Saturday, January 22, 2011

MSNBC, Olbermann Part Ways

Keith Olbermann, the television host who led MSNBC out of the cable-news cellar with a partisan approach that sometimes ruffled feathers, left the network two months after a two-day suspension.

According to, Last night’s show was the final “Countdown With Keith Olbermann,” the cable network said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. Talks to end the host’s contract have been under way for awhile, said a person with knowledge of the situation.

Olbermann’s exit deprives the network of its top-rated prime-time program. The 51-year-old host clashed with his bosses in November over political donations that raised questions about advocacy and journalism. He was suspended for violating NBC News policy and reinstated after two days.

“There were many occasions, particularly in the last two and a half years, where all that surrounded the show, but never the show itself, was just too much for me,” Olbermann told the audience. “But your support and loyalty, if I may use the word, insistence, ultimately required that I keep going.”

Olbermann, who promoted his own political viewpoint on “Countdown,” also hosted MSNBC’s election-night coverage. Michael Price, his manager, didn’t respond to an e-mailed request for comment.

Led by Olbermann and other liberal voices such as Rachel Maddow, MSNBC moved past CNN into second place behind Fox News in cable-news ratings, said Brad Adgate, who oversees research at Horizon Media, an advertising company in New York.

Read more here.

In recent weeks, sources tell Mediaite there have been meetings on the topic of Keith Olbermann and his future at the network.

Did Comcast–as many Countdown viewers seem to suspect–order Olbermann out? It appears that the end of the Olbermann era at MSNBC was not “ordered” by Comcast, nor was it a move to tone down the network’s politics.

Instead, sources inside the network say it came down to the more mundane world of office politics–Olbermann was a difficult employee, who clashed with bosses, colleagues and underlings alike, and with the Comcast-related departure of Jeff Zucker, and the rise of Maddow and O’Donnell, the landscape shifted, making an Olbermann exit suddenly seem well-timed.

MSNBC announced that O'Donnell, who had frequently filled in for Olbermann before starting his own 10 p.m. show, will take over Olbermann's time slot starting Monday. The Ed Show, with Ed Schultz, will move to 10 p.m. Cenk Uygur of the Web show The Young Turks will fill Schultz's vacated 6 p.m. time slot.
It's unclear what Olbermann's plans are now.

According to, The moves are simultaneous with new owner Comcast starting to show its hand over the broadcast network and cable NBCU after receiving FCC approval. "He's been very problematic," an NBCU source told Deadline about Comcast's attitude to Olbermann.

Officially, the Comcast takeover is next week. But word has been circulating for months now that the new owners have wanted to "tinker" with MSNBC and had many changes in store, including a right turn for the left-wing cable channel so that it represents both political points of view more evenly.

It is well known that both Comcast chief Brian Roberts and NBCU chief Steve Burke have donated heavily to the Republican party with Burke more recently donating money to a few Democrats as well as heavily to Republicans. Roberts was a co-chairman of the host committee at the 2000 Republican Convention while Burke raised at least $200,000 for George W Bush’s re-election campaign.

Paul Farhi at reports Olbermann did not announce any professional plans Friday night, though he would appear to be an attractive hire for CNN, whose new program at 8 p.m., "Parker/Spitzer," has been troubled by low ratings and reported problems between its anchors, former New York governor Eliot Spitzer and Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker.

CNN, however, has been loath to feature the kinds of fiery, partisan personalities that Fox and MSNBC have put on the air.

Farhi writes Olbermann has clashed with his employers many times in his television career and has hopped from network to network. He walked away as host of ESPN's "SportsCenter" in the late 1990s after five years to join the fledgling MSNBC as the host of a news program, but he tired of MSNBC's insistence that he focus on the Monica Lewinsky scandal each night.

Olbermann then left to join Fox Sports Net, where he lasted just more than two years. He was briefly employed by CNN before jumping back to MSNBC in 2003. The nearly eight years he spent at MSNBC were the longest he spent in one place in 32 years as a broadcaster.

Tom's Take:  Will KO show-up on CNN? Not anytime soon. KO probably has a non-compete which he will honor to collect the $14-million MSNBC still owes him for two years of his contract.  Most likely, some liberal website will stream a KO show, maybe a site like Media Matters 

The Saturday Aircheck

Joe O'Brien, WMCA December 21, 1960, click here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

CRTC: Review 'Money for Nothing' Ruling

Canada's Regulator urges broadcast council to reconsider ban on unedited Dire Straits song
According to a story at, the CRTC wants a second look into the recent decision to ban the unedited version of the Dire Straits song Money for Nothing from Canadian radio.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is urging the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) to review the decision made earlier this month by its Atlantic Regional Panel.

The panel deemed the Grammy-winning 1985 rock tune unfit for Canadian radio in its unedited version, after a listener of CHOZ-FM in St. John's complained about the use of the word "faggot" several times in the song's lyrics.

The broadcast regulator reported receiving more than 250 complaints from the public over the CBSC's decision.

In a letter sent on Friday, the CRTC also noted "that many of the letters it has received mistakenly have assumed that it was the commission, and not the CBSC, that determined that the version of the Dire Straits song containing the contested derogatory word was inappropriate for radio airplay.

"The volume of letters and perceived overlap of responsibilities between the commission and the CBSC has created uncertainty for the public and for radio stations requiring information on the continued appropriateness of playing that version of the song," CRTC secretary general Robert Morin said in the letter.

Along with forwarding the related correspondence to the broadcast council, the CRTC also recommends the group appoint a national panel to seek public comments on the issue and ultimately to reconsider the matter.
In its ruling, released Jan. 12, the broadcast council said the unedited version of Money for Nothing contravenes the human rights clauses of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' Code of Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code.

The group noted, however, that the song would be acceptable in an edited version.

The ruling sparked massive public disapproval, made headlines both nationally and abroad, and even sparked a few radio stations to play the banned version repeatedly in protest.

Why Hubbard Radio Deal Make Sense Now

From Doug McLeod, Radio Station Management

"Minnesota-based Hubbard Broadcasting is purchasing half of Bonneville’s radio markets in a deal that could indicate how smaller groups expand intelligently now that the economy is nudging its way back. Bonneville revealed this week that it is selling its radio properties in Chicago, St. Louis, Washington, DC, and Cincinnati to Hubbard for $505 million. Hubbard, which has owned KSTP (AM) in the Twin Cities (Arbitron market # 16) since 1923, has only two other radio properties, both also in that market. It has a full complement of TV stations.

