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Physician, Injure Thyself

Cable is much, much better than satellite. You can get video-on-demand, you don't have to buy any equipment, you get a discount on high-speed Internet service, and rain won't wreak havoc with your signal. And who makes such an argument? Cablevision Systems, which also happens to own startup DBS satellite service, Voom (see page 10). The MSO uses lots of local ad avails for a polished campaign attacking DBS for all sorts of problems. A particularly choice part of the Web site for Cablevision's iO digital cable product has a table lining up all of DBS's deficiencies, none of which presumably will be resolved by switching to Voom. "When you look at the facts, it's easy to see why iO is a better choice than satellite." Can't wait for Voom's Oct. 15 launch.—J.M.H.

Make Way For Raymond

Word has it that King World will be taking the cast of network/syndication hit Everybody Loves Raymond to Las Vegas for the NATPE show in January. By the time NATPE rolls around, selling of the second syndicated cycle of Raymond will be well under way, says Roger King, CEO of CBS Enterprises and King World Productions.

Raymond went into syndication in fall 2001, but the show is possibly a bigger hit today than it was then, and it just came off its first Emmy win for Outstanding Comedy Series. Raymond is expected to reap at least $1 billion in revenues from its syndication sales and likely more once the show's run is complete.—P.A.

Nets Knocked

Martin Sorrell, CEO of the WPP Group, gave the TV networks something to think about last week in comments at a Goldman Sachs conference in New York. He said advertisers have to find an alternative to network advertising because it's simply becoming too costly.

At WPP, he explained, the "strategic objective" is to steer clients away from traditional advertising and into more non-traditional services, including direct marketing, events and sponsored programming. Currently, the split at his shop is roughly 50-50. Over time, he said, that will shift to about two-thirds/one-third in favor of non-traditional marketing.

He likened the situation to the auto industry: If the price of steel increased continuously at a rate faster than inflation (as network pricing has), then automakers would be forced to "use less steel and find alternatives." No different for advertisers, he said.—S.M.

Latinos Lacking

National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts Chairman Felix Sanchez, whose group received an early copy of CBS's corporate-responsibility annual report (see story, below), sees progress in network program diversity, but he also sees some "large gaps" in casting minorities in lead roles in comedies and dramas. Among the issues he has with recent choices: Karen Sisco (left) was spun off from a film with Jennifer Lopez, so that could have been an opportunity to cast a Latina in the lead role, says Sanchez; Coupling, he says, reflects the same kind of "exclusive" environment the notably un-diverse Friends exhibits; and, with the entire cast of The Practice being overhauled, "it's a shame they couldn't find one Latino lawyer to add to the mix."—J.E.

Backhaul Woes

Problems continue to plague the FCC's plan to take a portion of broadcasters' backhaul spectrum and reallocate it to satellite companies and other new users.

The Society of Broadcast Engineers says an FCC licensing database continues to show the wrong number of TV pick-up transmitters and other facilities using backhaul channels. The society wants the FCC to delay for another six months an Oct. 16 deadline for implementing initial procedures to make room for the new services and estimate any compensation for stations. The problems caused postponement of the original April 15 date. An earlier industry study showed that, for almost a third of the 21,033 backhaul channels, geographic coordinates for receive stations were either missing or inaccurate. Many of those problems persist, the society found in an August check of the database.

The backhaul reallocation covers channels in five spectrum bands. Portions of the takeback are also delayed by compensation disputes between broadcasters and new users obligated to pay for the move.—B.M.