MILLIONS WITHOUT TV ON FEB. 17?
An official of Consumers Union, parent of Consumer Reports magazine, has indicated that the current educational campaign to alert the public to the transition to digital TV on February 17, has failed to reach millions of Americans, who will be unable to receive television when the switch occurs. "We need boots on the ground," Consumers Union policy analyst Joel Kelsey has told the New York Times. Kelsey advocates that an army of people, including firefighters and television industry personnel, be sent knocking at homes and setting up converter boxes for consumers. Another analyst, Richard Doherty with Envisioneering Group, commented, "This transition is possibly one of the worst understood consumer education programs in modern times."
"CUT PRICES!" DEMAND AD BUYERS
Network television executives are being asked by ad buyers to roll back prices for TV spots while the current recession continues, according to TVWeek magazine. The trade publication said that while the executives are largely sympathetic, there's currently enough demand for the spots for them to hold fast. "I think every client in town is trying to push every network to see if they can get lower pricing," Andy Donchin, director of national broadcast at media buyer Carat, told TV Week. "Everyone's having discussions and we'll see what the market bears." But Jon Nesvig, head of sales for Fox Broadcasting, said. said, "While we recognize the concern in the marketplace, our clients continue to receive excellent value from our partnership and their upfront deals. ... There have been no renegotiations."
NETWORKS SUFFER MORE SATURDAY-NIGHT FEVER
The networks' Saturday night ratings erosion continued unabated over the weekend, with Fox holding down the title of most-watched network with an average of just 5.31 million viewers. CBS placed second with only 4.93 million. NBC came in third with 3.99 million viewers, while ABC trailed with 2.95 millions. The low ratings appeared particularly puzzling since most of the country was experiencing bitterly cold weather, which ordinarily would have kept people at home glued to their TV sets, not only for the latest weather information but simply to keep warm. (But some analysts point out that the Saturday before Christmas ranks second only to Black Friday as the biggest shopping day of the year.)
NEWLYWEDS VS. GOLDWEBS IN REVIVED GAME SHOW
GSN, formerly known as the Game Show Network, has announced plans to revive The Newlywed Game, which ran in fits and starts from 1966 to 1988 with Bob Eubanks as host. (Eubanks was replaced by Paul Rodriguez in 1988, then returned to the show in 1996 for an additional one-season run; repeats aired in syndication through 2000.) According to the Hollywood Reporter, the new show will feature contests between newlyweds and "goldywebs" -- couples who appeared during the original series. There was no indication whether Eubanks, who is now 70, will return to the show. Executive producer Michael Davies (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire) said that an announcement about the show's host will be made shortly.
PASSAGE TO INDIA HITS ROADBLOCK
The economic downturn has forced ITV, Britain's largest commercial network, to cancel a lavish two-part adaptation of E.M. Forster's A Passage to India, despite already having paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for rights and development, the London Daily Telegraph reported Friday. "When this drama was commissioned, nobody could have foreseen the economic circumstances we find ourselves in now. This is unprecedented. We have to allocate our resources wisely," an ITV source told the newspaper. The drama, which was to have starred Matthew Macfadyen and Sally Hawkins, was to have been presented by the network as a showcase special next spring. Last week ITV said that it would cut expenses by 20 percent over the coming year.