Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Saturday Aircheck

A terrific brief history of 20/20 News on CKLW from 'Radio Revolution - The Rise & Fall of the Big 8'.

Friday, February 11, 2011

January 2011: Top U.S.News Sites

When looking at the ten most popular Current Events and Global News sites, each saw month-over-month growth in their audience, as is often the case between December and January.

According to The Nielsen Company, Yahoo! News was the top site in the category with 46.3 million unique U.S. visitors, up 6% from December 2010. Yahoo! was followed by CNN Digital Network (+15%) and MSNBC Digital Network (+15.7%), both with double-digit gains in visitors.

Acquired by AOL earlier in the week, The Huffington Post was the #9 news site in January drawing 13.3 million unique visitors who averaged nearly 12 minutes on the site. Huff Post’s new sister site – AOL News – ranked #4 with 22.1 million unique visitors from home/work computers.

Although the Huff Post is now part of the same stable as AOL News, there was already some overlap amongst their audiences. In January 2011, 27% of US visitors to AOL News also visited Huff Post, while 44% of visitors to Huff Post also visited AOL News in that same month.

Weatherbird's 110th Birthday

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's iconic Weatherbird turns 110-years-old on February 11, 2011. He is the oldest continuously running daily cartoon in American Journalism.

Steve Deace Resigns From WHO-AM

Steve Deace, the controversial conservative drive-time host on Iowa’s largest radio station, has resigned from his show, according to an e-mail from station manager Van Harden to employees. His last day is today, according to a story at

Harden told employees of 1040 AM WHO in Des Moines that Deace said he and his family had been talking about resigning for some time, and “finally felt lead to make a change.”

“While he does not have another position to which he is going, he has had the ear and interest of many politicians and political campaigns seeking his strategic advice, and he says there is a possibility he may be doing some consulting,” the e-mail said. “While this came as a surprise to us, we at WHO, and Steve, want all to know this is a very friendly parting, so much so that Steve says he may be  able to make himself available occasionally to do some fill-in work for us if needed.”

Deace was an outspoken supporter of Mike Huckabee’s 2008 caucus campaign.

And he’s no stranger to controversy. In 2004, Deace garnered headlines when he criticized Shawn Green, a Jewish outfielder who at the time played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, for missing an important game scheduled during Yom Kippur. Deace said Green could solve all his problems by converting to Christianity and recognizing Jesus Christ as his Messiah.

He’s referred to TV star Oprah Winfrey as the “high priestess of American paganism,” consistently called same-sex marriage licenses “sodomy permission slips,” and said state Sen. Matt McCoy (D-Des Moines) could not be a Christian because he is gay. In the aftermath of the shooting spree at Ft. Hood, Texas, Deace said the shooter “may have done America a favor” if the tragedy serves as a wake-up call that Islam is incompatible with military service.

Read more here.

TWH Press Secretary Steps Down

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs steps down from the post Friday, after two years as President Barack Obama's top spokesman.

Jay Carney, the current communications director for Vice President Joe Biden, will succeed him at the podium.

Gibbs announced his decision to leave in January.

CNN reports Gibbs called it a "remarkable privilege" to serve the president. But he said he wants to "step back a little bit and recharge some" after four years of campaigning and a hard-fought first half of the Obama administration -- "probably the busiest years that Washington and the White House have seen in a couple of decades."

Read more here.

UPDATE: Ted Williams On Leaving Rehab

Golden Voiced Ted Williams speaks out in the first interview since walking out of rehab. Appearing sober and straight, Williams declared he is now in a different type of sobriety effort than the one TV’s Dr. Phil ordered. Dr. Phil’s idea of rehabilitation was too much and too fast according to Williams, according to as story by Dexter X. South at

Last month the world watched in awe as Ted Williams was discovered on the side of the road, homeless and penniless. His was holding a sign asking for help when he was noticed by a local TV reporter in Ohio. The self proclaimed addict told the world of battle with substance abuse on national TV as he was touted as the newest miracle success story. The instant fame and intention was too much for Williams and he quickly relapsed into his alcohol addiction.

Later interviewed by Dr. Phil, Williams relented to the TV personalities pressure to spend 90 days in a Texas rehab facility. His detractors smugly said, “I told you so” when we walked out of the program abruptly shortly thereafter. However, in today’s interview on the CBS The Early Show, Ted claims he left because even in rehab it was all too much. He found himself doing phone interviews instead of making classes.

Surprisingly, Williams says he is now living in a sober house in Los Angeles for members of the voiceover community, and dedicating himself to his new Second Chance Foundation. During his initial “Cinderella” period, Ted had reunited with his mother and estranged daughter, but in this interview, he indicated that it might not have been a wise decision.

Read more here.

The Grammys Promises To Be Star Studded

The GRAMMYs Add Dre And Dylan

Ten-time GRAMMY winner and Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Bob Dylan will perform with folk-rock band the Avett Brothers and current GRAMMY nominees Mumford & Sons in a special salute to acoustic music; and six-time GRAMMY winner and current nominee Dr. Dre — in his first live television performance in more than a decade — will grace the GRAMMY stage for the first time, joining current 10-time nominee Eminem for a historic collaboration, along with Maroon 5 frontman and current GRAMMY nominee Adam Levine, at the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards Sunday evening on CBS-TV.

GRAMMY winner and current four-time nominee Zac Brown, actor Eva Longoria, actor/singer Jennifer Lopez, GRAMMY and three-time Latin GRAMMY winner Ricky Martin, Green Bay Packers linebacker and Super Bowl XLV champion Clay Matthews, actor/singer and current nominee Matthew Morrison, television and radio host Ryan Seacrest, actor Jason Segel, three-time GRAMMY winner and current nominee Keith Urban, and seven-time GRAMMY winner have been added as presenters to the music industry's premier event.

