Tuesday, June 28, 2016

FCC's Wheeler Proposes 'Minor' Ownership Rule Changes

Tom Wheeler
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Monday proposed retaining most rules limiting cross ownership of newspapers, radio and TV stations in the same market.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler proposed retaining the existing rules barring companies in most instances from owning a newspaper and a broadcast TV or radio station in the same market, as well as other individual market limits on radio and TV stations with "slight modification," according to the summary of a proposal to fellow commissioners seen by Reuters.

Congress had ordered the commission in 1996 to review cross ownership rules every four years but the FCC last completed a review in 2006. The FCC still has not completed the 2010 or 2014 reviews.

The FCC in 1975 banned cross-ownership of a newspaper and broadcast station in the same market unless it granted a waiver, but allowed existing ownership structures to remain in place.

Wheeler is proposing to modestly relax the rule by providing an exception for failed or failing newspapers or stations.

The struggling U.S. newspaper industry has long sought an end to the ban. The Newspaper Association of America told Congress in 2014 that cross-ownership allows journalists at newspapers and broadcast stations to collaborate.

Michael O'Rielly
Republican FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly said in a blog post this month that the cross-ownership limits should be scrapped.

"Broadcasters and newspapers have much to contribute in terms of diverse, local content, but many have been left fighting, some for their very survival, with an artificially-narrowed range of options," O'Rielly wrote.

The Pew Research Center said in a report this month that U.S. newspaper weekday circulation fell 7 percent and Sunday circulation fell 4 percent in 2015 -- the greatest declines since 2010.

Wheeler also proposed reinstating limits on ad-sharing by nearby TV stations that a court rejected in May, and he proposed retaining the four-decade old ban on common ownership of a broadcast station and nearby daily newspaper, according to a fact sheet circulated by the FCC.

Wheeler in 2014 led the FCC to vote to restrict ad-sharing, and Congress stepped in to declare existing arrangements couldn’t be affected until 2025, sparing Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. and other companies that used the sharing. Any new rules would apply to new combinations.

Advertising revenue at U.S. newspapers fell nearly 8 percent in 2015 -- the steepest decline since 2009. The U.S. has shed more than 120 newspapers since 2004, Pew said.

In May, a U.S. federal appeals court struck down regulations aimed at cracking down on joint sales agreements by local broadcasters, saying an overall review of media ownership rules was long overdue and needed to be completed first.

The three-judge panel of the 3rd Circuit U.S. Appeals Court in Philadelphia said the commission's regulation "put the cart before the horse" because it had failed to finalize the overall review of media ownership rules.

Wheeler's proposal also leaves in place rules barring mergers among any of the top four national television broadcast networks -- ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox.

Offer To Meet With Redstone Rejected By Viacom Board

Sumner Redstone
By Jessica Toonkel and Dan Levine

NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Viacom Inc's  board rejected an offer by Sumner Redstone's attorneys to have one of Viacom's independent directors meet face-to-face with the 93-year-old media mogul to get an understanding of his views on the media company, a spokesman for Redstone confirmed on Monday.

The board's dismissal of a possible route toward a settlement shows how far apart the two sides are in the legal fight for control over Redstone's $40 billion media empire, amid questions over whether the magnate is making his own decisions or is even of sound enough mind to do so.

Redstone offered to meet Viacom independent director Charles Phillips in the days after Viacom lead independent director Fred Salerno filed suit over Redstone's June 16 move to oust him and four other directors, including Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, from the Viacom board, Reuters exclusively reported Monday.

Last week Salerno vetoed the idea, opting instead to continue with litigation, sources told Reuters.

Philippe Dauman
Salerno and Phillips declined to comment. In a statement, Viacom did not confirm or deny it received such an offer from Redstone. But did say it would be wrong to suggest such a meeting could "actually assess" Redstone's capacity.

Salerno has sent a number of letters to Redstone over the past several weeks requesting a meeting with him to discuss his views of the business, and to go over the rationale for Dauman's planned stake sale of Viacom's Paramount movie studio.

"We are quite concerned that your voice - and views - are not being heard," Salerno wrote in a June 14 letter, made public by Viacom.