Bonneville will retain its radio stations in Phoenix, Los Angeles, Seattle and Salt Lake City as well as KSL-TV there. Hubbard hasn’t owned radio stations outside the Twin Cities since it sold KOB (AM/FM), Albuquerque, to Citadel several years ago.

Why The Deal Makes Sense

Many industry eyeballs will be watching for details on this transaction, which is the first major radio deal of 2011.

Radio station trading has been at a virtual standstill for at least three years, as any starving broker can tell you. One big question, of course, has been when the ice will break, especially in large and major markets. The other key question has been: What will the multiples be? Radio & Television Business Report says that in this transaction it may be eight times broadcast cash flow, which is what most buyers and sellers are talking about these days.

Hubbard runs a high-class, very professional operation which has always been smart with its money. The President of another major market group told me: “Hubbard, like Bonneville, is an excellent broadcaster with strong ties to their community. Their attention to ‘localism’ including live, local talent is very good for radio and bodes well for its future. I hope this becomes a trend as opposed to the cookie cutter, cost efficient models that have been adopted by many of our country’s largest radio media companies.”
Hubbard wasn’t a player in the last big wave of radio consolidation because it was starting up a satellite TV business, which later sold to Direct TV in a deal valued at $1.6 billion. So there was plenty of cash for this deal. Hubbard is also a mature operation, which is reflected in the stations it’s buying. Several are either at or near the top of their market rankings. They’re all competitive. This was no pig-in-a-poke numbers grab.

A major reason why this deal makes sense is that Hubbard is buying proven assets all the way through. Reportedly, there are no significant changes planned for any of the stations. Bonneville’s top radio hands are going along with the deal, too. CEO Bruce Reese and COO Drew Horowitz and their staff will soon be drawing their paychecks from Hubbard Radio."
Read more here.

DOUG McLEOD has been a leader in radio station management, sales and as an on-air talent for over 30 years. His experience includes all levels of the radio station management and selling process-from product creation and street-level selling to strategic marketing and sales management to business ownership. Doug's new book "THE ZERO TURNOVER SALES FORCE: How To Maximize Revenue By Keeping Your Sales Force Intact" was published in hard cover by AMACOM, the publishing arm of The American Management Association, in April, 2010.

Letterman Offers Piers Morgan Advice

Critics: MTV's 'Skins' Too Hot

MTV's new hit show "Skins" is getting tons of attention for its vivid depiction of teen sex and drug use. The show premiered Monday night before three million viewers, but some critics say MTV has gone too far.

"It's a show about teenagers and it's created for teenagers and I think it goes pretty far," family therapist Terry Real said on "Good Morning America."

Real said the network made a big deal about airing the show late, at 10 p.m., but he thinks most teens are still watching. He is concerned that some teenagers believe this show is depicting reality.

"I think that it is terribly important that we let our kids know that this is in fact not the norm," he said.

Real has different concerns for boys than girls who are watching "Skins."

"The concern for the boys is that the idea here is very clearly that even the young boys 14, 15, 16 are up for sex anywhere, anytime with anyone," Real said. "I think that's a lot of pressure for our sons to have to deal with."

Read more here.

Also read here:

How Parents Should Handle "Skins" (

Radio Host Releases Racy Video Of OctoMom

Radio personality Tattoo says the video of him wearing a diaper and being whipped by octuplets' mom Nadya Suleman was just a joke, but he didn't put it on the Internet until he felt betrayed by her and financial guru Suze Orman, according to a story at by Lori Basheda and Lou Ponsi.

Suleman, mother of 14, was on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" last week with Orman for a financial makeover. On the show, Suleman gives credit to Orman for inspiring her to make some positive changes in her life and then goes on to say that one of those changes was holding a yard sale last fall to raise money for house payments.

"Orman lives in a gated community, she doesn't even know what a yard sale is," he said Thursday. "I organized that yard sale. That was my mastermind plan. (Suleman) gave everything to Suze Orman. You know how that made me feel? It was just terrible."

The radio personality, whose real name is David Gonzalez, will be on CNN Thursday night to talk about the video, which Suleman has yet to comment on.

Her attorney, however, Thursday afternoon released a statement saying the video was made as a joke.

“I personally had nothing to do with it and find it disgusting, unfunny, bizarre and just plain dumb," Jeff Czech writes in an email. "I believe Nadya was somewhat tricked into filming the video and I know for certain she no longer believes the video is worth a laugh and deeply regrets her actions.”

Tattoo said he came up with the idea for the video and pitched it to Suleman as a comedy skit, something you might see on "Saturday Night Live." It was shot at her home in La Habra the day before the September yard sale, he said. In it, he wears a diaper and a bonnet and drinks from a baby bottle, while Suleman chases him around spanking him with a whip.

"We were gonna try to make some money off of this," he said. After it was made, he said that Suleman asked him to shelve it.

"But when I seen her on 'Oprah' on Friday – no, man," he said.

On the show, Suleman, who is sitting next to Orman, says Orman told her to go to church. She does just that, winds up praying with a pastor, and then, she tells Winfrey, good things started happening. When Winfrey asks what kind of good things, Suleman says she held a garage sale the next week, earning $1,500 for her family. She does not mention Tattoo.

Atlantic Broadcasting Radio Stations On The Block

A media brokerage firm was hired Thursday to sell the five radio stations owned by Atlantic Broadcasting after the company filed for bankruptcy last month, the company said. The move was approved Thursday by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Camden, according to a story by Elaine Rose at

Media Services Group, with 10 locations around the country and specializing in the sale of radio and television stations, said it will put the stations on the market immediately.

"I'm expecting a lot of interest in the stations. They're good stations," said managing director George Reed of the Jacksonville, Fla., office, who will broker the deal along with R. Thomas McKinley of the New York office. "It's a very desirable market."

The company will talk to interested buyers of the five radio stations and determine who is most interested in operating them and is willing to pay the most for it, Reed said.

