TIME WARNER'S CABLE NETWORKS SOAR
Time Warner's cable-TV networks posted strong results in the company's second quarter with an 11 percent boost in advertising revenue overall and ratings up a whopping 33 percent at TBS and 8 percent at TNT. In a conference call with analysts, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes credited TNT's original programming strategy for its ratings rise. While Time Warner does not own a broadcast network, Bewkes said that he regards Time Warner's entertainment networks as "broadcast substitutes, and this position has increasingly resonated with advertisers as we've continued to enhance our brands." He noted that the premieres of The Closer and Saving Grace on TNT were the highest-rated cable debuts of the year, coming in at No. 1 and No 2 respectively. Bewkes also pointed out that CNN has been making impressive strides against its principal rival, Fox News. Ratings at the cable news network, he said, were up 20 percent in the key 25-54 demographic group versus the same quarter last year. "Each of the broadcast networks' news divisions and our key cable news competitor are down double-digits over the same period," he observed.
DISNEY FOR TWEEN BOYS
The Walt Disney Company, which has found enormous success developing films and cable shows that have strong appeal for "tween" girls, plans to relaunch its Toon Disney channel as Disney XD, aimed at boys ages 9-14, the Los Angeles Times reported today (Thursday). Among its offerings will be an original series titled Aaron Stone, in which a kid who's a whiz at playing video games puts his talent to work in a double life as a secret crime fighter. As the Times observes, the show resembles a male version of Hannah Montana, in which a teenage girl secretly leads a double life as a rock star. Another original series will be Mongoose & Luther, about two best friends aiming to become the world's greatest skateboarders.
MARTIN: NO DECISION TO APPEAL JACKSON RULING
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said Wednesday that he has not decided whether to appeal a court decision reversing the fine imposed on CBS stations for broadcasting the Janet Jackson "wardrobe malfunction" incident. As reported by Broadcasting & Cable, Martin said during a C-SPAN interview that he had been disappointed by the court's decision and noted that the incident has spurred Congress to increase the FCC's ability to fine stations. "It would be somewhat ironic if that prompted Congress to increase our fining authority but the courts actually said we were not able to fine them for that instance," he said.
REPORT: STATION INCREASES MANAGER'S PERKS BUT CUTS STAFF
Despite "draconian" cutbacks at WBBM-TV, the CBS-owned station in Chicago, General Manager Joe Ahern has managed to find funds to install a marble shower in the private bathroom of his new office at the station and seek reimbursement for a $5,000 lunch at the trendy Rosebud Prime restaurant on June 9, according to Chicago Sun-Times TV columnist Robert Feder. Feder said that station controller Ron Damron refused to use station funds for the reimbursement and instead went to each of Ahern's department heads and mangers demanding that they cover the cost of the lunch, which, he said, was to celebrate Ahern's 63rd birthday.
PATERSON SIGNS BILL OVERTURNING "NO COMPETE" CLAUSES
New York Governor David Paterson has signed into law a bill that would overturn certain agreements that prevent broadcast personalities from taking jobs with a competitor in the same region if they quit or are fired. The result of such agreements is that many of these personalities are either forced to move outside New York to find work or limit the kind of jobs they can apply for in the state. In a statement, Paterson said, "The contract provisions we're banning placed an unfair burden on these professionals by limiting their ability to move to other employers within the same market or within a certain time period. With the approval of this bill, we hope to empower broadcasters with greater independence as they pursue employment options."