The fact that the Viacom board rejected Redstone's offer of a meeting with Phillips showed claims by Viacom executives and Salerno that they are being blocked from meeting with Redstone are "fiction," said Mike Lawrence, a spokesman for Redstone, in a statement.

"Fred Salerno, Philippe Dauman, and (Viacom board member) George Abrams have repeatedly told the courts that the Viacom board is being blocked from meeting with Sumner, leaving them no choice but to pursue claims," Lawrence said in the statement.  "That fiction has been shattered."

Viacom called those statements both inaccurate and incomplete.

"The one fact not in question is that an examination to assess Mr. Redstone's capacity and undue influence needs to happen," the company said in a statement.

Fred Salerno
For investors, the impasse could mark the beginning of a long legal battle that will prolong the uncertainty over the future of Viacom. The company's shares closed down 5.1 percent on Monday, in a broadly lower market.

Redstone's privately held movie holding company, National Amusements Inc, owns 80 percent of the voting shares of Viacom as well as CBS Corp <CBS.N>. On June 16, when National Amusements moved to oust the five directors from the board, investors told Reuters they hoped a change in management or a merger between CBS and Viacom could be on the horizon.

On the same day, National Amusements asked a Delaware court to affirm the changes, while Salerno shot back with his own suit seeking to block the move, calling it "invalid" and the result of Redstone's daughter Shari Redstone manipulating her father.

A Delaware judge said last week that he would schedule a hearing in July in a case about whether National Amusements' move was valid.

Rose GA Radio: Kevin Daniels Moving On To Huntsville

Kevin Daniels
After just over 20 years with Rome Radio Partners LLC, Operations Manager Kevin Daniels has accepted the job as Operations Manager and Assistant General Manager at Rocket City Broadcasting in Huntsville, Alabama.

Rocket City Broadcasting consists of three stations: AC WAHR Star 99.1 FM, Active Rock WRTT-Rocket 95.1 FM, and Urban WLOR Sunny 98.1 FM.

WRGA reports Rome Radio Partners Owner Howard Toole said, “Kevin will be stepping into the highest levels of Upper Management and we are all very excited for him. This is a great opportunity for Kevin. He has earned the right to take a group of stations in Huntsville, Alabama to an entirely new level. His knowledge of the broadcast industry would fill volumes of books. His new staff is very lucky to have a talented broadcaster to head their group of stations. This is a great career opportunity for Kevin.”

Daniels started off as a part-time sports announcer for the Morning Show on South 93.5 and worked his way up to taking over the Morning Show. He also worked in sales at one point in time and was then promoted to operations manager.

Daniels is also the current host of Long Ride Home on South 93.5 from 3-7 p.m. and will be on air until July 15.

“I’m going to miss the people. This is my family! I’m going to miss not only people who I work with at the station, but the listeners as well,” said Daniels.

Daniels owns a portion of Rome Radio Partners LLC and will always be a part of this ‘Family’.

Pandora, Uber Partner To Provide Music To Drivers

(Reuters) -- Ride-hailing giant Uber is integrating online radio station Pandora into its app for drivers for easy listening on trips, the companies announced on Monday.

The deal gives Uber a new perk to dangle to drivers and strengthens Pandora’s presence in the key automotive market. The program begins Monday in the United States, Australia and New Zealand, the countries in which Pandora operates, and will be offered without ads for the first six months.

The move puts Pandora front and center for Uber's 450,000 active drivers in the United States.

Uber has been revamping its music experience for drivers and passengers. It already has a deal with popular music streaming service Spotify to allow passengers to select music to play during rides, and the company is preparing to re-launch that program with Pandora offered as another option for passengers.

Uber said it overhauled its app for drivers last year, making it easier to integrate third parties such as Pandora.

Most of Pandora's audience listens to the service for free with ads, but the Oakland, California-based company is preparing to launch an on-demand service.

Pandora will retain data about the music drivers listen to during trips, the company said.

D/FW Radio: KRLD Adds Melissa Harrison To AM Drive

Melissa Harrison
KRLD 1080 AM has announced that Melissa Harrison will join Mike Rogers and Scott Sams as co-anchor of the KRLD Morning News beginning Friday, July 1.

