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NETWORK SHUFFLE: NBC ISSUES "DIRECT CHALLENGE" TO FOX
Published November 30, 1994
NBC will file a petition with the FCC today "asserting that the stations that form the heart of Fox are illegally foreign- owned." In today's N.Y. TIMES, Bill Carter calls NBC's action a "direct challenge to the very existence of the Fox television network" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/30). NBC has sought FCC examination into Fox's role in the purchases of several local affiliates by SF Broadcasting, a joint venture between Fox Television Stations and Savoy Pictures Entertainment (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/30). DID ABC/CAP CITIES OPEN "PANDORA'S BOX"? Some Hollywood execs claimed that the deal between ABC/Cap Cities and the "Dream Team" of Spielberg/Geffen/Katzenberg "has opened a Pandora's Box ... by agreeing for the first time to share a portion of advertising revenue, predicting that other suppliers will demand the same terms." One studio exec: "Once a network starts doing something nobody has done before, it is going to make people want it in their deals." Other studio execs and producers complained that more network-developed entertainment programming will limit the time slots available for shows developed externally (Hall & Braxton, L.A. TIMES, 11/30). If the networks do begin sharing ad revenues, one possible response to any "bottom line" reductions would be to sell more 30-second spots (Kevin Goldman, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/30). WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL THE BUYOUT TALK? The talk of a reshuffling of the network landscape "has faded away faster than a low-rated television series," writes Alan Citron of the L.A. TIMES. Discussions about CBS and NBC, which were heated just weeks ago, have "fizzled" according to one would-be dealmaker. "Industry sources blame the rancid deal environment on everything from inflated network values to nettlesome government regulations and complex cross-ownerships." Ted Turner "remains in the game," although he is "frustrated" by complications involving his partners, Time Warner and TCI. Disney could make another network bid "if and when prices become more reasonable. And Viacom could always enter the fray" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 11/30). SWEEPS WINNERS: CBS leads the other three networks with only two nights remaining in the November sweeps, gaining an average rating/share of 13.1/21. For the season, CBS only trails ABC by one-tenth of a ratings point. But there is good news for others. ABC leads among adults 18-49. NBC leads Thursday night, the No. 1 evening for 18-49s. Fox has posted sweeps gains of 10% in 18-49s, 18-34s, 25-54s and a 7% gain in household ratings (Michelle Greppi, N.Y. POST, 11/30). Ad buyer Paul Schulman, who notes CBS won on the strength of specials, not its regular schedule: "If you ask me who really won the sweeps, I'd say Fox. They're up in every major category for regularly scheduled programming, and the other networks are down" (USA TODAY, 11/30). NFL'S FOURTH-QUARTER: As for NFL broadcasts, NBC retook the lead over Fox with an average of 12.0/28, topping Fox's 11.8/28. "This is NBC's first lead this late into the season since 1980, and its highest 12-week average since 1985" (Milton Kent, Baltimore SUN, 11/30). ABC's Monday Night 49ers-Saints game got a 16.3. "MNF's" 17.4 average is up 4% from '93 (Dave Dye, USA TODAY, 11/30).