The major television networks could lose 20 percent of their total audience as the result of a prolonged writers' strike, according to a to advertising executive. In an interview with Reuters, Steve Lanzano, COO of Havas SA's MPG remarked, "It'll be big. The issue will be where [will] people go?" Another ad exec, David Scardino of media buyers RPA, said that simply giving advertisers money back or "make goods" (free additional spots) because of audience erosion won't cut it. "Advertisers don't want money back, they want and need their ratings points and advertising weight, unless they are in some financial problems," Scardino said. Meanwhile, Sunday's New York Times reported that even as ratings fall, prices for ads have risen -- and significantly at that. According to the newspaper, which quoted research from SQAD Inc., advertisers paid on average 18 percent more in the fourth quarter for "scatter" spots than they did a year ago.


Negotiators for David Letterman's Worldwide Pants Co. and the Writers Guild of America failed to reach an agreement on Friday on a deal that would allow writers to return to work on CBS's The Late Show. The WGA issued a statement saying only that "a lively exchange of information took place." Worldwide Pants chief Rob Burnett indicated that he expected talks to resume this week. There was no indication whether Letterman might return to the air next week without an agreement with the WGA. His Tonight show rival Jay Leno is due to return a week from Wednesday.


Carson Daly says he became the first late-night talk-show host to return to the air because "an ultimatum was put in front of me" by NBC execs. In an interview appearing in today's (Monday) Los Angeles Times Daly said the ultimatum was "Put a new show on Dec. 3 or 75 people are fired. What's your answer?" Daly says he has been fending off a barrage of criticism ever since he returned to the air. "It's been a nightmare," he told the newspaper, adding that "people thought I had a choice ... as if I waned to come back, and come back without my writers. He declined to name the NBC execs who issued the order to him.


In a $1.1-billion cash deal, News Corp has agreed to sell eight of its medium-market TV stations to the investment firm Oak Hill Capital Partners. News Corp indicated that the cash will be used in connection with its acquisition of Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal.


On a night of relatively light viewing, a two-hour edition of NBC's returning Dateline news magazine led between 9:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. Friday. Each hour featured a "true crime" story, with the first hour posting a 4.3 rating and an 8 share, well above ABC's second-place Women's Murder Club, which managed only a 3.9/7. At 10:00 p.m., the second hour of Dateline recorded a 4.8/9, ahead of CBS's Numb3rs, with a 4.0/7. ABC's rival 20/20 magazine show dropped to a 3.6/7 to place third. Dateline is due to revive its ratings-grabbing "To Catch a Predator" feature next Friday with an episode that sees the capture of a man who had claimed to be an Indiana police officer. Today's (Monday) New York Daily News reported that as he was being arrested, he ran inside the house where the sting had been staged. In front of NBC's cameras, police attempted to shoot him with a Taser gun but missed. Correspondent Chris Hansen told the newspaper that the scene "was quite dramatic."

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.