MILLIONS TO LOSE VIACOM NETS TONIGHT
Unless an eleventh-hour reprieve is granted, all of Viacom's 19 cable channels, including MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, and Spike, could face elimination at midnight tonight from Time Warner Cable, the nation's second-largest cable-TV company behind Comcast. Both sides issued dire warnings of a stalemate in their negotiations, with time Warner claiming that Viacom is asking for exorbitant increases in its carriage fees and Time Warner insisting that its demands are "reasonable and modest," amounting to only 25 cents per subscriber, and that it has been able to negotiate similar raises from other major cable companies. Time Warner executives remained adamant, however, insisting that they would not back down. Time Warner Cable spokesman Alex Dudley told Reuters: "It just smacks of desperation from a company that is trying to make up for a failing business model on our subscribers' backs, and we're not going to take it."
PRO-BOWL MOVING TO ESPN
Broadcast television has lost another major sporting event to cable, this time the NFL Pro Bowl, which is moving to ESPN. The 2009 game is scheduled to air on Fox, but ESPN will now take over in 2010, when it will air the week before the Super Bowl. (Previously it aired the week after the Super Bowl.) The deal is also a loss for Hawaii, where the Pro Bowl has been played since 1980. The 2010 game is due to be played in Miami, the Super Bowl host city. The announcement came one month after ESPN said that it had signed a deal to air college football's Bowl Championship Series.
CBS DOMINATES WEAK WEEK FOR NETWORKS
CBS's 60 Minutes was watched by nearly the same number of people who tuned in to NBC's Sunday-night football game between the Denver Broncos and the San Diego Chargers. The football game, the highest-rated telecast of the week, drew 14.85 million viewers, edging out the news magazine, which pulled in 14.11 million, a difference of just 3.8 percent. Meanwhile, CBS continued to dominate during a week that saw audiences of all network shows dwindle. It averaged a 4.8 rating and a 9 share. NBC followed in second place with a 3.9/7; Fox placed third with a 3.3/6; while ABC averaged a 2.5/9.
The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:
1. Sunday Night Football, NBC, 9.0/15; 2. 60 Minutes, CBS, 8.7/15; 3. Two and a Half Men, CBS, 7.4/12; 4. The Mentalist, CBS, 6.6/11; 4. NCIS, CBS, 6.6/11; 6. Million Dollar Password, CBS, 6.3/10; 7. Cold Case, CBS, 6.1/10; 7. Sunday Night Football: Pre-kickoff, NBC, 6.1/10; 9. CSI: Miami, CBS, 5.8/10; 10. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 5.0/10; 10. (Tie) Ghost Whisperer, CBS, 5.0/9.
S.F. STATION CANCELS INTERVIEW WITH TV NEWS CRITICS
A San Francisco television station canceled an interview with two authors of a book critical of television news after the station's news director decided that he was "not all that interested in a book that is going to be critical of what we do as a business." After word leaked out of the cancellation of the interview with former Los Angeles Times TV critic Howard Rosenberg and his co-author, Charles Feldman, about their book: No Time to Think: The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle, KRON offered to reinvite the authors this weekend, but the two refused. The LAObserved.com blog published a copy of the message that Rosenberg sent to KRON news director Aaron Pero, in which he called the cancellation of the interview "unconscionable" and asked, "Do you really think [viewers'] trust in your station will crumble if they listen to some critical comments about the television news industry? If so, I would suggest strongly that the foundation upon which your station is built is a weak one."