TV BIZ REMAINS UNSETTLED AFTER SETTLEMENT

Repercussions of the writers' strike are likely to be felt among advertisers well into the fall season, Advertising Age observed Monday. The trade publication forecast that during the immediate future, less original programming will air on the networks and that new series may not debut until well into the fourth quarter. AdAge also published details of a study by Sanford Bernstein analyst Michael Nathanson, which noted that the 18-49-year-old audience was down an average of 11 percent through Jan. 27, with CBS down 19.6 percent. ABC fell 15.2 percent and NBC, 13.8 percent. Fox was the only network to gain, up 3.7 percent.

WRITERS SET TO WRITE "THE END" TO STRIKE

The membership of the Writers Guild of America is expected to vote today (Tuesday) to end the strike that has crippled the entertainment business since November 5. In an interview with Broadcasting and Cable magazine, WGA executive director David Young acknowledged that the guild was forced to employ a double-edged sword. "If you inflict [damage]," he said, "you are inflicting it on yourself, too. ... You are losing the television season and the pilot season. ... But the question was: Where are you taking [the guild members] and what are you getting for them if you take them there?" Some critics of the strike have argued from the beginning that the potential gains from Internet residuals are likely to be minimal compared with the combined losses. In today's New York Times, media columnist David Carr commented, "The negotiating committee for the writers is proud that they were able to establish a percentage payment on the distributor's gross, but that win will be largely symbolic unless there is a fundamental change in the economics of digital distribution." He suggested that the new contract may encourage writers to join with producers to find a way of making Internet distribution of programming economically viable. In related news, Nielsen Research said Monday that it will begin measuring "TV viewing on the PC screen" by the end of the year.

BACK IN BUSINESS, ABC RENEWS NINE SHOWS

ABC wasted no time Monday following the return of showrunners to their offices (and an expected return-to-the-fold of writers later this week) to announce the renewal of nine series, including Dirty Sexy Money, Private Practice, Pushing Daisies, Samantha Who?, Brothers & Sisters, Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, Lost and Ugly Betty. It was unclear, however, which of the shows would reappear with fresh episodes before the end of the current season, although it was virtually certain that a few new episodes of the network's most popular shows, including Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Lost, and Ugly Betty will air. Some network executives have previously mooted the possibility of extending the season into early summer.

90-MINUTE DEAL TOPS MONDAY

The usual Monday-night winners, Deal or No Deal on NBC and Two and a Half Men on CBS, continued to trounce the competition in their latest outing. An hour and a half of Deal averaged an 8.5 rating and a 13 share, while a repeat of Men recorded an 8.1/12. By contrast, the battle between reality shows Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann on ABC and American Gladiators on NBC fell far behind in the ratings, with War garnering a 6.4/9 and Gladiators, only a 5.1/8. CBS's new sitcom Welcome to the Captain was turned away in the 8:00 p.m. hour, drawing a fourth-place 4.6/7 in its second week.

U.K. VIEWERS TUNE OUT BAFTA AWARDS

Televised awards ceremonies are doing no better at drawing an audience in Britain than they are in the United States. On the same night that the Grammy awards drew the third-lowest ratings in its history in the U.S., the BAFTA awards, Britain's equivalent of the Oscars, fared even worse. Sunday's awards show, in which Atonement won for best picture, attracted only 3.5 million viewers. By contrast, Dancing on Ice, which aired at the same time on commercial broadcaster ITV, attracted nearly 10 million. The British tabloid The Sun said part of the reason for the low ratings may have been a technical problem at the opening of the awards show that resulted in the host's voice sounding "muffled" for about 10 minutes.

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.