Skip to main content

The Week that Was


As expected, AOL Time Warner hired Jon Miller, 45, as chairman and CEO of the company's America Online subsidiary. Miller replaces Bob Pittman, who was shown the door in a management shakeup three weeks ago. Most recently at Boston-based equity firm General Catalyst Partners, Miller previously worked for Barry Diller, first as head of USA Broadcasting and then as head of USA's information and services group (including HSN, Expedia and some other on-line ventures). ...

ABC hired veteran marketing and promotion executive, Steve Sohmer, as executive VP, marketing, advertising and promotion. Sohmer formerly led promotional efforts at NBC when that network began its climb from the cellar to dominance in the '80s, and prior to that headed promotion for CBS. Most recently he had been president, marketing, for Paxson Communications.

ABC Washington correspondent Cokie Roberts revealed last week that she is being treated for breast cancer. It was detected in its early stages, and she expects to continue working and to cover the midterm elections. Roberts underwent a successful lumpectomy after her doctor detected a lump in her left breast in mid June; a subsequent mammogram revealed a small tumor. Roberts begins six months of chemotherapy Tuesday. …

Tweaking its executive lineup, Insight Communications promoted COO Kim D. Kelly to the post of president, making her the highest-ranking woman in the executive suites of cable operators. Kelly has been at the company for 12 years, first as CFO and since 1998 as COO. She takes one of the titles currently held by CEO Mike Willner, who remains the top executive but takes a new title, vice chairman. "We've always operated as partners; the new title reflects that," Willner said.


Nielsen Media Research reports that advertising spending for the first half of 2002 rose 2.3% over the same period last year, according to its ad-tracking service, Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Hispanic TV climbed almost 7%, partly due to the World Cup. Broadcast network TV, cable, and spot TV showed gains of 2-3%, while spot radio rose 1%. Ad spending by the top 10 advertisers generated $5.6 billion dollars through May 2002, 5.2% greater than the same period last year. Pfizer Inc. and The Procter & Gamble Co. increased spending 32% and 21% more, respectively.


The Yankees Entertainment Sports network (YES) is gearing up to add the NBA's New Jersey Nets to its programming lineup. The Nets are owned by the same YankeeNets consortium that controls the New York Yankees and the YES network. For now, that means Nets fans who are also Cablevision subscribers won't be able to watch the Eastern Conference champions in 73 YES televised games. The network is still mired in a carriage dispute with Cablevision. …

With every marquee sport on its schedule, ESPN is having to make some choices. The sports net is reducing its National Hockey League telecasts to 71 regular season games, down from 102 last year. Pro hockey will still have an exclusive night, Thursday, plus ESPN is adding Sunday afternoon; the NHL's old night, Wednesdays, will soon belong to the National Basketball Association, ESPN's latest acquisition. But ESPN said its NHL changes had nothing to do with ESPN's NBA deal.


Nickelodeon is buying Sesame Workshop's 50% interest in their jointly owned Noggin kids cable network. Terms were not disclosed. Sesame will redirect its resources to production. "Cable is our primary business and not necessarily theirs," said Nickelodeon President Herb Scannell, who by adding Noggin, is adding about 25 million subs, to his watch. …

Four weeks after MSNBC's Phil Donahue and CNN's Connie Chung started slugging it out at 8 p.m., Chung is pulling in twice as many viewers. Chung averaged 819,000 viewers from Aug. 5 to Aug. 7, compared to Donahue's 405, 000, according to Nielsen data. Household ratings tell a similar story: Chung averaged 0.8 last week and Donahue a 0.4. Donahue boasted early victories over Chung, but recent ratings have slipped.

Chung had a big night Aug. 6, with a 1.1 rating, compared to Donahue's 0.4. Of course, Fox News's Bill O'Reilly still beats both shows handily. …

Nielsen signed another Boston people-meter client, WGBH-TV, thPBS station in the market.

WGBH-TV joins WUNI(TV), the Univision affiliate, independent WNDS(TV), AT&T Broadband, New England Cable News and New England Sports Network as TV clients in the new service. The traditional affiliate stations have so far stayed away, fearful that the new service will show lower ratings for them.