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Fast Track

Parents Favor Violence Regulations

A new Kaiser Family Foundation survey found only 17% of parents were "very concerned" about the Janet Jackson incident, but a majority polled say they are more concerned about the amount of sex (60%) and violence (53%) their kids see on TV. Almost two-thirds (63%) favor some kind of regulation of sex and violence during early-evening hours when kids are most likely to watch. By contrast, a majority of the respondents (56%) opposed regulating "junk-food" ads on children's TV. Television was the medium of most concern to parents (34%), followed by the Internet (16%), movies (10%), music (7%); and videogames (5%).

Limited Debate

There will be three presidential debates—including one in town-hall format—and one vice presidential match-up. But that's it. The agreement, struck between the campaigns last week after months of negotiations, prevents either side from calling for more and both sides from appearing in any other on-air debate. That includes accepting any offers of free time from national or local TV or radio outlets for debates. The presidential debates will be Sept. 30, Oct. 8 and Oct. 13. The veep debate is Oct. 5.

Nick Soaks Up More SpongeBob

Things are going swimmingly for the seafaring gang on SpongeBob Square Pants, with Nickelodeon committing to another 20 episodes of the Emmy-nominated cartoon for 2005. The series has been the No. 1 children's show on broadcast and cable for three years.

Star and Stripes

Martha Stewart may star in a prime time network TV show after prison. Her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO), struck a consulting agreement with reality producer Mark Burnett. The move was prompted, in part, by Stewart's decision to start serving her sentence (forlying about a stock deal). That meant MSO was free to make long-term plans. Burnett will also reshape the Martha Stewart Living show, which is on hiatus while Stewart is gone. (She begins serving her sentence no later than Oct. 8.)

Late-Night Laughs

After its Dinner & a Movie showcase Friday nights, TBS is planning a comedy nightcap with the launch of a four-hour overnight block Oct. 1. Starting at 1:15 a.m., the rebranded "very funny" network will slate a "Too Funny To Sleep" block comprising three animated half-hours—Family Guy, Futurama and Baby Blues—plus sketch comedy Mr. Show. Each show will air twice during the block. The network had been scheduling movies in the Friday overnight hours.

Trio's Election-Night Fare

Gay Republicans, parking-lot polls and a South Park-eye-view of politics by way of six mentally and physically challenged reporters are on tap for Election Night. Trio, the pop-culture cable network, will offer three politically themed originals to counterprogram the coverage elsewhere. The most off-beat–sounding is How's Your News?: On the Campaign Trail, which features reporters such as Ronnie Simpson, "a large man with cerebral palsy whose undying love for soap opera stars and '70s-era celebrities colors each of his unique interviews." The special is from director Arthur Bradford, exec-produced by South Park co-creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker.

Imports Drive Ad Dollars

Automotive-spot TV ad spending was up 11% in the first half of 2004, primarily on the strength of import brands. By contrast, total auto ad spending (TV, radio, outdoor and print) was up only 5.2%. That's according to Television Bureau of Advertising analysis of data from CMR. Dragging down the spot average were the Big Three U.S. automakers (Ford, GM, DaimlerChrysler), whose spending was up only 2.3% to $1.165 billion. By contrast, spending by the 10 foreign automotive car makers was up by 23.4% to $998 million.


David Bartlett is the former chief of the RTNDA. (Market Focus, 9/20).