• Reduced Ad Format On 'Chris Isaak' Debut
    A&E Networks' Bio Channel is testing the concept of fewer ads per hour with a new variety show that launched last night. "The Chris Isaak Hour" contains only eight minutes of national advertising, down from 11 in a normal one-hour program. Two of the show's four commercial breaks will be limited to one 60-second advertisement. The question is whether networks can make up for a potential loss of ad revenue by getting advertisers to pony up for the opportunity to stand out in a less crowded field. So far Pfizer and Procter & Gamble Co. are among the ...
  • 'Chicago Tribune' Pulls Tower Off The Market
    Tribune Co. hired brokers last summer to sell the landmark Chicago Tribune tower and the Los Angeles Times' headquarters complex, known as Times Mirror Square to raise cash. But the company has scrapped plans to sell the Tribune Tower because of cratering real estate prices and the company's 2008 bankruptcy filing. Finding a buyer for the 940,000-square-foot tower in downtown Chicago would be unlikely in a market where no big downtown office building has sold since last July. Tribune's December bankruptcy-protection filing also was a factor in the company's decision because it would have complicated the sales process. ...
  • Requiem For Newspapers Masks Opportunities
    The threat of extinction of storied titles, such as The Philadelphia Inquirer, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer and San Francisco Chronicle, has cast a pall just when some of the greatest innovations to the news industry are starting to evolve. Some say that no online newsroom can be successful without a legacy print organization to feed it. But TheStreet.com, Slate, MSNBC.com, Politico, Bloomberg and Reuters are good examples of award-winning journalism groups not tied to or born from print roots. Going forward, the two necessary building blocks of the news business will be content and content ...
  • Exec Shuffle Hits Arbitron
    Arbitron's new CEO Michael Skarzynski has begun to reorganize the company's executive suite. Two president-level positions were eliminated and one of the two presidents, Owen Charlebois, president of technology, research and development, is exiting the company March 22. Pierre Bouvard's position as president of sales and marketing was also eliminated. Bouvard will remain with the company, but with a new title: executive vice president of sales. During the radio ratings firm's fourth- quarter earnings conference call on Feb. 17, Skarzynski advised investors that changes were being considered within the company and that layoffs are a possibility.
  • Gossip Legend Liz Smith: Goodbye 'NY Post'
    After more than three decades as a newspaper gossip columnist, Liz Smith was laid off by New York Post editor Col Allan this week. The 86-year-old legend received a letter stating that difficult economic times made it impossible to renew her $125,000 a year contract. Still, Smith is syndicated and writes for wowowow.com and Variety. She talks about her ouster in a Q&A with former columnist Lloyd Grove. Smith says she went directly to Post owner Rupert Murdoch to try to keep her job. "I sat down and told him I wasn't ready to quit yet anymore than he's ...
  • Murdoch Eyes 'NYT,' 'LA Times'
    Rupert Murdoch's counterintuitive quest to invest in print media helped drive away longtime lieutenant Peter Chernin. News Corp. insiders say Murdoch's love of print media is so fervent that he's privately been talking about a play for The New York Times, and possibly the Los Angeles Times, which could make easier prey. As Wall Streeters digested the news of Chernin's exit, they identified two things that make a deal for The New York Times a remote but intriguing possibility: The dire state of the newspaper and the swashbuckling style of Murdoch, who has defied doubters since his empire-building ...
  • Condé Nast Has 'Worst Year Of Any Publisher'
    Condé Nast is reeling more than its competitors, as luxury-goods retailers hoard their ad dollars. While the industry is down 24% in ad pages so far in the first quarter, many of Condé's venerable titles are down 30%. Start-up mag Portfolio is down a staggering 60%, while Wired is off 57%. For the first time in more than a decade, the privately run company led by Chairman S.I. Newhouse Jr. and CEO Charles Townsend could be awash in red ink. Rival executives say Condé is having the worst year of any publisher and that recent cuts of 5% ...
  • CBS' NCAA Men's Tourney Almost Sold Out
    CBS' coverage of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Men's Basketball Tournament is approximately 90% sold out at prices that are roughly in line with last year. New advertisers this year include Charles Schwab, Hershey and Audi. Liberty Mutual, a sponsor last year, is not returning. John Bogusz, executive vice president at CBS Sports, says this year's coverage, which begins March 19, is commanding roughly the same pricing as last year. Some buyers are reporting price hikes of 2-3%. The total volume of network sales is expected to be about even with last year at around $430 million. A ...
  • Activision's $200 Mil Media Account in Play
    Video-game giant Activision Blizzard has put its $200 million global media-planning and media-buying account in review. The North American incumbent, Publicis's MediaVest, is competing against Omnicom's OMD, WPP's Mediaedge:cia, and independent Horizon, which is partnering with Columbus Media International, according to insiders. Brad Jakeman, Activision chief creative officer, says the review grew from the $18 billion merger of Activision and Vivendi in December 2007. Vivendi owns Blizzard Entertainment, which publishes the game "World of Warcraft." Along with Activision's "Guitar Hero," the merged company houses two of the industry's most popular gaming titles under one roof. MediaVest handles ...
  • BBDO, PHD Make 80 Job Cuts
    Omnicom's BBDO laid off about 50 staffers at its Troy, Mich., office Wednesday, after shedding 145 people in November. BBDO Troy's only client is Chrysler, for which it handles its namesake, Dodge and Jeep brands, as well as parts, service, dealer, corporate image and financial advertising. Sibling PHD, another Chrysler shop, let go about 30 staffers who worked on the business on Wednesday. BBDO's latest layoff, which affects nearly every discipline, amounts to a 10% staff cut, leaving a staff of about 475. The shop's November cut represented about 22% of the staff, and left about 525 employees. ...
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