Getting Out The Count
The six former partners in Voter News Service (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CNN and the Associated Press) have a new game plan for counting the vote and projecting winners for the 2004 elections. Sources say an agreement is in the hands of lawyers and, barring any problems, should be finalized shortly.
Under the new agreement, AP would provide the count. It has been doing one for years, both for its customers and more recently as a backup to VNS, which was shuttered last month after failing in two straight elections. A separate and independent entity operated by veteran researchers/pollsters Warren Mitofsky and Joseph Lenski would do exit polling. Mitofsky and Lenski provided such a service for CNN for the 2002 elections as a backup for VNS. It worked, and now they will provide an expanded service that all the major news organizations would subscribe to. —S.M.
And the Loser Is…
One thought inevitably occurs while surfing through the scores of channels on cable: Who's watching all this stuff? The answer, in many cases, is "practically nobody." Here are the 20 lowest-rated prime time programs on basic cable out of the 9,700 measured by Nielsen Media for the week ended Jan. 26, excluding networks with fewer than 30 million subs:
Univision's Entangling Alliances
Entravision appears willing to sell radio stations to ease the way for government approval of Univision's $3 billion acquisition of Hispanic Broadcasting.
Why would Entravision help Univision buy one of its Spanish-radio rivals? Because Entravision's TV business is more important. Sources say the Justice Department is balking at the merger because of Univision's 30% stake in Entravision, which competes with Hispanic in 11 radio markets. Justice is worried that the dual ties would be anticompetitive. To keep investments intact, Univision must persuade Entravision to sell radio stations in some of the markets. —B.M.
CNN Pep Talker
Now that CNN's line of succession is set, new chief Jim Walton is trying to rally the troops. He is said to have convened a series of town hall meetings with staffers in Atlanta, New York and Washington, fielding questions about the future of CNN and admitting that he doesn't have all the answers. One of the answers he didn't have was a response to the question of why Connie Chung's show still gets the plum 8 p.m. ET spot. Still, insiders say the arrival of Walton is improving morale, a boost it could use as Fox News Channel continues its ratings assault on CNN. —A.R.
NATPE 2004 Anyone?
NATPE 2003 just struck its tent, but already syndicators need to start thinking about their plans for next year. By next month, they need to have made reservations at the Venetian Hotel and Sands Convention Center complex in Las Vegas. Sony Pictures Television President Steve Mosko and NBC Enterprises President Ed Wilson have already said they plan to take space on the exhibit floor. Mosko says he won't be taking part in SNTA's syndication advertising "upfront" next month, although Sony will host a rival party at its Manhattan headquarters.
Twentieth Television President Bob Cook says the suites in New Orleans were so successful he isn't sure he wants to return to the floor. "We had such a great experience in the suites. Everybody was on time, and everybody showed up. It was like real adult business. When you are on the floor, it really gets frenetic. The booth gets jammed, it's hard to find people, and appointments get missed. But," he added, "on the floor, you do more hand-shaking, and there's better energy." —P.A.
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