NBC TO REFUND MILLIONS TO ADVERTISERS

Instead of the usual network practice of giving advertisers "make goods" when programs fail to deliver a guaranteed audience, NBC has begun reimbursing them, according to MediaWeek. The publication said on its website Monday that NBC advertisers received an average reimbursement of about $500,000 each for ratings deficiencies in the fourth quarters. The network is unable to give make goods because it is essentially sold out except for the week following Christmas -- generally regarded as an undesirable week for advertisers, MediaWeek indicated, noting that ratings are down for all the broadcast networks, a problem that arose even before the current writers' strike. Meanwhile, the writers' strike will make it more difficult for the networks to hype their midseason shows this winter. The Television Critics Association announced Monday that it had canceled its usual press tour that had been scheduled to be held in Universal City, CA in January. It reportedly costs the networks between $250,000 and $500,000 each to preview their shows for the writers each year.

AND YET ANOTHER WALK-OUT

Adding to the current labor strife in the TV and film industries, employees of the MTV Networks staged a walk-off Monday to protest recent changes in health and vacation benefits for freelance employees. Many of the employees affected, however, insisted that they have actually worked full-time and that Viacom, MTV's corporate parent, keeps them on their books as freelancers in order to avoid paying them the same benefits. The New York Times reported today (Tuesday) that employees participating in the impromptu demonstration filled almost the entire block in front of Viacom's headquarters on Broadway.

WEBSITES MADE CHUMPS BY PHONY TRUMP STORY

A recent story that Donald Trump left a waiter at Santa Monica restaurant The Buffalo Club a $10,000 tip was a hoax fabricated by a new website, Derober.com, the Los Angeles Times disclosed today (Tuesday). Among outlets carrying the phony report were FoxNews.com, Defamer, E! Online, and the Huffington Post. In a telephone interview with the Times, John Resig, who launched the website with his brother Leo, remarked, "How many people get on the front page of Fox News with a story that doesn't contain one single ounce of truth?" In fact, the story remained displayed on the FoxNews.com homepage for hours. Resig pointed out that not a single person connected with any of the websites that ran his story had contacted him to verify it. "There was no effort made at due diligence. Which would've taken, by the way, like two minutes and a cellphone. Like, really." The only calls he received, he said, were from websites asking permission to run the story.

WEBSITES COULD BENEFIT FROM WRITERS' STRIKE

If the writers' strike continues to affect television programming, viewers are likely to turn to the Internet for their entertainment, according to a poll released today (Tuesday) by the Wi-Fi Alliance and Kelton Research. Results of the poll indicated that 50 percent of TV viewers are either already going online more for entertainment or plan to do so. The survey sampled Wi-Fi users ages 18-55, the key group courted by advertisers.

NBC NABS NFL GAME FROM FOX

Invoking a provision of its contract with the NFL that gives it the right to move scheduled games to its Sunday-night time period during the last seven weeks of the season, NBC announced that it will air the Washington Redskins-Minnesota Vikings game on Dec. 23. The game had originally been scheduled to air earlier in the day on Fox.

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.