“Melissa’s extensive journalism experience will further strengthen the award-winning KRLD news team,” said Director of News and Programming Paul Mann. “As with co-anchors Mike Rogers and Scott Sams, Melissa’s roots run deep in North Texas, and she is passionate about our community.

Harrison is a veteran journalist who has worked as a television news reporter in New York and Dallas-Fort Worth as well as Birmingham, Ala., Jackson, Miss., Waco and Abilene. She was most recently a freelance reporter for KXAS-TV in Dallas-Fort Worth. She has also served an assistant professor and broadcast journalism consultant at Biola University near Los Angeles.

“It is an honor to join the morning drive team at KRLD,” Harrison said. “The station has a rich history of being the place to go for breaking news, weather and traffic. I look forward to joining Mike and Scott and the entire morning team as we keep North Texans informed of what they need to know as they begin each and every day.”

KRLD 1080 AM (50 Kw DA-N)
Harrison earned her Master of Science in Journalism from Columbia University. She received her undergraduate degree from Baylor University.

K-M Richards Launches '80s Channel Option

A more rock-oriented version of The Eighties Channel™ format is now available as an option for stations wanting to take advantage of the increased popularity of that decade’s music. 

“As we developed the Classic Hits version of the format at KRKE 94.5 fM Albuquerque over a 16- month period, we realized that a significant percentage of songs in our ‘mainstream’ category were from artists such as Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, and Def Leppard,” said format creator and consultant K.M. Richards. 

“With that in mind, we reviewed songs from the 1980s that are getting airplay on Classic Rock stations and created a list of those which enjoyed heavy radio play and MTV exposure as currents.”


Those songs can now be used as a category within the format for stations that would benefit from a harder edge. Richards went on to say that “the vast majority of stations will want the basic version of the format” which is essentially a more decades-focused Classic Hits format. A third option is the Early Alternative version, which goes deeper into modern rock and alternative album tracks that were popular on such stations as KROQ and WLIR in the 1980s. 

For more information, call 818.479.9742, e-mail KMR@kmrichards.com, or visit the www.KMRichards.com website.

San Diego Radio: Hilary Returns To 91X

Hilary Chambers
San Diego’s 91X XETRA 91.1 FM has announced the return of radio personality Hilary Chambers to the station.

Hilary will be 91X Music Director, and host the midday show from 10:00am to 2:00pm.  Her first day on-air will be Thursday.

Hilary’s radio career started on college radio at KUCI at the University of California at Irvine in 1992.  Following part time work at KNAC Los Angeles and then 92X in Denver, Hilary returned to California to host afternoon drive on 91X for almost a decade.  After taking her talents to other stations and formats, she returns now to 91X.

XETRA 91.1 FM (100 Kw) Red=Local Coverage Area
“I am so stoked, so grateful, and so fired up to get this party started and to come full circle back to the station that has my heart!” said Hilary.

All of us here at 91X are equally as stoked as Hilary,” said 91X Program Director Michael Halloran.  “We hope we are invited to whatever party she’s talking about, and are thrilled to help her complete that circle.  We have enjoyed looking after Hilary’s heart while she ventured away from it’s home.”

St. Louis Radio: WIL Calls Humble & Kind Week A Success

92.3 WIL’s Morning Show “Bud and Broadway” Show is pleased to announce that their first ever Humble & Kind Week – which took place June 20 through 24, 2016 – was an unqualified success!

Over 1,000 listeners took the “Humble and Kind Week” pledge on the WIL Facebook page at www.facebook.com/923WIL, and reported thousands of instances of listener’s humbleness and kindness. “Humble and Kindness” acts have been reported from right here in St. Louis all the way to Las Vegas & California!