There are five radio stations in the group: WTKU-FM 98.3, playing classic hits, classic rock station WMGM-FM 103.7, Spanish station WBSS-AM 1490, News-talk station WOND-Am 1400 and Top 40 station WWAC-FM 102.7.

All the stations, with the exception of WWAC, were formerly owned by Howard Green, who died in 2002.

Access.1 bought the stations after Green's death, and sold them to Atlantic Broadcasting, which was formed in May 2008.

Read more here.

NYC Newscasts Turning To Jokes

New York City TV news used to thrive on getting ratings from stories like how dry-cleaning will kill you. Now, it's turning to jokes.

This trend is so strong that it's time for the two local 10 p.m. newscasts to get serious and cut back to half-hour reports, according to a story by Richard Huff at


Last week, WNYW/Ch. 5 added a comic to its 10 p.m. newscast. This is on a production that has already upended its format to add lame interviews to try to look like Fox News Channel.

And since WPIX/Ch. 11 relaunched its 10 p.m. report last fall, there are some nights when much of what gets on the air is some kind of stunt.

That suggests there's way too much extra time in the newscasts during the late hours, and it's time to consider cutting back.

Last week, on the night of the second major snowstorm to hit the city this winter, Ch. 5 aired a segment from comedian Jessie Cantrell that poked fun at Mayor Bloomberg's press conference.

Previously, Ch. 5 aired a skit with Cantrell showing viewers how to have fun in the snow. It included her doing snow angels and then visiting a cleaner.

"How do you get dog urine out of a coat?" she asked the cleaner, who smelled the coat and asked how it happened.

"Snow angels," Cantrell said.

Read more here.

Warner Music Plan: Buy or Be Bought

Warner Music Group, one of the four major record companies, has hired the investment bank Goldman Sachs to seek out potential buyers for the company, a process that will play out while Warner continues to explore buying the beleaguered British music giant EMI, according to

The decision to hire Goldman Sachs came after several suitors, including the buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, approached Warner Music’s management in recent months about buying the company, according to an executive briefed on the matter who spoke only anonymously.

Instead of negotiating solely with K.K.R., the company’s management decided to begin a formal sale process by hiring Goldman, which has recently begun making pitches to financial investors and media companies about buying Warner.

One possible outcome of the auction is for Warner to sell not the entire company but only Warner/Chappell, its prized publishing arm, said a person with direct knowledge of the process.

Meanwhile, a separate set of bankers within Goldman has been working on a potential acquisition of EMI by Warner. Goldman has reached out to Citigroup, which owns a large amount of EMI’s debt and could soon control the company if it fails to meet its payments, according to executives involved in the process, who would speak of the confidential negotiations only anonymously.

Read more here.

Also read here:

Court Convicts Warner Head, Ex-Vivendi Boss (ap/

Strata Study Shows Uptick For TV, Radio

Decrease in Digital

Optimism abounds in 2011, with television leading the charge according to the Strata quarterly survey of major advertising firms.

STRATA, a leading media buying and selling software provider, found that for the first time since the survey began in 2008, over half of the respondents expressed an increase in business. The survey, which follows advertising trends from leading agencies across the country, also discovered that digital advertising demand has actually decreased, with mobile advertising not yet living up to industry hype.

Over the past three years, there has been a steady uptick in the number of advertising agencies experiencing an increase in business, improving from a low of 22.5% in 2008 to 51% in this poll. Additionally, nearly one quarter of advertisers surveyed said their customers are increasing their budgets from last year, which is a 46% increase from the first quarter of 2010. Optimism about the new year is high, as nearly 35% expect the economy and their business to return to a strong growth period by late 2011, and 17% feeling they are already there.

As the economy improves, advertising agencies remain focused on television as their medium of choice.

When having to classify the advertising avenue that agency clients are most focused on, the STRATA survey found that TV remains at the top spot at 44% (up 24% from last quarter), followed by digital at 21.1% and a surprise rebirth of radio at 15.6% (an increase of 75% from the third quarter). After witnessing a steady growth over the past two years, digital advertising demand has decreased for the first time between quarters, from 26% in Q3 to 21.1% in Q4.

Agencies expressed the predominant obstacle with digital advertising is the lack of channel effectiveness. Nonetheless, within digital advertising, social media continues to be a hot medium of advertising: 79% of agencies are looking to use Facebook as the dominant social media platform in their clients’ campaigns, with Twitter second at 46%.

Read more here.

List Of Federal Budget Cuts Unveiled

Public broadcasting is included

Republican lawmakers have proposed budget cuts they say could save $2.5 trillion over the next decade. One agency they want to eliminate is the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

According to a story at, The GOP bill would immediately freeze non-security spending at 2008 levels, then cut the budget back to what it was five years ago.

That means cutting the federal workforce by 15 percent, eliminating grants for high-speed rail projects and ending subsidies for the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities.
It also would erase all federal dollars for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. NPR and its member stations get a portion of their budgets from that entity

Republican Congressman John Campbell of Irvine, CA says he listens to NPR as it’s carved out a popular niche for itself on the radio dial. "I think they can and should continue that niche without government subsidy."

The GOP plan eliminates grants for high-speed rail, Amtrak subsidies and funding for beach replenishment. It cuts more than a billion dollars from the U.S. Agency for International Development, but nothing from the Pentagon’s budget.

Read more here.

Starbucks: Pay By Phone

Expands payment system by mobile phone nationwide

The mobile payment system Starbucks has been testing in a few stores in Seattle, New York and Silicon Valley is going national, according to Brier Dudler at

Starbucks is announcing it has expanded the "pay by phone" program to 6,800 of its stores, plus more than 1,000 outlets inside Target stores. It began testing the system at a few stores in September 2009.

To use the system, Starbucks cardholders load an application onto their iPhone or BlackBerry smartphones that displays a bar code scanned at the register to pay for drinks. Users can also manage Starbucks accounts and find nearby stores with the application.

With the launch, Starbucks claims to be operating the largest mobile payment program in the country, giving millions of cardholders a fast way to pay for their jolt and a muffin.

Read more here.