Avett Brothers, Dr. Dre, Dylan, Levine, and Mumford & Sons join previously announced performers and nominees Arcade Fire, Eminem, Lady Antebellum, Lady Gaga, Miranda Lambert, Muse, Katy Perry, and Barbra Streisand; Yolanda Adams, Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Hudson, Martina McBride and current nominee Florence Welch in a special Aretha Franklin segment; nominees Justin Bieber and Usher, with Jaden Smith; nominees B.o.B, Bruno Mars, and Janelle Monáe; nominees Drake and Rihanna; nominee Cee Lo Green, with Gwyneth Paltrow and the Jim Henson Company Puppets; Mick Jagger with Raphael Saadiq; and Esperanza Spalding performing with members of the GRAMMY Jazz Ensembles and GRAMMY Camp.

Read more here.

Obama Unveils Rural Internet Plan

President Barack Obama unveiled an $18 billion plan Thursday to bring wireless high-speed Internet access to all Americans.

The president unveiled his plans to bring mobile broadband connections to 98 percent of the American people in five years, a goal he announced last month during the State of the Union address. He spoke at Northern Michigan University in Marquette. It is part of his “winning the future” strategy.

According to, the president’s wireless plan calls for nearly doubling the space available on the airwaves for wireless high-speed Internet traffic to keep up with ever-growing demand. The next generation of high-speed wireless — 4G technology — is more than 10 times faster than current high-speed wireless services, according to the plan.

The president said that auctioning off space on the radio spectrum to commercial wireless carriers would raise $27.8 billion over 10 years. The money could be spent on initiatives that include $10 billion to develop a national broadband network for public safety agencies and $5 billion for infrastructure to help rural areas access high-speed wireless. An additional $3 billion would go to research and development for wireless technologies that can be used for education, health care and energy. Additional money could be used to reduce the deficit.

Read more here.

3-D Channels to Begin Broadcasting Full Time

Two 3-D television channels will start broadcasting full time in the next week.

According to Brian Stelter at the Media Decoder blog at, Discovery, Sony and IMAX said Thursday that their 3-D joint venture, 3net, would begin televising on Sunday night. That’s one day before ESPN turns ESPN 3D into a 24-hour channel.

Around-the-clock broadcasting is an important step for both channels, but there is still little to watch in 3-D, so the channels will repeat the same shows over and over again.

3net says it will have about 20 original hours of programming in February. On Sunday, 3net will start up at 8 p.m. Eastern Time and show three nature documentaries: “China Revealed” at 8, “Into The Deep 3D”
at 9 and “Forgotten Planet” at 10.

Most people will not be able to watch: 3net will be available only to DirecTV subscribers initially. And of course, DirecTV subscribers will have to have a 3-D TV set and 3-D glasses to tune in.

Read more here.

Mubarak: US Cable News Jumps Gun

From David Zurawik, z on tv blog, The Baltimore Sun:

Thursday was one of those crazed and maddening days in the world of cable TV when a historic moment was anticipated, and some in the world of cable TV news covered the event as a done deal whether or not they had any verified information that it was indeed a certainty.

If you were watching MSNBC at 1:21 p.m. (EST), for example, you would have seen this headline: "NBC: Egyptian President Will Step Down Tonight."

I no longer expect journalism from a cable channel that features the likes of Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O'Donnell and Ed Schultz, but this was a new low in making any effort to actually report a story: just walking next door and asking its sister operation, NBC News -- and then laying the headline off on them.

I didn't see any such definitive statement about Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigning on NBC News Thursday. But if it did report that Mubarak was stepping down, as MSNBC said in its headline, then shame on NBC news, too. If not, then NBC should ask MSNBC to correct the record and stop tarnishing the brand.

But I have to say even on channels where more care was taken, viewers were definitely led to believe for most of the afternoon that Mubarak was about to go on Egyptian State TV any minute and announce he was going to step down. And who wouldn't stay glued to the tube all afternoon to see that -- even if you were on vacation like I was.

Only, of course, it didn't happen. Mubarak delegated some powers to his vice president, but said he was NOT stepping down until September as he has previously announced. And the channel that showed the most care in reporting the story responsibly from the beginning to the end of the afternoon was Al Jazeera, the very channel some in the U.S. try to depict as reckless in its Mideast coverage.

(Al Jazeera picture with headline: "Defiant Mubarak refuses to resign.")

Here was the key statement that should have slowed the runaway horses of cable madness at places like MSNBC: Anas el-Fekky, Egypt's minister of information, saying Mubarak was definitely not going to resign. He said it about 1:20 p.m. (EST) Thursday afternoon.
Read more here.
Also read:

Report: CIA Chief Based Congressional Testimony On Mubarak Departure On ‘Media Broadcasts’ (Mediaite)

CBS, Turner Team To Show March Madness

Entire NCAA Basketball Tournament Live for First Time

CBS Corp. and Time Warner Inc.’s Turner Broadcasting will televise all 67 games of the National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament live in their entirety for the first time in the tournament’s 73-year history.

Eben Novy-Williams at reports, The two networks, which signed a 14-year, $10.8 billion contract in April, will share broadcast, Internet and wireless rights to the college basketball tournament. Games will be shown on four networks -- CBS, and Turner’s TBS, TNT and truTV -- said Christina Miller, the senior vice president of strategy, marketing and programming for Turner Sports.

“Fans can now switch from game to game, from network to network, to the game that interests them,” Miller said in a telephone interview.

The new schedule will spread out the games’ starting times, particularly in the early rounds, allowing for every game to be seen from start to finish. In previous years, CBS grouped starting times together so the network could switch between contests if they were close.

Read more here.

SEO: Web Words That Lure Readers

The Huffington Post has hired veteran journalists to beef up its news coverage. But a significant chunk of its readers come instead for articles like one published this week: “Chelsy Davy & Prince Harry: So Happy Together?”

According to a story by Claire Cain Miller at, the two-sentence article was just a vehicle for a slide show of photographs of the couple and included no actual news. But “Chelsy Davy” was one of the top searches on Google that day, and soon after the article was published it became one of the first links that popped up in Google’s search results.

It was an example of an art and science at which The Huffington Post excels: search engine optimization, or S.E.O. The term covers a wide range of behind-the-scenes tactics for getting search engine users to visit a Web site, like choosing story topics based on popular searches.

Because Google is many Internet users’ front door to the Web, S.E.O. has become an obsession for many Web publishers, and successful ones use the strategies to varying degrees. But as newspapers, magazines, blogs and online-only news sites increasingly compete for readers, they are making it more of a priority than ever and adopting new techniques, like trying to maximize pass-alongs on social networks.