St. Louis Mayor hands Proclmation to Bud and Broadway
A few examples of last week’s “humble and kind” gestures include:
  • 17 inches of hair was donated by a pair of local sisters
  • Helping neighbors by taking out their recycling bin
  • A random man stopped to help out a young lady who needed help changing a tire. Both were WIL listeners and were trying to be “Humble and Kind”
  • A local pizza delivery driver stocked up a cooler with water and ice to give to construction workers during last week’s hot weather
  • Two daughters - 6-year-old and 8-year-old - asked if they could skip out on the snow cones at school, so they could give their snow cone money to kids who couldn’t afford them.
  • A woman called the “Bud and Broadway” Show and bragged on her Dad, who goes to the local retirement community every Sunday and picks up the residents and takes them to church!
  • 1,600 + free carousel rides were given away to anyone who came by the Chesterfield Mall Carousel and mentioned “Bud and Broadway” and the phrase “Humble and Kind”.
  • Everyone who came out to the Darius Rucker concert Friday night had the opportunity to sign a gigantic banner pledging to continue to be  “Humble and Kind”.

June 28 Radio History

In 1940...The Quiz Kids was first heard on radio as a summer replacement for the blind piano virtuoso Alec Templeton. The show, with Chicago’s Joe Kelly as host & quizmaster, continued on a succession of networks (ABC, NBC, CBS) until 1953.

In 1943...the Dreft Star Playhouse debuted on NBC radio. Jane Wyman (the first Mrs. Ronald Reagan) starred in the first broadcast, titled Bachelor Mother. The 21-month series was expensive by radio’s daytime standards, with $3,000 a week budgetted for big name talent.

In 1944...The Alan Young Show debuted on NBC radio featuring the raised-in Vancouver comedian. It was the summer replacement for the popular Eddie Cantor. The show became a regular in the fall lineup.. on ABC. Young, incidentally, made the switch to TV in 1961. He became a CBS star with a talking horse, of course, of course, named Mister Ed.

In 1947…The forerunner of TV's "Candid Camera," "Candid Microphone" began its 15-month run on ABC Radio. It returned to the air on CBS Radio for three months in 1950.

In 1951...an old favorite of radio audiences made the switch to TV.  Amos ‘n’ Andy moved to CBS-TV. Two years later, criticism from the NAACP about ‘stereotyping’ forced the network to drop the show.

In 1965…Early Bird (Intelsat II), the first commercial communications satellite, began service.

In 1965....Dick Clark's latest rock n' roll variety show, Where The Action Is, premieres on ABC-TV, featuring performances by Jan & Dean, Dee Dee Sharp and Linda Scott, and also introducing a new house band called Paul Revere and the Raiders.

Meanwhile, over on CBS, influential DJ Murray The K's variety special It's What's Happening, Baby! features performances by The Supremes, The Ronettes, The Drifters, The Miracles, The Temptations, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Martha and the Vandellas, The Righteous Brothers, Tom Jones, The Dave Clark Five, Patti Labelle and the Bluebelles, and Gary Lewis and the Playboys.

In 1968...Don Imus got his first radio job. Imus was a brakeman on the Southern Pacific Railroad. Upon winning a talent contest at Johnny Otis's nightclub, he began working as a singer/songwriter, managed by Otis.

After hearing a morning disc-jockey, he went to the nearby radio station and persuaded the owner to hire him. Thus he began his career as a radio disc jockey on June 28, 1968 at radio station KUTY in Palmdale, California.

He stayed at the station until 1969 when he left for a job at KJOY, a small radio station in Stockton, California. He was later fired for saying "hell" on air.

After being fired in Stockton, he went to KXOA in Sacramento, California. His on-air pranks, such as calling up a restaurant and ordering 1200 hamburgers to go, made his show immensely popular and boosted ratings.

In 1975...David Bowie released the single, "Fame", to Radio.

In 1997...George Harrison secretly undergoes surgery to have a cancerous lump removed from his throat. Though it turns out to be benign, the ex-Beatle will eventually succumb to the disease in 2001.

In 2013…Veteran radio broadcaster Rick Barber, a KOA-Denver talk show host for 30 years, died following complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease) at 67.

His voice kept company with countless insomniacs in Colorado and beyond for 30 years on "The Rick Barber Show." The show was an institution on KOA 850 AM from 1982 until he signed off in early 2012, a victim of Clear Channel downsizing.

In 2015…Radio personality (KSTP-Minneapolis-St. Paul, WNOE-New Orleans, KAAY, Little Rock, WOOJ-Baton Rouge) William Grady "Doctor" Brock died at the age of 66.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Nielsen: Radio Is Less Fragmented Than Digital

Nielsen today officially released its First Quarter Total Audience Report which examines large trends in penetration, users and usage across all platforms; shows how different demos and race/ethnicity groups spend their media time; and explores the contributions of heavy users.