Restaurants Reach Out With Social Media

Restaurants and bars thrive on repeat business, but customers increasingly expect more than just good service, food and drinks. They want to be engaged and entertained, and some food establishments are turning to location-based social media to help keep customers happy and loyal.
According to a story by Elizabeth Olson at, Buffalo Wild Wings, a national restaurant chain that offers casual dining and televised sports, is embarking on a campaign, called “Home Court Advantage,” to involve customers beyond the smartphone “check-in” they use to note their arrival.

The chain, which has 730 locations around the country, is known for its wing-eating contests and trivia challenges. Beginning this month, it is working with Scvngr, a location-based social media network, to introduce contests and rewards for its customers. Its main target is tech-savvy basketball fans, an important demographic for the chain.

Like the social media companies Gowalla, Foursquare and Loopt, Scvngr is largely reaching the people in their 20s and 30s who frequently use their mobile phones to flag their presence at a specific spot, and to notify friends of their location.

While millions of people have signed onto such sites, it is estimated that just 4 percent of smartphone users in the United States have tried these services, with a mere 1 percent using them more than once a week, according to the most recent Forrester Research survey. Most users are men, however, and some 70 percent are between 19 and 35 — and that is the ideal profile of a Buffalo Wild Wings customer.

“We are looking for social engagement,” said Jeremy Burke, brand manager for Buffalo Wild Wings. “We want them to be able to tell others what they liked — a beer, a garlic flavor. Our goal is to build frequency.”

Read more here.

Fox Bans This Super Bowl Ad

Ashley Madison commercial That was rejected from the Superbowl. Ashley Madison is the premier dating site for people looking for relationship outside their relationship.

The ad features adult film star Savanna Sampson, who walks into a corporate boardroom and announces that her executive husband has been cheating on her. Cue a montage of everybody hooking up with everybody.

Also read here.

Jesus Hates Obama site says Super Bowl ad is rejected (

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Poll: Fox 2nd Most Trusted, Most Distrusted

Public Policy Polling Second Annual TV News Trust Poll
PPP's annual look at the public's trust in various TV news outlets finds that Fox News' credibility is on the decline, that the traditional networks are seeing an up tick in their numbers, and that PBS is at the top of the heap.

Here's how they stack up from highest net trust to worst:

  • A year ago a plurality of Americans said they trusted Fox News. Now a plurality of them don't. Conservatives haven't moved all that much- 75% said they trusted it last year and 72% still do this time around. But moderates and liberals have both had a strong increase in their level of distrust for the network- a 12 point gain from 48% to 60% for moderates and a 16 point gain from 66% to 82% for liberals. Voters between left and center tend to be more trusting of the media across the board, which is why a fair number of them were still rating Fox favorably even a year ago at this time. But it looks like with a lot of those folks it has finally crossed the line to being too political to trust.
  • All three of the traditional major networks- NBC, CBS, and ABC- have seen an increase in their trust levels over the last year. NBC continues to be the most trusted of the trio, breaking even this year at 41% who trust it and 41% who don't. It may be MSNBC's liberal tilt that vaults its parent network to the top overall. Conservatives distrust all three of the networks at pretty similar levels- 66% for ABC and NBC, 67% for CBS. But liberals range from 52% who trust ABC to 61% who trust CBS all the way up to 67% who trust NBC. It's interesting to see that faith in these long standing organizations is on the rise but it may be that in a new media world where there's so much more information available than there's ever been before folks are looking to places with a proven track record of getting it right.
  • Democrats trust everything but Fox. Republicans don't trust anything but Fox.
Read more here.

Howard Stern Calls Jay Leno 'Insane' And 'A Crook'

'Tonight Show' host refuses to comment

Howard Stern may have accused Jay Leno of stealing material -- again -- but the host of "The Tonight Show" is not rising to the occasion.

Leno is not commenting, his rep told the Daily News, after the radio star slammed him Tuesday on "Piers Morgan Tonight."

"Jay is insane and Jay is a crook," Stern told Morgan. "He steals a tremendous amount of material. He is not fit to scrub Dave Letterman's feet."

The 57-year-old radio star -- who has accused Leno of stealing jokes from him in the past -- claimed that that the U.S. was "filled with morons" and that those who watch Leno "must be in a coma."

A source close to Leno told the Daily News that Stern was using the 60-year-old host to keep himself "relevant."

"It is kind of interesting that the only time Howard Stern gets headlines these days is when he attacks Leno and Oprah," the source said.

The source added that Stern is trying to combat the fact that even when he appears on "The Late Show with David Letterman," Leno beats Letterman in the ratings.

Read more here.

Mariners To Use Committee To Fill Niehaus' Spot

At least five announcers will rotate after Hall of Famer's passing

The Seattle Mariners have made a decision on how best to replace Hall of Fame broadcaster Dave Niehaus, with the answer being to use a group of familiar personalities to fill the void created by the passing of the franchise's longtime voice.

Randy Adamack, the Mariners' vice president of communications, confirmed Wednesday that the club will employ at least five announcers with prior experience in the booth on a rotating basis to work primarily with Rick Rizzs on radio broadcasts for the upcoming season.

Rizzs, who worked alongside Niehaus for 25 years, will be the main play-by-play man on radio. His partners will be Ron Fairly, Ken Levine, Ken Wilson, Dave Valle and Dan Wilson, with more names possibly being added to that list, Adamack said.

Dave Sims and Mike Blowers, who have been part of the announcing crew since 2007, will handle most of the television duties.

Read more here.

Is "Crosshairs" Now Hate Speech?

With the debate over political rhetoric dominating the post-Tucson media conversation, some journalists have begun pausing before reaching for violent clich├ęs that have long been common in political coverage.

According to Michael Calderon at The Cutline blog at, CNN host John King took a moment on air Tuesday night to acknowledge that a guest had just used the term "in the cross hairs" during a discussion about the Chicago mayoral race. "We're trying, we're trying to get away from that language," King told viewers.

The Washington Examiner's Byron York took issue with King's statement and pointed out on Wednesday that CNN has used battle-ready terms such as "in the cross hairs" numerous times in the past.