Read more here.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

CBS Wants Contract Extension for Katie Couric

CBS has asked Katie Couric to stay on as anchor after her lucrative contract expires at the end of May, a source familiar with the situation tells Howard Kurtz at The Daily Beast.

While negotiations have not yet started and a deal might fail to materialize, this is the first concrete indication that Les Moonves, the company’s chief executive, has made a decision on extending her deal.

That word comes amid a management shakeup in which Jeff Fager, the 60 Minutes executive producer, takes over CBS News from Sean McManus, the man who helped lure Couric from NBC’s Today show five years ago.

If Couric and the network reach agreement, it will be for an annual salary significantly lower than the $15 million in her original deal. And the source says the new contract would be for a shorter period, running through the 2012 elections, which would essentially buy time for both sides to pursue other options.

Read more here.

Simms Discusses Altercation With ESPN Analyst

After his altercation with ESPN analyst Desmond Howard at the NFL Experience in Dallas on Saturday, CBS talking head Phil Simms discussed the incident with radio host Chris Russo on Sirius XM on Monday.

According to a posting at, , Howard reported in a series of four tweets that the CBS commentator threatened to hit him for calling Simms’ son, Tennessee University quarterback Matt Simms, one of the worst quarterbacks in the SEC.

“During the season we talked about the Tenn. vs LSU game and I said ‘u will see 3 of the worse QBs in the SEC’ That’s what Phil did not like,” Howard tweeted Saturday, before mentioning that the incident ended with police involvement.

Simms told Russo he was annoyed with Howard for making the incident public, but took part of the blame, saying he should have known not to get involved. However, the former Giants quarterback declined to get too specific.

The only thing he seemed willing to elaborate on was that he “learned (his) lesson and it’s just, you’ve got to always be, just got to be smart at all times. You know how it is in life for everybody now. You can never let down for one second.”

Read more here.

AOL-HuffPo Merger Shakes Up Online News

From NPR's Tell Me More prgoram:

Is Right-Wing Talk Dying?

From John Avlon, The Daily Beast

Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh are losing fans in a key market. John Avlon on why listeners and station managers are sick of anti-Obama tirades—and who bucks the trend.

Here’s another sign that the tide might be turning against the Wingnuts—Glenn Beck’s TV ratings are down 50 percent and major market radio stations are dropping him.

That’s not all—a look at radio ratings shows that hyper-partisan talk has been declining or flat-lining between ‘09 and ‘10, despite the intensity of the election year. There’s a demand for something different—smart, un-predictable, non-partisan news is gaining market share because it stands out from the pack. And leading industry analysts say there is a market for more independent voices.

Read more here.
John Avlon's new book Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America is available now by Beast Books both on the Web and in paperback. He is also the author of Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics and a CNN contributor. Previously, he served as chief speechwriter for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and was a columnist and associate editor for The New York Sun.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

HuffPo, AOL CEO Share Vision for Online Content

In a bid to regain its foothold in online media, Internet giant AOL is purchasing The Huffington Post news blog for $315 million. Jeffrey Brown, from the PBS NewsHour, discusses the details of the buyout and the future of online content and advertising with AOL CEO Tim Armstrong and Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post.

Also read here:

AOL ♥ HuffPo. The loser? Journalism (LA Times OpEd)

AOL’s Bet on Another Makeover (NY Times)

National: "This Is Only A Test..."

First National Emergency Alert System (EAS) Test Ordered's SuperKaze
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has made it official.  It released an order last week that requires participants in the Emergency Alert System (EAS), namely broadcasters, cable operators, and certain satellite providers, to participate in the first-ever national test of EAS.

According to Rick Wimberly & Lorin Bristow at, the test will differ starkly from the monthly EAS tests the public knows so well.  In this case, the White House will actually activate the test as if the President wanted to take over the air waves to address the nation.  Although EAS-type capabilities have existed since the early 50's, no President has ever used it.

Now, we're going to find out how well it actually works.

The FCC order lays out how the test will be conducted.  It will use what many emergency managers know as the EAN code.  That's "Emergency Alert Notification", the code reserved for the President to activate EAS.  The EAN code kicks in the process where video and audio content will be interrupted by EAS participants monitoring the Primary Entry Point (PEP) stations that receive the message the White House originates.  Stations, cable outlets and some satellite programming providers are to interrupt their content to allow the White House to take over the air waves.

No specific date for the test was set, although as it stands, a two-month notice will be provided.  The FCC gave its staff ability to extend the notice period if necessary, and to work with stakeholders to determine the right time of the day for the test.  In a live web broadcast on EAS recently, senior FCC and FEMA officials indicated the test would be conducted in the latter part of 2011.

Read more here.

Making and Shaping the News

From George Washington University in DC, , four individuals who influenced the news agenda while representing the President of the United States, Dana Perino, Mike McCurry, Air Fleischer and Dee Dee Myers, give their insights on making and shaping news as a White House Press Secretary.

This Conversation Series event investigates the challenges, history, and politics of the role of the press secretary, and the changing media landscape that covers the White House.

Orioles Headed Back To WBAL

After a four-season run on 105.7 The Fan, the Orioles have decided to return their radio rights to WBAL-AM 1090, the Hearst-owned station that has had a partnership with the club for much of the past six decades, The Baltimore Sun reports citing multiple sources.

The financial arrangements of the multiyear deal haven’t been disclosed.

The decision, which comes after several months of the organization's shopping its radio rights, is somewhat surprising, considering the rocky parting between the Orioles and WBAL after the 2006 season.

WBAL had served as the club’s flagship station for 19 consecutive years when the club moved to the CBS-owned 105.7 for the start of the 2007 season, the first time in nearly 40 years the Orioles weren’t heard on the AM dial.

At the time, team officials cited the exposure the organization could get on CBS’ wide range of stations as one of the determining factors in the move. The club liked that 105.7’s sister stations, which include WJZ-ESPN 1300 AM, Mix 106.5 FM and WLIF 101.9 FM, crossed different demographics.

The prevailing thought was that the Orioles would remain with 105.7 despite their four-year deal expiring after the 2010 season. The two sides did engage in several rounds of negotiations, but they were unable to hammer out a deal.