Despite growing options, radio and television continue to reach the most users in the U.S. each month. Of new technologies, smartphones have the largest reach.

The new Nielsen data shows broadcast media is far less fragmented than digital with the average consumer tuning to 20 TV channels over the course of a month and just seven radio stations. As a less-fragmented, high-reach medium, radio is simpler for media planners to use, Tunkel said. “It’s simple to execute, it’s effective, it’s going to deliver the reach,” he said. “And any one station will have engagement with that audience because they’re not dividing their time up among 55 different radio stations.”

Key Takeaways from Nielsen's 1Q 2016 Total Audience Report:
  • Traditional platforms continue to make up the largest part of media usage.
  • Radio has the most consistent share of time spent across demographics.
  • The share of live TV increases with age while the share of digital and TV-Connected Devices is highest among younger adults.
  • P18-34 and P35-49 have about the same share of media usage going to digital.
  • More than half of overall time spent for blacks is spent with live TV.
  • AM/FM radio represents a fifth of time spent for Hispanics while digital makes up one-third of the share.

Nielsen: Video Streaming On Par With DVRs

Streaming video subscriptions are now just as common in U.S. homes as digital video recorders, according to new research from Nielsen.

According to findings presented in Nielsen’s first-quarter 2016 Total Audience Report, SVOD services have reached a milestone. For the first time, the U.S. penetration of these services has caught up to DVR penetration. In fact, half of all homes in the U.S. have access to SVOD services, such as Netflix or Hulu—equaling U.S. DVR penetration.

SVOD penetration has been rising steadily over the past year, illustrating that viewers have a continued desire to control what they watch and when they watch it. And in many cases, that means more playback options is better. In fact, close to 30% of homes have a both DVR and access to SVOD—up nearly 20% from last year.

According to the recent report, the heaviest users of digital devices account for a vast majority of each device or platform’s overall usage. With penetration and usage of digital devices increasing, marketers and advertisers should take note.

Television and radio usage behavior is different among the top 20% of users because of both platforms’ wide reach and availability. Instead, their distributions seem to be more balanced, with the heaviest TV and radio users accounting for around 50% of total usage each. Both mechanisms of media still hold the title when it comes to monthly reach: AM/FM radio attracts 240 million adult users and live + DVR/time-shifted TV attracts 226 million.

People are also spending more time with newer technologies. Daily usage of tablets and smartphones alone has increased 63% and 60%, respectively, among adults since just last year: tablet usage is up 12 minutes, and smartphone usage increased 37 minutes.

Although the time spent using traditional devices like television has remained constant, consumer attention continues to expand. That’s not to say consumers are ignoring traditional forms of media–in fact, traditional platforms continue to account for the largest part of media usage.

The rapid growth of new media is indicative of an evolving media palate. With more choices being made available to consumers, it’s becoming increasingly pertinent for marketers and advertisers to understand the behaviors associated with them.

Cumulus Wants TRN Suit Tossed

Cumulus Media and Westwood One have asked a U.S. District Court in Oregon to allow them to toss an antitrust lawsuit brought against them and other content providers by Talk Radio Network.

In a suit filed in April, Talk Radio Network Enterprises, based in Central Point, OR has alleged that Cumulus Media, the second-largest owner of radio stations in the country, engaged in anti-competitive practices, according to an antitrust lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Medford.

Talk Radio Network, which goes by the acronym TRN, syndicates its "America's Morning News" talk radio news program to stations across the country, along with other programs.

The Mail-Tribune reports the suit argues Cumulus' 2013 acquisition of Westwood One, which places 90 percent of national radio ad time, created an unfair advantage. TRN alleges the Cumulus deprived other radio companies of revenue through Westwood One's preferred placement of national advertising with syndicated programs Cumulus carries.

"Indeed, on a national basis, as a result of multiple mergers and acquisitions, Cumulus is the dominant force in ownership and/or operation of top radio stations within the largest radio markets in the United States," a court document says. Cumulus owns more than 450 radio stations in 90 markets nationwide.

