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Surviving sponsors

CBS is lining up fewer sponsors for the upcoming fifth edition of Survivor
(this one in Thailand), relying more on traditional ad buys in both the upfront and scatter markets to support the show.

So far, two and a half sponsors have signed on, the fewest of any show to date. The first two editions had nine sponsors each; the next two had five to six each. Those signed on for the Thailand installment, which debuts Sept. 19, are General Motors and Visa (full sponsorships) and Radio Shack, which describes its participation as a half sponsorship that does not include product placement. CBS doesn't preclude others, but sources there say the show is already pretty well sold. CBS is mum, but the sponsorship packages are said to be valued around $12 million, which is on a par with other Survivor

Too close for comfort?

It just might be that many viewers don't want to look back at the terrifying piece of history that was Sept. 11, 2001. Several weeks ago on its Web site, WPIX(TV) New York asked visitors, "How much of the extensive Sept. 11 anniversary coverage do you intend to watch?" Nearly 90% answered, "None of it." Only 7.5% said they'd watch "a lot of the coverage."

BROADCASTING & CABLE asked a similar question to its TV-savvy Web readers over the last few days, and they feel similarly. In our poll, 63% said upcoming coverage was "excessive." Only 18% said the time set aside for 9/11 commemoratives was "just right," and 16% said it was "insufficient." Neither poll is scientific, but the numbers suggest that 9/11 is a recent enough nightmare that many aren't ready to relive the day just yet.—P.J.B.

Cashing in on DBS

Yes, it's true: You can
make a buck from retransmission consent. Emmis Broadcasting has struck agreements with DirecTV for carriage of stations in Portland, Ore., Orlando, Fla., and New Orleans, under which DirecTV will pay the broadcaster cash. The companies have been negotiating for years, unable to agree on a rate until now. Emmis TV President Randy Bongarten confirmed the agreements but declined to discuss money, citing confidentiality clauses. Others say Emmis may be getting as much as 15 cents per local-TV subscriber per month (in the three markets). Meanwhile, Bongarten reports, EchoStar has taken a hard line against paying cash for new retrans deals. As a result, Emmis is denying the sat TV operator carriage of its Honolulu Fox affiliate. One Wall Street source says other station groups have struck similar deals in several of their markets.—S.M.

No-cut contract

The terms of Bud Paxson's planned sale of KPXF(TV) Fresno, Calif., have raised complaints in Washington. Media Access Project is asking the FCC to block the $35 million sale to Univision, claiming terms of the deal would violate the station's right to reject network programming. That's because the contract requires KPXF to carry Paxson-founded Worship Network for the next 50 years during the midnight-5 a.m. slot. Univision's agreement to carry the net "in perpetuity" without ability to review whether other programming is more appropriate violates the law, said MAP President Andrew Schwartzman.—B.M.

Bubba backlog

Clear Channel is volunteering to archive tapes of raunchy shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge, a.k.a. Todd Clem. Bubba's frequently over-the-top broadcasts on WXTV(FM) Tampa, Fla., have garnered fines for Clear Channel, and another indecency complaint is pending. Recognizing the FCC's "apparent concern" about Bubba's syndicated show, the company will keep tapes 30 days. But company critic Art Belendiuk says few indecency investigations launch within 30 days. "It's a completely meaningless gesture."—B.M.