That led to the Orioles’ return to WBAL, the team’s radio home for 41 of its 57 seasons in Baltimore. WBAL partnered with the Orioles from 1957 to 1978 and again from 1988 to 2006.

Read more here.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

CBS Names New News Management

Jeff Fager, the Executive Producer of 60 Minutes, has been promoted to the newly created position of Chairman of CBS News, and David Rhodes, most recently the head of U.S. Television operations for Bloomberg, has been named President of CBS News.

The announcement was made today by Leslie Moonves, President and Chief Executive Officer, CBS Corporation.

In his new role as Chairman of CBS News, Fager will report to Moonves and guide the overall editorial direction, content and quality of all CBS News broadcasts, both on-air and online. As President of the division, Rhodes will report to Fager and run the operations of CBS News on a day-to-day basis, taking charge of all coverage and staffing. The appointments are effective February 22, 2011.

“In these two great news professionals, we get the best of both worlds: the quintessential insider with deep knowledge of the business and all the moving parts at CBS News, as well as a dynamic young executive with strong news management experience and a tough, fresh point of view,” said Moonves. “They will inherit a proud and dedicated organization that has been well positioned for success in the future by their predecessor. Together, they make the ultimate winning team.”

Fager and Rhodes succeed Sean McManus who, in a separate announcement released today, has been named to the newly created position of Chairman of CBS Sports.

After a long and eminent career in broadcast journalism, Fager became the Executive Producer of 60 Minutes when the broadcast’s iconic founder, Don Hewitt, retired in 2004. Since then, he has continued to build the reputation of the broadcast, upholding its quality and increasing its relevance in a new and challenging era of electronic journalism. He oversaw the program’s conversion to high definition while growing its Internet presence and shaping its content to keep 60 Minutes on top as the #1 news broadcast on television. His efforts resulted in an unprecedented amount of awards and an average audience that is more than double that of its closest newsmagazine competition. Fager will maintain his position as Executive Producer of 60 Minutes.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to have worked here as long as I have,” Fager said, “and now to be in a position to guide CBS News into the future, along with someone as smart and talented as David Rhodes.

David Rhodes has been the head of U.S. Television for Bloomberg since November 2008, managing the channel’s programming, development, editorial, newsgathering, production and operations. In that post, he directed a staff of more than 200 in the United States, based at the company’s New York headquarters. Prior to joining Bloomberg, Rhodes worked for 12 years at Fox News, starting at the channel’s inception in 1996 as a Production Assistant. At the time of his departure, Rhodes was Vice President of News, managing all of the channel’s day-to-day news operations and domestic bureaus, with a particular emphasis on breaking news and political coverage.

“We are extremely pleased that David Rhodes will be joining Jeff at the helm of CBS News,” Moonves said.

Keith Olbermann to Host Show on Current TV

CBS News photo
Former MSNBC talk show host Keith Olbermann announced via Twitter today that he is becoming "Chief News Officer" at Current TV, the low-rated public affairs channel cofounded by former Vice President Al Gore.

CBS News quotes Olbermann: "And awayyyyyy we go!"

Olbermann will host what Current calls a "Major New Nightly Primetime News and Commentary Show" on weeknights on Current. The network hailed the former sportscaster for his "slashing wit, analytical eye, and distinctive commentary."

The one-hour show is set to start in the late spring. As chief news officer, Olbermann will also provide editorial guidance for Current's primetime lineup, which is being overhauled.

In announcing the news, Olbermann had this to say: "Nothing is more vital to a free America than a free media, and nothing is more vital to my concept of a free media than news produced independently of corporate interference." He and Gore discussed the move during a phone news conference Tuesday morning, with Olbermann stating his new show will be an "improved and amplified and stronger version" of his last one. 

Olbermann abruptly quit his primetime MSNBC show, "Countdown," last month amid reports of an acrimonious relationship with the station's management. He was suspended last year for having made donations to political candidates.

An unapologetic liberal who often targeted prominent conservatives as "the worst person in the world" on his MSNBC show, Olbermann will bring a boost of visibility to Current.

Read more here.

Also read here:

Keith Olbermann's effect on Current TV's bottom line (Fortune)

Is Glenn Beck Fox's Keith Olbermann?

Opinion: Fox, like MSNBC, learns the hard way

From Jennifer Rubin Right Turn blog, The Washington Post:

As other conservatives and I have written, whether on the topic of his inappropriate use of Holocaust talk or with regard to the many other instances of inflammatory language, Glenn Beck has proved himself to be a poor representative of the conservative movement. He provides fodder for the left, eschews substance in favor of vitriol and is often simply wrong on the facts. Unfortunately, many conservatives have largely ignored his behavior, just as those on the left refused to recognize that Keith Olbermann was a menace to the image of liberals.

Beck once again has proven how uncivil and unreasoned he is, this time going after Bill Kristol, whom Beck has not the decency to refer to by his real name. Bill took Beck to task recently for his hysterical language and reaction to the Egyptian revolution. And Beck proved Bill's criticism correct by unleashing a stream of insults. You don't have to favor Bill's approach to Egypt or anything else to realize an ad hominem attack without any intellectual argument is really not what conservatives should be all about. There has been plenty of spirited and collegial debate on the topic on the right, as I have explained. But Beck's spasm of bile does his network no favors.

The problem with ranting extremists is they usually wind up impaling themselves and their employers. MSNBC figured out that it could field liberal hosts who were as popular with its audience as Olbermann, without having to put up with the hassles. You wonder how long Fox will take to reach the same conclusion about its own unhinged screamer.
Read more here.

CC Media Holdings, Inc. Reports Results

CC Media Holdings, Inc. Monday reported results for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2010.

"We executed our strategic plan and returned our operations to growth in 2010,” said Mark Mays, President and CEO of CC Media Holdings. “We drove considerable improvement in the operating fundamentals of both our radio and outdoor platforms as we benefitted from a recovering global economy, increasing revenues and improving margins. This all led to healthy growth in our cash flows for 2010.”