The suit alleges 12 anti-trust actions by Cumulus, Westwood and individuals tied to the companies. The allegations include monopolization of the advertising representative market, conspiracy to monopolize by interfering with contract negotiations with hosts and breach of contract. TRN is seeking a jury to determine damages.

Cumulus filed a motion last week in Medford seeking to move the case from Medford to a central California court, on grounds that a similar suit against Westwood's predecessor was dismissed by the California court in 2012.

Chicago Radio: Report..WGN Extends Steve Cochran Contract

Steve Cochran
WGN 720 AM reportedly has extended the contract of personality talker Steve Cochran through December 2020.

“When I started at WGN in 2000 I thought it would be for good, and I was wrong,” Cochran said. “When I was thrown out in 2010 I thought I would never be back, and I was wrong. When I came back in 2013 I thought I would be lucky to have just a three-year run, and I was wrong. So no more predictions. I’m glad I’m here for as long as it lasts.”

Chicago media writer Robert Feder reports,  the 55-year-old Cochran still had more than two years left on his last deal — a four-year agreement signed in September 2014. The additional two-year extension, expected to be announced Monday, signals another vote of confidence from Jimmy de Castro, president and general manager of WGN.

“Steve makes it look easy with his affable brand of intelligence, but nobody works harder to gather and share the stories Chicagoans care about,” programmer chief Todd Manley said of Cochran and his show. “He’s got the raw talent and work ethic we need for many years to come.”

WGN, ratings have held steady for Cochran’s morning show, which ranks third in the market with a 5.6 percent share (6+)  and cumulative audience of 345,000, according to the latest Nielsen Audio survey.

Cochran’s show features an ensemble of contributors, including co-anchor and reporter Andrea Darlas, news and business reporter Steve Grzanich, sports anchor Dave Eanet and traffic reporter Mary Van De Velde.

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Report: No CNN 'Revolt' Over Lewandowski Hiring

CNN's own senior media correspondent Brian Stelter found no evidence of insurrection over the network's controversial hiring of ousted Trump campaign manager and reporter-antagonist Corey Lewandowski, who is now a salaried CNN talking head.

On Friday, the NY Post reported "'CNN is facing a near internal revolt over the Corey hiring,' said a TV insider, who described many in the newsroom as 'livid.' 'Female reporters and producers especially . . . They are organizing and considering publicly demanding' that Lewandowski be let go."

"I approached this story the same way I would if I worked at my former employer The New York Times. I called and emailed more than a dozen sources all around CNN, and I found no signs of a revolt and no organized protest about Lewandowski's hiring,"

Stelter said on "Reliable Sources" Sunday. "But I did find some discomfort. There are some people that are uncomfortable with the hiring, and there might be some awkward moments in the makeup room. But everyone I asked also said they understand the hiring."

As soon as Stelter brought his panelists on, though, Baltimore Sun media critic David Zurawik let loose. Mediaite reports he made it clear he hates the idea of TV networks hiring political operatives in general, but Lewandowski’s on a whole different level. He said that Lewandowski embraced McCarthyite tactics with lies and a “snarly vicious tone on the campaign trail.” Zurawik praised CNN for doing great work this election season, but was just dismayed by them wanting “to bring this snake into it.”

Fox News’ Howard Kurtz took a few jabs at CNN on Sunday’s MediaBuzz over the network’s decision to hire Lewandowski. Kurtz called it a “sad move” by CNN because Lewandowski will not say anything negative at all about his ex-boss—partly because of loyalty, partly because of that NDA he signed. And as Kurtz pointed out, there was virtually no difference between Lewandowski’s CNN interviews before and after joining.

Report: Viacom's Cable Nets Under Siege

Viacom’s management drama is unfolding at a time when its main business — running cable networks — is under siege, according to USAToday.

Pay-TV operators are facing a shrinking subscriber base due to more customers “cutting the cord.” And they’re seeking to pay lower "affiliate fees” to cable networks for their content.

Cable networks with middling content and low ratings — some analysts say many of Viacom’s networks fill that bill — are more vulnerable than ever to the threat of being dropped if they don’t pay the asking price. Viacom’s domestic affiliate revenues fell 2% in the fiscal second quarter, reflecting a drop in subscribers and, as the company called it, “softer” ratings.

