One Tuesday, two big announcements about media mergers.
The WB and UPN are joining to form one TV network, “the CW.”
Also announced today, “Disney buys Pixar: House of Mouse is teaming up with Pixar in a $7.4 billion deal. Steve Jobs to become board member at Disney.”
The broadcast networks UPN and the WB will cease to exist this fall. Instead, they will be combined into one network “the CW.”
Reporter Matea Gold of the Los Angeles Times writes:
UPN and the WB Network will cease operations this fall to make way for a new broadcast network called The CW aimed at young, ethnic viewers, CBS Corp. and Warner Bros. Entertainment executives announced today.
Both companies will own 50% of the new venture, which will be carried by the Tribune Co. and the CBS UPN affiliates and offer 30 hours of programming a week, including shows like “Smallville,” “Everybody Hates Chris” and “Beauty and the Geek.”
The news about the launch of the new network — which will dramatically reshape the broadcast television landscape — was kept tightly under wraps until this morning, when reporters were summoned to a news conference at the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan.
“We’re coming here with a pretty historic announcement,” Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of the CBS Corp. said.
“The CW is going to be a real competitor, a destination for young audiences, diverse audiences and a real favorite with advertisers,” Moonves added. “The CW will be able to do something truly remarkable: program already hit shows every single day of the week, programs that consistently rank number one or number two in their time slots in the most coveted young adult demographic.”
More on who owns what in the media here.
Sinclair is a large TV company.
“Sinclair’s television group includes 20 FOX, 19 WB, 6 UPN, 8 ABC, 3 CBS, 4 NBC affiliates and 2 independent stations and reaches approximately 24% of all U.S. television households.” - dKospedia.org
They use their broadcast television stations to push a right-wing agenda.
From the Internet Movie Database:
Former and current news employees of Sinclair Broadcasting have described the owners’ campaign to court powerful conservative legislators who responded by clearing away legal obstacles and thereby allow Sinclair to become the largest owner of TV stations in America.
In interviews appearing in GQ magazine, the employees describe how they were subjected to political litmus tests before being hired, how they were ordered to report only “good news” about Iraq, how an interview with President Bush was delivered to stations with orders to replace the image of the interviewer with that of the local anchor, and how stations were required to run a nightly right-wing editorial delivered by Sinclair exec Mark Hyman that once accused the late Peter Jennings of “appearing to favor terrorists over America.” (One local producer said that when she used a graphic to identify Hyman’s commentary as an “editorial,” Sinclair officials ordered her to remove the offending word.)
Former Sinclair Reporter Jon Leiberman, who was fired for protesting against a planned anti-Kerry documentary last year (Leiberman says he voted for Bush in both presidential elections) said that Sinclair co-owner David Smith once told him his news reports ought “to look more like Mark’s editorials.” In addition to providing ideological aid, the GQ article alleges, Smith and his three brothers have reportedly contributed $2.3 million to the campaigns of key Republican Congressmen.
On broadcast radio, Rush Limbaugh promotes the Republicans and Al Franken promotes the Democrats.
There is a degree of symmetry in talk-radio, though Limbaugh has ten times the listeners of Franken (15 million to 1.5 million.)
But on broadcast television, there is no liberal equivalent to Mark Hyman’s conservative editorials, which are shown during local news broadcasts in many US cities (62 stations in 39 markets.)
The Fairness Act was struck down by courts in the 1980s, and vetoed by Ronald Reagan when Congress tried to restore it. There is no law directly requiring balance anymore, just a vague concept that broadcasters should use public airwaves for the public interest.
But when a conservative company is using its broadcast TV stations to editorialize for a right-wing agenda, and there is no equivalent on the left, something is wrong.
A group of Chicago media activists, Chicago Media Action, are angry at the Illinois media’s shoddy local election coverage during 2004. The CMA cites a study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs that points to the lack of election coverage as a “systematic negligence of a key obligation of public service.”
FCC rules require that in order for a broadcaster’s license to be renewed, the station must meet “public interest, convenience, or necessity.”
To hold broadcasters accountable for serving their public, Chicago Media Action is challenging the license renewals of nine Chicago TV stations. Broadcast licenses come up for renewal every eight years, and the licenses of all nine Chicago affiliates are nearing their expiration date.
For more information, visit Chicago Media Action.
PS: The license-challenge game was perfected by the Parents Television Council, who have used the tactic (thus far unsuccessfully) to ratchet up their attempts to sterilize broadcast television.
The National Association of Broadcasters, one of the most organized foes of increased indecency regulation, will soon have a new leader. Outgoing chairman Eddie Fritts will be replaced by former beer industry lobbyist David Rehr.
From Billboard Radio Monitor:
Rehr, who has been president and CEO of the National Beer Wholesalers Assn. since 1999, said, “What I do know is lobbying. I know how to make a message simple to communicate with a busy policymaker; I know how to form lasting relationships with members of Congress and ask for support when I need it. As beer wholesalers can tell you, I don’t take no for an answer when it comes to advocating on behalf of my association on Capitol Hill.”
Eddie Fritts has served the NAB for over 20 years, and is credited for turning it into one of the country’s most powerful lobbying vehicles.