King called attention to using "cross hairs" by making that statement on air. There's no CNN policy to avoid using the word, but King apparently wants to try doing so on his show. And King's not the only political journalist who's reluctant to talk of politicians being "in the cross hairs" since the Tucson rampage -- others are just avoiding such phrases rather than making statements about it.
"Just for the record, CNN anchors, reporters and guests did absolutely nothing wrong with their use of the word in the last month and before," York wrote. "It would be impossible, at least for any reasonable person, to argue that the network's use of 'cross hairs' in any of the various contexts it was used, was an incitement to violence by anyone, anywhere. But by announcing that 'we're trying to get away' from 'cross hairs' and other allegedly incendiary language, CNN is aligning itself with those who blame 'rhetoric' for the killings."

Read more here.

Ron Franklin Sues ESPN For Wrongful Termination

The story of ESPN's firing of Ron Franklin looks like it will continue. reports, Franklin has filed a lawsuit against ESPN for wrongful termination. He confirmed that in an interview with Game On! from his home city of Austin, Texas.

Franklin, who worked for ESPN for 25 years, declined to comment on how much he's seeking in damages or details of the lawsuit.

ESPN fired the veteran college football and basketball announcer after he allegedly called sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards "sweet baby" and "a--hole" during an argument during bowl game preparation. ESPN yanked him from coverage of the Fiesta Bowl that he was supposed to work with Edwards.

Franklin's attorney, Tom Nesbitt, sent this written statement to Game On!: "This case is about Ron Franklin's contracts with ABC and ESPN. We hope that ABC and ESPN will honor their commitments to Ron Franklin. If they choose to continue breaching their contracts, this case will be tried in a courtroom in Austin, Texas, not the media."

"We are confident that the action we took was appropriate," ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys said in an e-mail.

Read more here.

Top Album = Low Sales

In the latest sign of waning consumer demand for recorded music, the Billboard 200 album-sales chart just registered a dubious distinction: The No. 1 position was held by an album that sold fewer CDs and downloads than any predecessor since at least 1991, when accurate weekly tallies first became available.

According to Ethan Smith at, the 44,000 units sold by the band Cake's sixth album, "Showroom of Compassion," marked the second week in a row that the No. 1 album notched a new low-water mark. Last week's chart was dominated by Taylor Swift's "Speak Now," which sold just 52,000 copies according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The lackluster performance by the Cake album was doubly notable: Ms. Swift's album had been on the charts for nearly three months by the time it set its record. The Cake album, by contrast, was new in stores last week, making its performance in the chart released Wednesday the worst-ever No. 1 debut. As with movies and DVDs, many if not most music albums enjoy their strongest sales their first week out, then trail off quickly.

The first three months of the year are typically slow for the music industry, following a surge of releases in November and December to capitalize on holiday sales. The previous record-low was set in 2007, by the soundtrack to the movie "Dreamgirls," which sold 60,000 copies during a week in mid-January.

The declining numbers at the top of the chart reflect a broad downturn in recorded-music sales. Last year U.S. consumers bought 326.2 million music albums on CD or digital download, the lowest tally since SoundScan started releasing the numbers in 1993, and 58% below the peak in 2000.

Read more here.

MTV's 'Skins': Child Porn?

A Racy Show With Teenagers Steps Back From a Boundary

MTV executives have a new hit drama on their hands, featuring the sexual and drug-fueled exploits of misfit teenagers. They also have something else — a fear that coming episodes of the show may break the law.

According to a story, executives at the cable channel became concerned that some scenes from the provocative new show “Skins” may violate federal child pornography statutes.

The executives ordered the producers to make changes to tone down some of the most explicit content.

They are particularly concerned about the third episode of the series, which is to be broadcast Jan. 31. In an early version, a naked 17-year-old actor is shown from behind as he runs down a street. The actor, Jesse Carere, plays Chris, a high school student whose erection — assisted by erectile dysfunction pills — is a punch line throughout the episode.

The planned changes indicate that MTV, which has been pushing the envelope for decades, may be concerned that it pushed too far this time.

“Skins” is a calculated risk by MTV which is eager to get into the scripted programming business. The channel, a unit of Viacom, has long tested American standards for sexuality and obscenity on television with shows like “The Real World” and “Jersey Shore.”

Those reality shows have generally involved adults, but for “Skins,” the producers purposefully cast actors ages 15 to 19, most of whom had never acted before.

MTV’s president and other executives declined interview requests on Wednesday. An MTV spokeswoman, Jeannie Kedas, insisted that the future episodes of “Skins” were still works in progress. She would not confirm that MTV executives were fearful of running afoul of child pornography laws.
Read more here.

NPR Facebook Page: 1.4 Million Fans Can’t Be Wrong

“They swear like sailors, but boy, they’re smart.”

According to a posting at, that’s how NPR strategist Andy Carvin described the 1.4 million fans who comment and share stories through NPR’s Facebook page. The page — originally created by an NPR enthusiast from the UK — is one of the more popular media outlets on Facebook.

Carvin talked about NPR’s approach to Facebook last night as part of an ONA-sponsored media event at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto.

“We have better comments on Facebook than on our own site,” Carvin said, in response to an audience question about whether NPR was reluctant to divert audience engagement from its own homepage to an outside site.

In part, Carvin said, that’s because comments on tend to be highly political and polarized, and because comments sections are also constantly beset by spammers. For many news stories — particularly ones where reporters are filing from abroad — the author of the story isn’t able to moderate the comment thread and, so, to help guide conversation and build community. NPR’s blogs, on the other hand, where this moderation happens, tend to be more conversational and interactive.

But Carvin also emphasized the importance of audience expectations. “They still see our site as mainly dedicated to consuming news,” he said. Facebook, on the other hand, is a web venue in which people are used to chatting with their family and friends.
Read more here.

Texas Reaches 20-year Deal with ESPN

The University of Texas on Wednesday announced a 20-year, $300 million deal with ESPN for a 24-hour television network that will broadcast Longhorn sports and other content.

According to, the deal includes Texas' licensing and marketing partner IMG College, with more than 80 percent of revenue set to go to the university.

The network contract will not replace existing deals between the Big 12 and ESPN-ABC and Fox. The network has not yet been named.

"We want to define what it means to be 'the' public university," Texas President William Powers said. "The challenge is to create new sources of revenue to support our mission."