“Our global asset base remains well positioned to benefit from the ongoing advertising market recovery,” Mays continued. “In the year ahead, we remain focused on driving innovation across our operations, increasing market share and maintaining a disciplined approach to cost-management. Given the trends we are seeing across our business and the operating leverage in our model, we are optimistic that we can generate improved results in the year ahead.”

Full Year 2010 Results

For 2010, CC Media Holdings’ revenues grew 6% to $5.87 billion. The increase over the $5.55 billion reported for 2009 resulted from an improved advertising environment driven by the strengthening economy and occurred across the Company’s businesses.

Radio revenues increased $162 million, or 6%, from local and national revenues on improved rates.

Americas Outdoor revenues increased $52 million, or 4%, across products, particularly digital, on improved rates and occupancy. Excluding the impact of the disposition of the Company’s Taxi Media business, and excluding the effects of foreign exchange 1, revenues were up $82 million, or 7%

International Outdoor revenues increased $48 million, or 3%, from street furniture growth across various countries. Excluding the effects of foreign exchange 1, revenues were up 4%

The Company substantially completed its restructuring program during 2010, benefitting from cost reductions and experiencing lower restructuring expenses compared to 2009. The growth in revenues, along with expanded margins, driven by cost reductions, resulted in OIBDAN 1 growth of 29% over 2009.

The Company’s loss before income taxes for the full year 2010 was $623 million compared to a loss before taxes of $4.54 billion for 2009. Included in the 2010 results were impairment charges of $15 million compared to impairment charges of $4.12 billion included in the 2009 results.

Mays' Farewell To Clear Channel Employees

Following the Clear Channel quarterly conference call Monday, Mark Mays sent an e-mail to all Clear Channel employees letting them know that he will be out by the end of March.

Mark Mays E-Mail to Employees
"There’s a time for everything.  And with a New Year well underway, on the road to a new financing that secures Clear Channel’s near term outlook, and a leadership team that has positioned the company for growth, I’ve determined that now is THE right time for me to follow through on the commitment I made to my family and myself and step back from daily management of the company.  I’ve informed the Board that by March 31 I will retire as President and CEO of Clear Channel – news which was announced today along with our Fourth Quarter earnings".

"It’s not time for me to say “Goodbye” to all of you – or to Clear Channel.  I intend to stay involved with this company that I love, continuing in my role as Chairman.  But with leadership like CCO America’s Ron Cooper; William Eccleshare at CCO International; John Hogan at Clear Channel Radio – now joined by Bob Pittman, Clear Channel’s Chairman of Media and Entertainment Platforms; CFO Tom Casey; GC Rob Walls and Head of HR Bill Feehan – our company’s daily operations are in the great hands of a team that has shown how much it can accomplish together and what great potential our operations have for growth.

Their leadership, their spirit of innovation, their belief in all that can be accomplished with your help, are what have made it possible for me to consider finalizing these plans of mine.  Meanwhile, the Board will continue the active search for my replacement that began back in June when I first told you of my intention to retire". 

"This will be the beginning of a new stage in life for me, one that I’m looking forward to.  But I will also look forward to maintaining my ties to Clear Channel and to you all – and take continuing pride in all your great work".

Warm Regards,

AOL-HuffPo Wants To Do 'Real Journalism'

Rough estimate of Huffington's personal cut of the deal: $100 million, virtually all of it in cash, according to Wall Street analyst Laura Martin.
Huffington, 60, was nearly universally proclaimed as the big winner in the transaction, and not just for the astounding payday less than six years after launching "HuffPo."

Radio Show Host Blasts Eminem-Detroit Ad

The host of a national radio program used Chrysler's Super Bowl commercial to criticize everything the ad extolled — the car company, the city of Detroit and Eminem.

Mark Steyn, a conservative commentator filling in for Rush Limbaugh on Monday, said the commercial wrongly placed Detroit in a positive light,  writes Francis X. Donnelly at The Detroit News.

"We're now being told that this is the model for America in the 21st century," he said. "If it is, we're all doomed."

Referring to a book published last year that showed the city's ruins, Steyn compared Detroit to European cities reduced to rubble during world wars.

"Unlike European cities, no bombs fell on this American city," he said. "This American city did it to themselves."

He blamed the city's decline on unions and a succession of liberal political leaders.

One Detroiter took umbrage.

Louise Cantrell, 36, a manicurist, said Steyn has probably never visited the city.

"The commercial made me cry," she said. "It was everything good about the city."

Locally the radio show aired on WJR-AM 760. Station officials couldn't be reached to determine how listeners reacted.

During the show, Steyn criticized Chrysler for spending what he called $9 million of taxpayer money for the ad.

The automaker, which received a federal bailout of $15 billion in 2009, is negotiating with banks to refinance its debt.

Read more here.

Also read here:

Mark Steyn mocks Black Eyed Peas Super Bowl punditry (The Daily Caller)

Huffington Should Pay the Bloggers Something Now

From Dan Gillmor,
We already know that Arianna Huffington is smart. She and her small team have built a media company from nothing in just a few years, and now they’re flipping it to AOL, where she’ll be content editor in chief. The price sounds bizarrely high to me at $315 million, but so do lots of prices these days in what looks like a new Internet bubble.
AOL has been rolling the dice at an ever-more-frantic rate lately on digital content. The reported $25 million it paid for TechCrunch made sense to me, and I think it’s way too early to say, as many are doing, that the Patch local-news service is failing. But there’s a common thread in many of the content initiatives: paying low (or no) money to the people providing the content, and having lots and lots of it.
Indeed, the Huffington Post’s home-grown content, for the most part, has been especially notable for its low cost to Huffington: low as in free. Although some actual paid journalists work for the organization, her blogger network is an amazing achievement; she’s persuaded untold numbers of people to write for nothing, to have their names on the page as compensation for their labor. Exploitive? Sure, in a way, but let’s also recognize the fact that people want to put their stuff on the site. No one writes for the New York Times op-ed page for the money; it’s for the platform to spread ideas.
And, based on the email Huffington sent to her bloggers, that’s the model she plans to continue.
Read more here.

