• MTV Tries a New TV and Web Franchise
    In an effort to come up with a pop culture concept that could spawn a new hit franchise, MTV is experimenting with "$5 Cover," a TV and Web series about the Memphis music scene. The series uses real musicians in virtually all the acting roles and is orchestrated by Craig Brewer, writer-director of the film "Hustle & Flow." The show launches Friday at midnight on MTV's cable channel and on its site, fivedollarcover.com. It seeks to exploit new-media storytelling, combining the narcissism of reality TV with the raw edges of indie cinema. The main Web component of the series ...
  • Gannett Names 'USA Today' Publisher
    David Hunke, publisher of the Detroit Free Press, has been named publisher of USA Today. Hunke, a well-regarded Gannett executive, has been in charge of the Detroit Media Partnership, a joint operating agreement between Gannett's Free Press and the Detroit News, owned by MediaNews Group. Earlier this year, Hunke oversaw a dramatic change when the Free Press and Detroit News stopped home delivery of the print edition several days a week as a way to save money and encourage use of an electronic edition instead. Hunke received widespread attention in the newspaper world for his willingness to take ...
  • Fox Nixes Obama Press Conference
    Fox is sticking its neck out this week and refusing to air President Obama's Wednesday night press conference, set for 8 p.m. Instead, Fox will air an episode of "Lie to Me," as planned. ABC, CBS and NBC will juggle their schedules to present the press conference, the third in prime time since Obama took office. Many net execs are grousing about having to once again make last-minute arrangements to accommodate the president. They say they are likely to decline the next time -- and use Fox's decision not to air this one as an excuse. ...
  • Cable Results May Show Future of Ad Slump
    Everyone wants to know if TV's advertising recession is nearing its lowest ebb. Results from two cable-television-network owners this week could help answer that question, by providing the first detailed look at how national cable advertising fared in 2009. Time Warner Inc., owner of TNT, TBS and CNN, reports earnings Wednesday, followed Thursday by Viacom, owner of MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central. Analysts will be trying to learn how briskly the networks are selling ads in the scatter market and how many advance ad commitments have been canceled. "We may have hit bottom. We're still waiting to see," ...
  • Bloomberg To Expand News Efforts Despite Downturn
    Bloomberg is planning a sustained investment in its news operations and tech, arguing that it can gain market share despite sweeping changes in financial markets. The current financial turmoil poses the biggest threat to sales of its data terminals in Bloomberg's 27-year history. Peter Grauer, chairman, says the company had seen a fall of just over 2.5% in Bloomberg terminal sales since November, and more cancellations are expected. The terminals account for about 85% of Bloomberg's revenues. However, Grauer says the company will add 950 new staff this year, including about 100 in its news operations, and ...
  • More Financial Magazines Likely to Fail
    Portfolio won't be the last major financial magazine to go out of business in the near future. The business model of these magazines can no longer can be sustained in a digital age, says columnist Jon Friedman. In a bear market, people prefer to sit on the sidelines, and investment advice isn't as important as it used to be. And if the readers aren't there, advertisers will put their advertising dollars somewhere else, such as cable television and the Internet. Which title will be next? Perhaps Fast Company or Time Inc.'s BusinessWeek. It is only a matter of ...
  • 'Glee' Pilot Doubles as a Marketing Tool
    In a first for the TV industry, a network is using a pilot for a show not as the beginning of a series, but as the start of a marketing campaign. Fox is bowing "Glee," a musical comedy series, on May 19, and will not air the second episode until late August or September. "We're looking at May 19 as the world's largest grassroots screening," says Joe Earley, Fox marketing executive. Fox hopes that those who watch the pilot will generate buzz about the show throughout the summer. To keep the buzz going, the network intends to make ...
  • NBC Plans For Leno To Boost News
    NBC says Jay Leno is its top marketing focus for 2009. Adam Stotsky, NBC marketing exec, hints that Leno will be treated as an accompaniment to the network's news programming. "You can start your day getting informed on topical issues with "Today," get deeper insight with "Nightly News" and Brian Williams, and then laugh about the news at 10 with Leno," he says. Leno's ability to break news--from Arnold Schwarzenegger announcing his candidacy for governor of California back in 2003, to President Obama's recent appearance to discuss the AIG bonus scandal--is being viewed seriously by rival cable news ...
  • Media Agencies Fret About Compensation
    It is getting more common for marketers to extend or delay their payments to media owners, resulting in media agencies holding the bag and incurring significant risks. Mainardo de Nardis, global CEO of OMD Global, says his biggest concern is "clients asking for unreasonable terms of business." Many agencies also concede privately that they're working for profit margins of less than 1%. In a session at last week's 2009 Festival of Media in Valencia, Spain, four global CEOs discussed compensation problems. Jack Klues of Vivaki said that media agencies need to reframe the client/agency relationship and compensation structure to ...
  • Discovery, Real Simple TV Venture DOA
    Discovery is pulling the plug on "Real Simple. Real Life," the lifestyle-makeover program it produced with Time Inc.'s Real Simple magazine. The series premiered last October amid heavy promotion by Time Warner Cable, Real Simple and TLC, with Saturn, Kraft and Sears among its sponsors. The show represented an unusual cross-platform sales effort between the magazine and cable network. The hope was to bring simplicity to harried women's lives in a reality format. But the show averaged only 347,000 total viewers for all 15 episodes. Maybe the target audience was just too busy. "Friday night is a ...
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