ESPN will handle distribution in Texas and other states, and will own the Austin-based network, which will broadcast at least 200 Texas sporting events, including at least one football game each season and multiple replays from other networks, and the annual spring football scrimmage.

It will also include a minimum of eight basketball games and replays of games broadcast on other networks. Women's basketball, baseball, volleyball, soccer and other sports also would be broadcast.

Read more here.

Also read here:

Opinion From Dave Kohl
Sorry, but the news on Wednesday about ESPN funding approximately $300 million dollars toward a University of Texas TV Network is disturbing on several levels, both from a media and sports fan position.  Click here.

Today Show Grills Beck On 'Angry' Rhetoric

During a Today Show appearance Wednesday morning to promote his latest book, Glenn Beck Beck and Meredit Viera had a slightly testy exchange when she tried to corner him about his contribution to angry political speech and insisted on quoting past comments.

Beck also shared the truth about his darkest moments.

Political Rhetoric Tops Shooting Coverage

According to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, the aftermath of the January 8 shooting spree in Tucson dominated the American news media last week in a way events rarely do: the tragedy registered as the third-biggest story in a single week since PEJ began tracking coverage in January 2007.

From January10-16, the rampage that killed six and badly wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords accounted for 57% of the news coverage studied by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. In the past four years, only two stories—both about the 2008 election—generated more attention. The first was the nomination of Barack Obama and John McCain’s surprise selection of running mate Sarah Palin (69% from August 25-September 1). The second was the following week, September 1-7, when the Republicans held their national convention (58%).

Aside from the sheer volume of media attention, what have the traumatic events in Tucson meant, as transmitted in the media narrative? This special report, combining PEJ’s weekly News Coverage Index with social media analysis technology from Crimson Hexagon, finds several key elements emerging.

Read more here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Surprise: Bonneville To Sell 17 Stations

Washington Post photos
Hubbard pays $505 million for the Bonneville clusters in Chicago, D.C., St. Louis and Cincinnati

Utah-based Deseret Management Corporation has entered into an agreement to sell 17 of its Bonneville International radio stations in four cities across the country.

DMC, a for-profit arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will sell stations in St. Louis, Chicago, Cincinnati and Washington, D.C., to Hubbard Broadcasting Inc. Under terms of the purchase agreement, the Minneapolis-based company will acquire the stations for $505 million.

According to a story by Dennis Romboy at Deseret News, the sale is expected to be finalized in April or May pending FCC and anti-trust approval. Neither company expects any snags.

“Bonneville has built all its media properties into profitable, well-managed media outlets in lucrative markets, which has made them attractive to many potential buyers through the years,” said Mark Willes, DMC president and CEO.

As part of the transaction, Bruce Reese, Bonneville president and CEO, and Drew Horowitz, Bonneville chief operating officer, will move to Hubbard Broadcasting.

DMC will retain its stations in Salt Lake City, which include KSL Newsradio (102.7 FM and 1160 AM), KSFI (FM 100) and KRSP (Arrow 103.5). It will also retain its seven Bonneville stations in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Seattle with their managers and staff.

Ginny Morris, who will become the chairwoman of the newly created Hubbard Radio LLC, called it an exciting opportunity for the company.

"We have long admired the good work, reputation and leadership of Bonneville International and its management team and feel honored to welcome these great stations into the Hubbard family of companies," she said.

"The radio business seems to be steady and strong and we don't see that changing in the future."
Willes said Hubbard Broadcasting is a well-respected business that represents many of the same values Bonneville embraces.

"We felt Hubbard’s long-term hold strategy was the right fit for these stations,” he said.
Family-owned Hubbard operates 12 television and four radio stations in Minnesota, New York and New Mexico. As result of the sale, Hubbard Radio will add 547 employees, bringing its full- and part-time workforce to 701.

"This is a big bite for us, but it's a business we know well," Morris said.

Hubbard approached DMC about buying the stations last August and negotiations proceeded fairly quickly. Willes said the sale price was higher than DMC expected.

"It was a strong price for us and a doable price for Hubbard because of the earning potential," he said. "The stations we're selling are very profitable."

Stations included in the sale are: WARH, WIL, WXOS (St. Louis); WDRV, WILV, WTMX, WWDV (Chicago); WTOP, WFED, WWWT, WTLP, WBHQ, WWFD (Washington, D.C.); WKRQ, WREW, WUBE, WYGY (Cincinnati). That stations comprise a variety of formats including music, news and sports.

Only a small amount of the sale proceeds will go to DMC because the value of the stations lie in their broadcast licenses, which are held by the LDS Church, Willes said. "Most of the funds from this go to the church."

Read more here.

Also read here:

Read the Bonneville press release here.
Read the Hubbard press release here.

Howard Stern On 'Piers Morgan Tonight'

Dr. Laura: Calling Me A Racist Is ‘Absurd’

She says she moved to satellite radio for ‘freedom of speech without being assassinated’

Glenn Beck Slams Philly

Talk-radio host Glenn Beck took a shot at Philadelphia on the air Tuesday, calling the area around Independence Hall "the killing streets" and proclaiming that the city was "not a place you want to be."

The remarks irked city officials. Mayor Nutter's spokesman told The Inquirer that Beck was suffering from a case of "verb-arrhea." Philadelphia Police Lt. Ray Evers called Beck "misinformed." The historic district, Evers said, "is actually one of the safest parts of the city, if not the country, with the number of law enforcement. Who listens to him, anyway?"

Beck's crime talk, the day after he lost his Philadelphia radio station, seemed to come out of nowhere. He was chatting on his syndicated radio program with his executive producer, Steve "Stu" Burguiere, about police layoffs in Camden, and the topic of conversation veered across the Delaware.

When Burguiere disagreed with Beck's assessment of crime in Center City, Beck challenged him to wear a hidden camera and walk downtown at "6, 7 o'clock at night." Burguiere said he had done that many times, since he lives in Bucks County.

When Beck pressed Burguiere, the producer conceded that there were dodgy areas north and south of Center City, but he defended the downtown.

"Don't listen to Stu," Beck said. "Philadelphia sucks."  Burguiere laughed heartily.

The program was not heard over the air in Philadelphia. Beck's last Philadelphia show aired Monday on WPHT-AM (1210), which dropped his show, as well as that of Sean Hannity, as it said it was moving toward a local lineup.

