movies. MotleyFool.com commentator Steven Mallas commented Friday, "If I owned CBS, I'd be scratching my head right about now."
GOVERNMENT'S EFFORTS TO CURB PIRACY TOO WEAK, SAY OFFICIALS
Jack Kyser, the chief economist at the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp., has reacted coolly to a Justice Department report describing stepped-up prosecution of movie and music bootleggers. According to the report, released by U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the number of indictments for copyright piracy has doubled in the past two years, but Kaiser told the Los Angeles Daily News, "They talk a good game, but it's still a very significant problem. ... It's still basically out of control. Regardless of what they say ... it's still rampant." Congressman Adam Schiff of Pasadena agreed, telling the newspaper, "I think this report highlights some important first steps, but we have no evidence that they've made a meaningful dent in the problem."
PELLICANO CASE MAY NOT FLY, SAYS REPORT
The Anthony Pellicano wiretapping case now appears likely to sputter out without the previously expected indictments of high-profile Hollywood attorneys and their clients, the Los Angeles Times indicated today, noting that the government had failed to decrypt nearly 300 of Pellicano's recordings found on his computers when they were seized. The newspaper, however, quoted law enforcement sources and others who have reviewed the government's case as saying that even without the recordings, it has sufficient evidence to prove its case. It quoted defense lawyer Peter Knecht as saying, "This case has had so much publicity attached to it -- for the government to lose it would be a real blow. It would be like losing [the] O.J." Simpson murder case.