Huffington Is To AOL As AOL Was To Time-Warner

From Scott Rosenberg,
A late Sunday night in winter and the surprise announcement of a big merger, with Kara Swisher one of the key people breaking the news: No wonder the Huffington Post/AOL announcement last night gave veteran tech and media-biz reporters a flashback to 2000 and the colossally ill-fated AOL/Time-Warner deal.
The events are similar in another way: despite all the CEO happy-talk about synergy, we are once again watching two companies in trouble taking a big gamble that the other will solve its problems.
People think of Huffington Post as the leading popular liberal-Democratic news site. Huffington is now at least suggesting that the progressive point of view isn’t a part of what she’ll be pursuing at AOL. “Ms. Huffington said her politics would have no bearing on how she ran the new business,” says the NY Times story.
This strikes me as strange, disingenuous, and about as credible as Roger Ailes claiming that Fox is not a partisan-driven institution.
One possibility is, Huffington is just saying what the corporate script requires and actually the plan is to position AOL as a sort of Democratic alternative to Fox News/Drudge — which I think would be a really interesting move. I have to assume Arianna has big TV ambitions; I have yet to meet a new-media empire builder who didn’t secretly yearn to do an Ailes (or an Oprah).

Read more here.

Scott Rosenberg is a writer, editor and website builder. These days he's working on He wrote 'Say Everything and Dreaming in Code.. I was co-founder and managing editor of Salon.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Keith Olbermann Preps For ‘Next Chapter’

Keith Olbermann is planning to announce his next career move.

Olbermann sent an email to media types today announcing a conference call slated for 11 AM ET Tuesday.

According to the email invite: “he and his new partners will make an exciting announcement regarding the next chapter in his remarkable career.”


Olbermann Said to Be Going to Current TV (Media Decoder blog, NYTimes)

SB XLV Most Watched TV Show Ever

Game Obliterates Prior Record,
Sets Super Bowl Mark for Fourth Straight Year
Prime Time Audience Exceeds 100 Million for First Time

History was made last night on FOX when Super Bowl XLV became the most-watched U.S. television program ever, and FOX became the first network ever to exceed 100 million viewers (100.9 million) for a night in prime time, according to fast-national ratings released today by Nielsen Media Research.

The game, the outcome of which was in doubt until the final seconds, saw the Green Bay Packers defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 to capture the franchise’s fourth Super Bowl Championship.

FOX Sports’ broadcast of Super Bowl XLV averaged 111 million viewers and is the most-watched television program in U.S. history, obliterating the prior record of 106.5 set last year during Super Bowl XLIV by 4.5 million viewers and the 106.0 million for the series finale of M*A*S*H, which held the viewership record from 1983 to 2010.

This is the fourth consecutive Super Bowl to set a viewership record, and attracted 13.5 million more viewers than FOX’s last Super Bowl broadcast in 2008 (97.5 million) for the New York Giants upset of the undefeated New England Patriots.  No other major sporting event has ever hit a record high in four consecutive years. This also marks the sixth straight year that Super Bowl viewership has increased, and over that span average Super Bowl viewership has increased from 86.1 million in 2005 to 111.0 million, a gain of nearly 25 million viewers.

The game posted a 46.0/69 household rating/share tying Super Bowl XXX in 1996 (Dallas-Pittsburgh) as the highest-rated since Super Bowl XX in 1986 (48.3/70, Chicago vs. New England).  Only eight of the 45 Super Bowls played had a higher rating, and all were played in a nine-year span between 1978 and 1986.

Super Bowl XLV also set a new mark for total viewership of any program in U.S. history (persons age 2+ watching all or part of the game) with 162.9 million people watching, 9.5 more than the record set a year ago (153.4 million).

Half-hour ratings and average viewership (in millions) for the game are as follows: 41.4/97.2 (6:34-7:00 PM ET); 44.3/106.8 (7:00-7:30); 45.9/111.7 (7:30-8:00); 44.7/110.2 (8:00-8:30); 46.8/114.9 (8:30-9:00); 48.4/116.8 (9:00-9:30); 49.2/117.2 (9:30-10:00); 47.1/111.5 (10:00-10:13 PM ET).

The Super Bowl XLV PRE-GAME SHOW averaged an 11.5/23 from 2:00 PM ET to kickoff at 6:34 PM ET, a +16% gain over last year’s 9.9/19, with 22.2 million viewers, and is the highest-rated, most-watched Super Bowl pre-game show in nine years (12.9, 23.3 million on FOX).  FOX’s Super Bowl XLV POST-GAME SHOW earned a 28.4/46 (66.0 mill.), down -14% compared to a year ago (33.0/51) on CBS, but up +11% over 2009′s 25.7/42 on NBC.

Following the post-game, a special airing of Glee averaged a series-best 13.6/25 (26.8 mill.) among all Households and 11.1 among Adults 18-49, and is the highest-rated scripted program on television in three years among Adults 18-49.

The airing of Super Bowl XLV goes down as FOX’s most-watched night of prime time ever, as well as FOX’s highest-rated night ever among Adults 18-49. It’s also the most-watched night on any network in at least 20 years, and the highest-rated night on any network among Adults 18-49 in 15 years (dating to the night of Super Bowl XXX on NBC). The record-smashing performance of the Super Bowl vaults FOX into first place in the Adults 18-49 ratings race for the first time this season.  FOX projects to average a 3.4/9 for the season among Adults 18-49 through last night’s game, surpassing second-best CBS (3.0).

The SUPER BOWL HALFTIME SHOW, featuring the Black Eyed Peas posted a 44.7/68 from 8:00 PM ET-8:30 PM ET, only -3% lower than the entire game.  That’s a slightly better audience retention than was delivered by recent halftimes featuring The Who in 2010 (-4%), Bruce Springsteen in 2009 (-5%) and Tom Petty in 2008 (-6%).  It is the highest-rated half-time since Michael Jackson performed in 1993 (45.5).

Ratings in the participating markets, the host city, and other major markets were the highest in many years.