Ed Palladino, WPHT's program director, said he did not think Beck's ad hominem about Philadelphia was related to his being dropped. Beck now has no radio outlet here.

Read more here.

WGN-AM Brings Bill White To Chicago

Bill White, operations director of WBT-AM and FM and WLNK-FM in Charlotte N.C., has been named the new program director at Chicago's WGN-AM 720, effective Valentine's Day, according to a story at Phil Rosenthal's Tower Tciker blog at

The job at Chicago Tribune parent Tribune Co.'s radio station has been officially vacant since the exit of Kevin Metheny in November with Tom Langmyer, WGN-AM's vice president and general manager, taking on the programming responsibilities since then.

Metheny's 23 months in the job will be remembered as much for how the brusqueness with which he made moves rankled many long-time WGN-AM listeners as for the moves themselves.

"Bill brings extensive experience and a solid track record of success in programming live and local heritage stations like WGN Radio,” Langmyer said in announcing the hire. “He understands the personal bond that listeners have with WGN and will use his creativity, passion and experience to help make that connection stronger than ever.”

Born in Oak Park, White joined Charlotte's WBT in 2001 as program director of the 50,000-watt heritage news-and-talk station, eventually coming to oversee programming and news for all three stations in Greater Media’s Charlotte radio group.

White previously was program director at KDKA-AM Pittsburgh, KMBZ-AM Kansas City, Mo., WTVN-AM Columbus, Ohio, and WTIC-AM in Hartford, Conn.

“WGN has influenced me throughout my career and I’m honored to become a part of this important Chicago institution,” White said in the announcement.

Read more here.

Radio: Country Format In New York?

Well, actually Long Island

Long Island station WKJI (96.1 FM) will be changing format to country music very soon. So folks are saying, “yay country music returns to the Big Apple.” Well, not really. This is not a New York City radio station. It’s Long Island.

There was a time, however, when country radio in New York City was a big deal. Vince Santarelli at, takes a look back on country radio in the city. It really used to be here and it really was big.

Country radio in New York City traces its roots all the way back to September 15, 1965. It was on this date, at exactly 6:00 AM, the old WJRZ (970 AM) changed its format and brought the sound of Nashville to the Big Apple. Prior to that, country music could be found in dribs and drabs on outlets all around the market, but WJRZ was the first fulltime country station.

Read more here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

FCC Gives Okay To Comcast-NBC Deal

Many conditions part of approval

The Federal Communications Commission approved Comcast Corp.'s deal to acquire control of NBC Universal from General Electric Co. on Tuesday, setting the stage for the cable giant to complete its acquisition shortly.

According to Amy Schatz at, the Justice Department is expected to also approve the deal as early as Tuesday with conditions aimed at preventing the cable giant from stifling competition in the pay-television and online video markets.

FCC commissioners approved the deal Tuesday on a 4-1 vote, with Democratic FCC Commissioner Michael Copps voting against the deal. Mr. Copps is a vocal opponent of increased media consolidation and he maintained the Comcast-NBC combination wasn't in the public's best interest.

The FCC imposed a variety of conditions on the deal designed to prevent Comcast from denying NBC programming and Comcast regional sports networks from its pay-TV and online competitors. The nation's largest cable company will be required to set aside a number of channels for independent programmers and agreed to keep NBC network programming on free over-the-air TV stations.

Comcast is also barred from favoring its own online programming over competitors and the company agreed to abide by the FCC's new "net neutrality" rules -- which would bar the company from deliberately blocking websites or slowing broadband traffic -- for seven years. The cable giant will be required to live under the net neutrality rules even if a federal appeals court ultimately throws them out, which is a possibility.

Many of the conditions that are part of the FCC's approval came from voluntary concessions Comcast has made over the past few months in hopes of getting the deal approved.

The company agreed to air more children's programming, limit interactive advertisements for children and offer stand-alone Internet access for $49.95 a month. It promised to adopt a hands-off approach to the NBC News division.

Read more here.

Howard Stern Guests Tuesday With Piers Morgan

"My hair is 100% real."

Howard Stern is Piers Morgan's guest on the second ever show tonight, and the King of all Media was candid and controversial for the full interview.

In this web clip, Stern talks about getting older – and the hair. "The hair is real, and I don't color it," he said. But...

The conversation moved from politics to broadcasting, from comedy to more serious topics. Stern talked about his parents and his wife, and that brand-new, nine-figure contract. Check out the full interview tonight at 9pmET/PT.

Regis Retires

Stepping Down From 'LIVE! With Regis and Kelly'

Veteran broadcaster Regis Philbin announced today that he will be retiring from the weekday talk show "LIVE! with Regis and Kelly" after nearly 25 years. reports Philbin broke the news this morning at the top of his show. He confirmed that though he's departing, the "LIVE" franchise will continue. The Disney-ABC Television Group plans to name a new personality to join Kelly Ripa, who has co-hosted the show for nearly ten years.

Philbin first got his own TV show in 1961, and has appeared on dozens of programs since, including a short lived stint as host of “The Tonight Show” (then  called the “Westinghouse Tonight Show from Hollywood”) in 1964.

Philbin gained his first national exposure in 1967 as Joey Bishop's sidekick on The Joey Bishop Show on television (1967–1969). In a Johnny Carson-Ed McMahon vein, Bishop would playfully tease Philbin and Philbin would take the barbs in stride.

Philbin, however, got his feelings wounded when he learned from the network grapevine that ABC executives were dissatisfied with his work. When The Joey Bishop Show was canceled, Bishop walked off the show on the air unannounced, leaving Philbin to successfully carry the show on his own.

Philbin has been plagued in recent years by health issues.  On March 12, 2007, during an episode of Live with Regis and Kelly, Philbin announced that he would undergo triple bypass surgery later that week, as he had experienced chest pains and shortness of breath the previous two weeks and doctors found plaque in his arteries. He said, "Darn it, I don't want to do it.

