T Dog’s Media Notepad: WLS-TV back on top at 10 p.m. in July

ABC 7Plus: WBBM-TV’s news ratings stink; Downtown Abbey heads into the final stretch; MundoFox to become MundoMax…eventually 

– ABC-owned WLS-TV reclaimed the top spot at 10 p.m. according to Nielsen, reclaiming the late news throne from NBC-owned WMAQ-TV. Despite the loss, WMAQ still gained viewers year-to-year at 10 in the all-important 25-54 demo. The biggest loser no doubt is CBS-owned WBBM, who not only finished third in late news, but in some news time periods, couldn’t muster more than a 0.1 rating in the 25-54 demo. Might be time for news director Jeff Kierman to board a plane out of town and let The Church Of Tisch find their next “victim” to run this woeful news operation. For the last few decades, WBBM’s news stood for World’s Biggest Bowel Movements when it came to ratings.

And it’s not just Chicago – for all the success CBS has in prime-time, some of their O&O and affiliate stations’ newscasts have not benefited from the halo effect. In Boston, CBS-owned WBZ-TV could place no better than third in most news time slots, ditto for sister station in Philadelphia, KYW-TV. CBS affiliates in Washington D.C., Atlanta, Cleveland, Seattle, Orlando, and Milwaukee have the same problem.

And CBS still doesn’t have a local news operation in Detroit.

Plus, CBS’ morning and network evening newscasts are still behind NBC and ABC.

So while CBS can brag about it’s prime-time and NFL successes, when it comes to news, it’s far from it. As a pundit once said, “CBS once stood for the Columbia Broadcast System. Today, the C stands for Cheap. We all know the BS stands for.” 

– MundoFox, the Spanish-language entertainment network has gone under a name change as a result of Fox selling its stake in the network – it is now known as MundoMax, now wholly owned by RCN. MundoMax has shut down its news department effective July 28, with forty employees getting pink-slipped.

With Fox selling its stake in MundoMax, there is no word if the network would continue on the subchannels of its owned-and-operated stations in Chicago (WPWR), New York (WWOR) and Washington (WDCA). Chicago viewers can still view MundoMax over WOCK-CD (which simulcasts over WPWR-Ch.50.3) and on cable. Adding to the confusion, despite the name change, the network is still referred to as MundoFox. Come on guys, get it together.

– Knock, Knock, no one’s home: Fox has pulled the plug on the inane Ryan Seacrest vehicle Knock Knock Live, the one hour Tuesday night show where one lucky person who answered a knock on their door on live TV was in for surprise. Despite quite a bit of chatter on Twitter – especially after Justin Bieber appeared on the show, Knock Knock Live only averaged a 0.5 rating among adults 18-49, ranking it as one of the least watched shows on television. Fox is replacing the show with sitcom repeats.

– TCA tidbit: PBS announced over the weekend that January 3 would be the premiere date for the sixth and final season of Downton Abbey. Production on the British series began wrapping up this week, and is airing on Britain’s ITV this fall before coming stateside. To kick off the new season Abbey will have a float  in the Tournament Of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif. on January 1.

Addressing the critics at the tour, PBS Chief Anne Kerger was grateful to have Downton Abbey on the schedule and is getting ready to launch a new Civil Rights-era drama called Mercy Street, but she pointed out PBS’ content budget is smaller than most other networks due to exclusively depending on corporate underwriting, viewer donations, and federal funding from the Corporation of Public Broadcasting.

Other panels during PBS’ two days at the tour included one for Norman Lear, who is still going strong at 93.