Both Pittsburgh (59.7/87) and Milwaukee (59.7/85) tied for the second-highest single-market rating in Super Bowl history.  The rating trails only Chicago’s 63.0 rating in Super Bowl XX.  Dallas, the host city, posted a 53.7/80, third-highest rating ever for a Super Bowl host city whose local team was not participating. Only Jacksonville’s 58.9 (‘05) and San Diego’s 53.9 (’03) were higher for a host city.   Dallas contributed over 700,000 more homes than Miami did a year ago.  New York, the nation’s no. 1 TV market, delivered a 42.6/63, the best rating in Gotham for a non-Giants Super Bowl in 28 years.  Los Angeles notched a 40.1/71, its best in 13 years for a non-Rams or Raiders Super Bowl.  Chicago posted a 51.4/73, which beat the rating for the Bears in Super Bowl XLI (50.2) and is the markets best-ever for a non-Bears Super Bowl.

Super Ads: The Best, The Worst

All the Super Bowl ads on one page, click here.

USA Today 23rd annual Super Bowl Ad Meter:

For the first time ever, two ads tied for first with the consumer dial groups -- Bud Light and Doritos, both featuring dogs. ("USA TODAY assembled 282 adult volunteers in Bakersfield, Calif., and McLean, Va., and electronically charted their second-by-second reactions [using] handheld meters.")
  • 10 most popular: Bud Light, Doritos (tied for 1st), Volkswagen, Doritos, Pepsi Max, CareerBuilder, Pepsi Max, NFL, Bridgestone, Coke.
  • 5 least popular: Hyundai (lowest), Hyundai, (Danica Patrick), Stella Artois, Mini Cooper.
The ads ranked, 1-61 (with video for each; slow-loading page). Click here.

AOL Buy$ The Huffington Post For $315m

AOL Inc. announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire The Huffington Post, the influential and rapidly growing news, analysis, and lifestyle website founded in 2005, which now counts nearly 25 million unique monthly visitors.

The transaction will create a premier global, national, local, and hyper-local content group for the digital age - leveraged across online, mobile, tablet, and video platforms. The combination of AOL's infrastructure and scale with The Huffington Post's pioneering approach to news and innovative community building among a broad and sophisticated audience will mark a seminal moment in the evolution of digital journalism and online engagement.

The new group will have a combined base of 117 million unique visitors a month in the United States and 270 million around the world. Following the close of this transaction, AOL will accelerate its strategy to deliver a scaled and differentiated array of premium news, analysis, and entertainment produced by thousands of writers, editors, reporters, and videographers around the globe.

As part of the transaction, Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post's co-founder and editor-in-chief, will be named president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, which will include all Huffington Post and AOL content, including Engadget, TechCrunch, Moviefone, MapQuest, Black Voices, PopEater, AOL Music, AOL Latino, AutoBlog, Patch, StyleList, and more.

"The acquisition of The Huffington Post will create a next-generation American media company with global reach that combines content, community, and social experiences for consumers," said Tim Armstrong, Chairman and CEO of AOL. "Together, our companies will embrace the digital future and become a digital destination that delivers unmatched experiences for both consumers and advertisers."

Armstrong continued, "Arianna is a singularly passionate and dedicated champion of innovative journalistic engagement, and a master of the art of using new media to illuminate, entertain and enhance the national conversation. Arianna is a remarkable person and she will continue to create remarkable outcomes for the combined company."

"This is truly a merger of visions and a perfect fit for us," said Huffington. "The Huffington Post will continue on the same path we have been on for the last six years - though now at light speed - by combining with AOL. Our readers will still be able to come to the Huffington Post at the same URL, and find all the same content they've grown to love, plus a lot more - more local, more tech, more entertainment, more finance, and lots more video. We are fusing a legendary and powerful new media brand with a vibrant, innovative news organization, known for its distinctive voice, a highly engaged audience, an expertise in community-building, and a track record for demystifying the news and putting flesh and blood on the data while drawing our audience into the conversation."

Huffington continued, "By uniting AOL and The Huffington Post, we are creating one of the largest destinations for smart content and community on the Internet. And we intend to keep making it better and better."

Kenneth Lerer, The Huffington Post's Co-Founder and Chairman, said, "The Huffington Post team has created a potent brand with the proven track record of knowing how to grow traffic, inform and entertain its readers and build a one-of-a-kind online community. Add that to the powerful scale and resources of AOL and you have the perfect combination for today and the future. Together these two companies will be a premier online content provider. From local citizen reporting through AOL's Patch, to The Huffington Post's national reporting on politics, business and culture, consumers will have access to everything they want whenever they want it."

AOL has agreed to purchase The Huffington Post for $315 million, approximately $300 million of which will be paid in cash funded from cash on hand. The Huffington Post is privately owned by its two cofounders, as well as a group of investors. The proposed transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of government approvals. The boards of directors of each company and shareholders of The Huffington Post have approved the transaction. The transaction is expected to close in the late first- or early second-quarter 2011.

Also read here:

AOL buys Huffington Post: the beginning of the end? (Guardian)

In NYC, WABC Plans Post-Oprah Era

Station to add local news hour,
Regis exit delayed several months

New York local television will be different in the fall, at least for longtime market leader WABC, according to Matthew Flamm at

For the first time in 25 years, there will be no Oprah Winfrey Show overpowering the ratings at 4 p.m. and funneling thousands of viewers to the dominant 5 o'clock newscast, Channel 7's Eyewitness News. The Queen of Daytime will end her broadcast run and move to the recently launched Oprah Winfrey Network, a joint venture with cable programming giant Discovery.

And Regis Philbin, co-host of Live with Regis and Kelly, will step down from his 9 a.m. talk show seat after 29 years on WABC. His departure will come at the end of November, Crain's has learned, to allow for a proper—and presumably highly rated—goodbye. He had originally planned to leave in August.

The flagship station of Walt Disney Co.'s ABC Television group has been No. 1 in billings for the past five years, insiders say, and No. 1 in ratings for the past six. But it will have to figure out a new way to lead viewers into its early evening newscasts, where a good chunk of its money is made.

Oprah Winfrey's departure is the primary game changer. She's leaving a gaping hole in the schedule, and Channel 7's rivals could capture some of her audience. She might also take viewers with her. OWN has not announced its fall lineup.

But WABC executives expect to hold their lead. OWN has yet to establish a big audience, and though there are reasonably strong syndicated talk shows, like Dr. Phil on WCBS and Ellen on WNBC, there are no signs yet of another Oprah.