Source: Nielsen
Revenue for the media networks division fell 3% overall in the second quarter to $2.38 billion as advertising sales also declined.

Viacom’s vulnerabilities were exposed when some 60 small cable operators dropped its channels in 2014 in a fee standoff. Suddenlink, the biggest of the group, said a few months later that dropping Viacom channels led to a decline of just 2% to 2.5% of its customer base. The revelation further cemented Viacom’s reputation as a company with no must-have channels, a dangerous position at a time when cable companies are experimenting with “skinny bundles” that include only essential channels.

While it has some of the best known cable network brands in America, Viacom didn’t have any networks among the 10 most-watched cable channels last year, according to Nielsen’s data for the list of top networks among viewers aged 18-49 during prime time published by Variety. Viacom says its networks collectively draw more TV viewers than any other cable network operator.

Much of Viacom’s troubles — operationally and financially — could have been mitigated if it were a larger company, analysts say. The larger the cable network operator, the more leverage it has against pay-TV companies, their argument goes. “One place scale is important is in affiliate fee negotiations vis-à-vis (pay-TV operators),” wrote Michael Nathanson, an industry analyst at MoffettNathanson, in an investor note.

Viacom’s future isn’t entirely bleak. It is still the largest cable network operator in terms of viewers. And with Nickelodeon, MTV, VH1 and BET, it is arguably the dominant player in the kids, music and African American markets, says Brian Wieser of Pivotal Resarch Group.

Ratings for Nickelodeon, in particular, have stabilized, and it is once again the most popular kids network, Viacom says. And it’s investing more than $6 billion annually in new content, the company says.

Viacom CEO Waits For Redstone Ruling

Philippe Dauman
Embattled Viacom CEO Philippe Daumans — who has spent the last few days on the French Riviera at the Cannes advertising festival — should learn this week whether a judge will grant his demand for an “immediate” mental examination of controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone.

The NY Post reports Dauman’s lawyers believe the examination will show the ailing mogul didn’t have the mental capacity to oust him and fellow director George Abrams from the board of Redstone’s National Amusements Inc. and a family trust.

Dauman and Abrams have sued to block their removals, claiming the 93-year-old tycoon is being manipulated by his daughter, Shari. She sits on the NAI board and on the seven-member family trust that will eventually control Redstone’s $40 billion empire.

Redstone’s mental capacity is also taking center stage in a separate lawsuit playing out in Delaware over the mogul’s move to boot Dauman and four other directors from Viacom’s board.

The argument in both cases is that Redstone was not of sound mind in stripping Dauman and others from their corporate responsibilities, but was unduly influenced by Shari.

Study Finds Millennials Like Ads..If...

Millennial viewers, usually thought of as aware and even skeptical of advertising, respond to ads that are relevant, a study conducted by comScore for YouTube found.

According to Broadcasting&Cable, the study also said that while young viewers watch more traditional TV than digital video, they express a strong preference for YouTube and binge watch more than older viewers.

Among 18 to 34 year olds, 62% said they take action after viewing an ad, compared to 51% in the 35 and up age group, and 47% of young viewers said they pay more attention when viewing personalized ads, compared to 35% among older viewers.

“Many millennials exhibit a more favorable response to brand that earn their loyalty and are relevant,” comScore said in a blog post.

Millennials said they prefer digital video to traditional TV, and especially like YouTube with 35% saying YouTube was their preferred provider of video content, compared to 19% who said traditional TV.

Heavy video consumption comes from binge watching. In the study 37% of millennials say they binge watch daily, compared to 14% of viewers 35 and older. Those younger viewers said they were twice as likely to binge on YouTube than on traditional TV.

YouTube viewers can’t be dismissed as just kids. comScore identified YouTube’s most passionate fans and said 51% of these “die hards” are employed full time, 43% have kids and 49% are female.
comScore said it findings provide a look into future viewing patterns.

“This is good news for advertisers because when consumers are deeply engaged with content, it’s a great opportunity for your brand message to resonate. Not to mention digital distribution provides a better ability to target the right audiences.”

The study is based on a survey of 2,940 respondents.