10 MILLION TV HOMES MAY GO DARK

Just nine months from now, at least ten million homes will be unable to receive television programs on any set and 15 million more will have at least one set that will not function. Those estimates are included in a new report, "The February 2009 Digital Television Transition," released today (Tuesday) by Nielsen Media Research on the potential effect of the switchover from analog to digital set for next Feb. 17. The study indicates that network morning programs are likely to be particularly affected by the switch since many of the incompatible sets are secondary units located in kitchens and bedrooms. The study shows that exclusively Spanish-speaking households are the least likely to have purchased settop converters or subscribed to cable services that will allow them to continue to receive television programs. While they represent 2 percent of the U.S. population, they make up 10 percent of completely unready households. African-American homes also show a relatively high percentage of unready sets. The study also shows that some markets are better prepared for the transition than others. In Milwaukee, for example, 18.3 percent of households are completely unready for the switch, while in New York only 3.8 percent are.

SONY: THIN IS IN

With settop cable and satellite receivers, converter boxes, game devices, and DVD players proliferating in homes, Sony has apparently concluded that thin is in. The company has released a new DVD player (DVP-NS708H) in Europe with the capacity to improve the quality of conventional DVDs to "near HD" quality via what it calls "Progressive Cinema Scanning Technology." It is 17 inches long by 8 inches wide by just 1.7 inches thick. One British reviewer described it as "waif-like."

AFTRA: NO DEAL YET

Shortly after Daily Variety posted a report on its website Monday saying that the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers had reached a tentative agreement on a new labor contract, AFTRA issued a statement saying that the article was inaccurate. "A deal has not yet been reached with the AMPTP," a union spokesman said. Both sides had continued their negotiations over the Memorial Day weekend in the hopes of reaching an accord before the AMPTP's scheduled renewed talks with the Screen Actors Guild on Wednesday. Negotiations are reportedly stalled over the issue of whether producers must seek the consent of actors to reuse their performances on clips posted online. However, today's (Tuesday) Los Angeles Times suggested that a tentative resolution of the issue could be reached as early as today.

MCCAIN, OBAMA AND CLINTON RESCUE TV

With ratings down and major companies cutting their advertising budgets, political advertising has become a boon for local stations and national broadcast and cable networks. According to TVWeek that spending is likely to continue between now and the party conventions, when normally a spending lull occurs. "This campaign was jump-started early and it's running real hot right through to the end," Brian Donahue, senior VP of Jamestown Associates, a GOP consultant, told the trade publication. "There is no time to breathe in the 2008 presidential election." Democratic consultant Steve McMahon is predicting a spending surge on the part of Sen. Barack Obama before the conventions. "I don't think there is going to be a break," he said.

YOUTUBE SAYS VIACOM THREATENS THE WEB

Viacom's $1-billion lawsuit against YouTube threatens the very foundation of online sharing, Google, YouTube's owners, claimed in a court filing on Friday, reported by the Associated Press today (Tuesday). In court documents, Google said that the lawsuit "threatens the way hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment and political and artistic expression" over the Internet. Responding to Viacom's claim that the site has done "little or nothing" to stop copyright infringement, Google said that it actually "goes far beyond its legal obligations in assisting content owners to protect their works" by removing clips at the request of content owners.

SANJAYA RETURNS

Demonstrating yet again that there is life after losing on American Idol, Nationwide Insurance announced today (Tuesday) that it had hired 2007 contestant Sanjaya Malakar to star in its series of TV ads titled "Life Comes at You Fast." The ads will target the South Asian market, where Malakar received considerable press attention as an Indian-American contestant on the talent show. Although judge Simon Cowell relentlessly battered his performances, once calling them "horrendous," the good-looking teenager seemed to defy the odds, returning week after week with a new hair style. In the Nationwide commercial, Sanjaya visits a Hindu monastery as is advised by a guru that he needs a retirement plan -- and some work on his hair.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.