CABLEVISION PAYS $650 MILLION FOR NEWSDAY
New York-based Cablevision announced today (Monday) that it has acquired the Long Island newspaper Newsday and related properties for $650 million. The announcement came just two days after Rupert Murdoch's News Corp pulled out of the bidding, saying that the price was unrealistic. While analysts had expected shareholders to react negatively to Cablevision's expensive acquisition, shares in the company appeared to be unaffected by the deal. Cablevision CEO James Dolan said that he saw numerous synergies. "Both Cablevision and Newsday are in the content, customer relationship and advertising business, and we see this as a wonderful fit," he said in a statement. The announcement of the Newsday acquisition comes just one week after the company said that it had agreed to buy the Sundance Channel for $496 million.
BROADCASTING TITAN PAPPAS FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY
Pappas Telecasting, one of the nation's leading privately-held broadcasting companies, has filed for bankruptcy. Although the company owns 30 TV stations, only 13 have been put into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. All are in medium- to upscale markets, including Omaha, Sioux City, El Paso, Reno, San Francisco, and Houston. The company indicated that its stations affiliated with the CW network had been particularly hard hit given that network's poor ratings. It also blamed the overall "extremely difficult business climate for television stations across the country," which have been required to make the costly switch from analog to digital broadcasting even as the current recession has reduced advertising revenue.
HOUSEWIVES' AUDIENCE SLOW TO RETURN
ABC's Desperate Housewives may have continued to dominate the ratings Sunday night, capturing 15.4 million viewers, but the number remained well below that of a couple of years ago when the program regularly captured more than 20 million. But then, ratings for other top network programs Sunday also showed the continuing ratings erosion since the writers' strike. (Sunday's New York Times reported that the television networks have seen six million viewers disappear since the 2007 May sweeps.) Bucking the trend on Sunday was ABC's Brothers & Sisters, which drew 11.02 million viewers to a season-finale episode following Housewives in which two gay characters were married.
NBC CHIEF SAYS HE'D WELCOME COURIC BACK
NBC chief Jeff Zucker has indicated that Katie Couric would be welcomed back at his network if CBS decides to remove her from the anchor desk of the CBS Evening News and frees her to pursue other endeavors. Zucker told the London Financial Times on Friday, "Katie remains one of the most talented journalists of her generation and somebody who would be an asset to whatever news division, whatever organization she worked in. So we would always welcome somebody of Katie's ability and stature, but that's not. ... in the cards any time in the near future."
FOX NEWS FIRES STAFFER AFTER SHE CHEERS MCCAIN
Fox News has confirmed that it fired 24-year-old production assistant Jennifer Locke after she was seen shouting to presidential candidate John McCain, "I voted for you in the primary. You're going to win!" as McCain stepped onto the red carpet at last week's Time magazine gala honoring the nation's 100 most influential figures. When McCain spotted her holding a microphone emblazoned with a Fox News logo, he remarked, "You're not supposed to reveal that." Intentionally adding insult to injury, the clip was aired by MSNBC's Dan Abrams on the "Beat the Press" segment of his show. The website TVNewser reported that Fox News had called Locke's remarks "journalistically unacceptable" and wasted no time booting the production assistant who had worked for Fox News for two years.
HEFNER WANTS CYRUS TO POSE FOR PLAYBOY -- WHEN SHE'S 18
In the wake of the row over Miley Cyrus's photo spread in Vanity Fair, Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner has indicated he would probably ask her to pose nude for his magazine in three years, when she's 18 and of legal age. Interviewed on the syndicated TV show Extra, Hefner remarked, "Sure she'd be welcome in the magazine. Very pretty lady." As for that Vanity Fair photo of her holding satin sheets around her with her shoulders and back exposed, Hefner said, "To make such a big to-do over something as innocent as those photos, I think is a reflection on how schizophrenic America is about sexuality." Separately it was reported by the website XBIZ.com that Playboy is planning to launch a video-on-demand channel aimed at gay males next month. The website quoted from a letter to Time Warner Cable from Playboy President Bob Meyers that described the planned softcore offerings.
FATHER OF IDOL TOP-THREE FINALIST BOOTED OUT OF REHEARSALS
Jeff Archuleta, the father of American Idol top-three finalist David Archuleta, has been banned from attending rehearsals, published reports said Friday, citing a person working for the show. The report, which originally appeared on the gossip website TMZ.com, claimed that producers made their decision after Jeff Archuleta's decision to change lyrics of a song his son performed Tuesday night resulted in the program's incurring additional music clearance costs.