Tough-minded Congress officials are making it tough on TV stations concerning the switch to digital from analog signals. The price tag now could be huge--especially for mandatory advertising messages to consumers.
With all the complaints U.S. customers have made against cable company fees over the last couple of decades, the chance to finally have some real competition for cable in local communities would seem to be an easy decision for them to make. But Verizon Communications' FiOS (fiber-optic television service) has been receiving fuzzy reception from hundreds of city officials.
Two recurring themes for network programming executives: They'd rather stay out of the way when it comes to TV producers' visions; and when you're down in the dumps, you can always take chances. The latter is obviously the song NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly plays in his head.
You may wonder if ESPN2's "Cold Pizza" ran a little too cold yesterday.The early morning sports-themed talk show apparently had some technical difficulties on Tuesday morning--and popped off the cable airwaves--for a longer than expected period of time. Apparently, the show just stayed off the air, at least in some markets.
For the big picture of the video-on-demand business, Rainbow Media Holdings is thinking small-time entertainment. Rainbow wants to create a business by releasing independent and small art-house films in theaters on the same day that they premiere on VOD services.
Comcast and Fox Broadcasting are moving closer, agreeing to let Fox's new successful prime-time drama "Prison Break" play a bit in the VOD space. Comcast hopes that networks like Fox will move forward once they realize the real promise of VOD. But networks are not there yet. There are real money and other business issues to tackle. For networks, that means not biting the hands that feed them, including that of their affiliates.
It's just what we need right now--a good old-fashioned cable programmer-satellite distributor fight over sports programming. EchoStar has thrown off the Comcast-owned Outdoor Life Network channel from its Dish Network because of OLN's NHL package of games.
There's good news for broadcast TV music shows with so-so ratings: they can help boost music sales."Rock Star: INXS"--the much-maligned summer show from Mark Burnett Productions--seems to have worked for the Australian band INXS. The band's new single debuted in 33rd place in the Billboard Pop Chart last week.
Buy some digital TV equipment and save the world? Maybe. In a weird association, Senator John McCain is demanding that U.S. TV consumers buy digital TV sets and equipment in order to underwrite a better communication system that will prevent disasters like the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and 9/11.
Broadcast networks have some choices to make money in this new media age. One is to maximize programming assets by offering more ways to extend their brands to alternative media--as Walt Disney-ABC did last week for Steve Jobs and Apple Computer by providing programming for Apple's new video-enabled iPod. Another might be to abandon certain programming dayparts.