Nobody wants to do it, I guess. But they tell me. And I had a second opinion, I did all those things [tests for heart disease], and so they're [the doctors] are all in agreement that it should be the bypass. And so that's what I'm going to do." In addition, Philbin talked with David Letterman, for whom Philbin substituted for on the Late Show with David Letterman during Letterman's own quintuple bypass surgery. Philbin's heart surgery at Weill Cornell Medical Center on March 14 was successful and he returned to the show on April 26. He previously had an angioplasty in 1993.

On November 24, 2009, it was announced that Philbin intended to take some time off from Live with Regis and Kelly to undergo hip-replacement surgery. "I'm allowed to announce I'm going into hip surgery. I'm going to have my hip replaced. I've been limping around here. It's really painful," he said on Live, which was broadcasting from Las Vegas that week. The surgery was performed on December 1. Philbin was expected to take four to six weeks off to recover. It was announced that Regis would return on Monday, January 4, 2010 to his regular hosting duties to kick off the new year.

On May 14, 2010, it was announced that Philbin would undergo surgery to have a blood clot removed from his calf. He returned the next day.

The Social Side Of The Internet

The internet is now deeply embedded in group and organizational life in America. A new national survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project has found that 75% of all American adults are active in some kind of voluntary group or organization and internet users are more likely than others to be active: 80% of internet users participate in groups, compared with 56% of non-internet users. And social media users are even more likely to be active: 82% of social network users and 85% of Twitter users are group participants.

The overall impact of the internet on group activities and accomplishments.

In this survey, Pew Internet asked about 27 different kinds of groups and found great diversity in group membership and participation using traditional and new technologies. It becomes clear as people are asked about their activities that their use of the internet is having a wide-ranging impact on their engagement with civic, social, and religious groups. Asked to assess the overall impact of the internet on group activities:
  • 68% of all Americans (internet users and non-users alike) said the internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to communicate with members. Some 75% of internet users said that.
  • 62% of all Americans said the internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to draw attention to an issue. Some 68% of internet users said that.
  • 60% of all Americans said the internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to connect with other groups. Some 67% of internet users said that.
  • 59% of all Americans said the internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to impact society at large. Some 64% of internet users said that.
  • 59% of all Americans said the internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to organize activities. Some 65% of internet users said that.
  • 52% of all Americans said the internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to raise money. Some 55% of internet users said that.
  • 51% of all Americans said the internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to recruit new members. Some 55% of internet users said that.
  • 49% of all Americans said the internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to impact local communities. Some 52% of internet users said that.
  • 35% of all Americans said the internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to find people to take leadership roles. Some 35% of internet users said that.

CBS News: Patch Profile

AOL's Patch the hyperlocal effort is also picking up where ailing print newspapers are leaving off, said Sachem, N.Y.,  Patch editor Chris Vaccaro during CBS Sunday Morning News' profile.

Trib Total Media Launching SportsTalk Radio

Beginning today, Pittsburgh sports fans will have a new way to get information on their favorite professional, college and high school teams.

Trib Total Media is launching SportsTalk on Trib Live Radio on its website, Programming will be live 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, with content looping 24 hours a day.

"Five years from now, Internet radio will be the predominant leader in radio," said Jennifer Bertetto, Trib Total Media vice president and chief operating officer.

From 9 a.m. to noon, hosts are Chris Mack and former Penguins player Rick Tocchet. From noon to 1 p.m., John Steigerwald will be talking all things sports. From 1 to 5 p.m., Ken Laird, former Steelers player Deshea Townsend and former Pitt basketball player Julius Page are hosts.

Steigerwald said his show will be "sports talk for regular human beings."

Trib Total Media is partners with several sports teams, including the Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and Duquesne.

A fully-equipped studio has been built on the sixth floor of the D.L. Clark building on the North Side, home to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Bertetto said while the online radio program is launching with sports, future programs could be planned. The goal is to eventually expand to 24 hours of live material, Bertetto said.

Read more here.

Palin Talks To Hannity

"They're not going to shut me up."

Also read here:

The Chicken, The Egg, The Media and Sarah Palin  (Nate Silver blog,

CNN's Cry For Help

Larry King, even at his best, would never have been able to do what Piers Morgan did Monday night, according to John Timpane at

Morgan is CNN's replacement in King's longtime, prime-time slot at 9 p.m. weeknights, with the show entitled "Piers Morgan Tonight." The very venerable King has retired after 24 1/2 years. Thanks in part to the tired King franchise, CNN, this country's first 24/7 news cabler, is losing badly in prime time, getting trounced by righty Fox and lefty MSNBC.

Morgan, an English tabloid journalist, game-show judge, and TV host, is in many ways a cry for help. CNN is clearly hoping Morgan, famed for being edgy, gossipy, and rule-busting, will attract eyeballs. The question is whether the down-the-middle channel can hang on for the ride.

The first-ever guest on Morgan's show Monday night was Oprah Winfrey. It's called swinging for the fences.

In the prerecorded (and clearly edited) interview we saw two famed interviewers go at it, both with a smile.

Winfrey, crazily over-made-up, tried at every turn to assert control and furnish O boilerplate where Morgan wanted revelation and dish. (Her answer to his first question, for example, made sure to plug her just-fledged cable channel, OWN.) And many of her answers were of the "I am very clear that my life, my purpose, is bigger than myself" variety. Pablum. Drone. Bilge.

King probably would have let it stand. Hardly famed for his incisive follow-up questions, he was the Old Reliable Softballer for the entertainment industry, the go-to guy for anyone with a new book, CD, show, or movie.

Morgan won't be like that. He is high-energy, enthusiastic, effusive, playful, fascinated. During answers, he purses his small mouth, listening. He has a mischievous I-know-you-won't-like-this smile when he probes.

Even his edgiest queries come in a manner that blunts any impression of meanness or nastiness. He uses his explosive laugh to excellent advantage; somehow it never sounds forced, even though he tends to laugh loudest when his guest resists the most.

And he did ask follow-ups, always with good cheer. But all of them - and here is where Winfrey could not have hoped to escape - were designed to play up what she was refusing to answer. All in good fun, of course.

While you can't say Morgan pried any big revelations out of Oprah, you can definitely say he "won" the encounter (if it were even a contest in the first place). That's because, after a first segment that was clearly a draw, he got Oprah to banter and to leave, for brief moments, her perpetual scriptedness.

Read more here.