WABC isn't even looking for one. Dave Davis, general manager of Channel 7, told Crain's that the plan is to add another hour of local news, and become the only New York station with a 4 o'clock newscast.

Mr. Davis likes the economics. He may have to hire reporters, but successful newscasts do well with advertisers, and stations keep the revenue rather than sharing it as they do with network and syndicated programming.

Even more important, the station won't have to pay a hefty license fee. Oprah reportedly costs WABC $275,000 a week. While viewing is up this season, and though it easily wins its time period, the show has lost about half its audience over the past six years, and is generally considered a break-even proposition.

Read more here.

Controversial Outdoor Board Gets Revised

A controversial board in Orlando pulled down by Clear Channel Outdoor as "in bad taste" is getting revised.  The campaign was also placed on CBS owned boards and they reportedly remain in place.

The board for Shannon Burke, whose daily talk show airs on  810 AM WEUS got attention after a local TV station and The Orlando Sentinel reported the imagery because of Burke's recent past.

The Sentinel reported Burke was fired two years ago (when he was employed by Clear Channel Radio's 104.1 WTKS) after he got drunk and flew into a rage because his dog had sneaked out of the yard. He pulled a handgun, shot his wife's dog, and the same bullet grazed the side of his wife's head. After first ordering him out of the house, she forgave him, took him back and helped him avoid a prison term.

He pleaded no contest to animal cruelty and opening fire in a building and served six months in the Seminole County Jail. He also was ordered into alcohol rehab, to get treatment for bi-polar disorder and to give up his guns.

The article alsl reported whole ordeal, he said, had moved Burke closer to God and helped revive his marriage. Shortly after his release from jail, his marriage failed and the couple separated.

On Wednesday, Clear Channel put up a billboard that shows Burke holding a microphone as if it were a gun, with smoke drifting from its tip.

"Listen or else," it says.

On Thursday the billboard came down. On the air at WEUS, Burke accused Clear Channel broadcasters of trying to marginalize him, according to The Sentinel. They do not want a former employee taking away listeners and using a company billboard to do it, Burke said.

On Superbowl Sunday, revised artwork appeared on the front sports page of The Sentinel.

As for the CC Outdoor campaign, Burke says new artwork is coming.  According to Burker, "I am actually doing a photo shoot for a Clear Channel board. It's me, hair combed over, in a cardigan sweater, in a grassy park with puppies all over me!"

House Chatter on C-Span? Not This Session

It looks like C-SPAN viewers will have to wait another two years – at least – to get close up coverage of the arm twisting and fat chewing that occurs daily on the House floor, according to Patrick O'Connor at

Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) this week rejected the cable network’s latest appeal to put cameras in the House chamber. C-SPAN wants the freedom to pan away from speakers to capture conversations between members and lawmakers’ reactions to things said during debate.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), Mr. Boehner’s predecessor as speaker, rejected similar appeals.

“Consistent with the precedent set by former speakers, I believe the American people – and the dignity and decorum of the United States House of Representatives – are best served by the current system of televised proceedings provided by the House Recording Studio,” Mr. Boehner wrote C-SPAN Chief Executive Brian Lamb in a letter sent Thursday.

In November, right after the election, Mr. Lamb wrote then-speaker designate Boehner renewing the cable network’s longstanding request to set up cameras inside the chamber to capture action on the floor.

Rules established when television cameras were first installed in the chamber in 1979 require that operators fix their shots on members speaking from podiums on the floor.

Read more here.

Advertising Rebound Eludes Newspapers

Monetizing digital content won't come easy

Overall media advertising has rebounded after the economic downturn that started in early 2008, but newspaper publishers have yet to see positive growth. As illustrated below, advertising industry dollars began to decline in the second quarter of 2008, but the drop was more pronounced for newspaper publishers, continuing a secular shift from print media that started before the recession, according to a story at

Even as the economy has improved, newspapers are still posting year-over-year revenue declines, while television and online advertising have rebounded sharply. In our view, the newspaper industry's decline will prevent  Gannett from sustaining positive top-line growth, given their dependence on publishing (roughly three fourths of total sales for each firm).

Predictably, advertisers are allocating fewer dollars to newspapers as consumers continue to spend more time watching television and surfing the Internet. As newspaper circulation drops, newspaper ad spending should also decline, creating a vicious cycle. U.S. newspaper circulation has fallen during each of the past 15 years, and newspapers' share of ad spending decreased to 23% in 2009 from 31% in 2002.

Aside from the increasing amount of time people spend on the Internet, this medium attracts advertisers as it allows for more targeted and measurable marketing. The advent of portable digital technology (such as smartphones) has only accelerated the decline of newspapers.
Read more here.

For Car Cassette Decks, Play Time Is Over

For all of you who were planning to pack up your oldies tapes and go shopping for a 2011 car, there is bad news: you’re too late, writes Stephen Williams at

According to experts who monitor the automotive market, the last new car to be factory-equipped with a cassette deck in the dashboard was a 2010 Lexus.

While it is possible that a little-known exception lurks deep within some automaker’s order forms, a survey of major automakers and a search of new-car shopping Web sites indicates that the tape deck is as passé as tailfins on a Caddy.

In most respects, that’s not a bad thing.

Although the technologies behind the compact tape cassette, which was invented by Philips, improved through the years — longer play times, better tape quality, Dolby noise reduction — magnetic tapes were subject to wear. They stretched, wound themselves around the innards of the drive mechanism and melted their cases in hot weather.

Still, for more than two decades the cassette ruled the road. It offered less distortion and higher fidelity than its predecessor, the wobbly eight-track tape, a positively primitive format.

But the cassette’s epitaph was being written with the arrival of the compact disc. The CD, not subject to wear because it was read by a laser beam and had no physical contact with the player, delivered even less distortion, even higher fidelity — and remains the ubiquitous audio source in new cars.

Audio seers say that the CD, too, will eventually fade away. Technology marches on, and automakers are wary of becoming stragglers in that parade.

For now, a variety of high-quality tape decks remain available for self-installation. And should you one day make the leap to a modern digital music player, the files could be accessed through the cassette slot using an adapter readily found in electronics stores.

Read more here.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Sunday Funny

CAUTION: Crude language....TV assignment editor explains his job.