Fox dumps “Animation Domination HD”

FOX ADHDIn news first reported Thursday evening by Broadcasting & Cable, Fox has decided to pull the plug on its Animation Domination High Def (ADHD) Saturday night block, with the last airing scheduled for June 28. Despite the cancellation, the Fox ADHD programming initiative will continue, creating programs for digital platforms and incubating shows for primetime. In fact, Fox is bringing two animated series from the initiative into primetime, with the yet-unnamed shows scheduled to debut in June 2015.

The block was meant to be an answer to Turner Broadcasting’s long-running Adult Swim franchise, which attracts a large male audience.

Fox has no plans to give the late Saturday night hour back to affiliates; it has programmed the 10 p.m. (CT) hour since 1989, when it began airing Comic Strip Live! Repeats of various shows would air in the time slot in the interim.

Launched on July 27 of last year, ADHD began with two series: Axe Cop and High School, USA! Other series later joining the block included The Lucas Bros. and Golan.

Ratings for the block, targeted to men 18-34, were not available, but it was understood ADHD was performing poorly.

Fox’s attempt to compete with the edginess of cable got the network in hot water with not only with its own affiliates, but with decency groups. The Parents Television Council (PTC) released a statement late Thursday praising the move:

“We are pleased that Fox has canceled the broadcast component of ADHD, said Parents Television Council President Tim Winter in a statement. “This decision, albeit just a big first step, is a clear victory for parents and families. We will continue to hold Fox Broadcasting, and its advertisers, publicly accountable for any continued breach of the public trust.”

Meanwhile, the B&C article noted some affiliates fielded angry phone calls from irate viewers about ADHD‘s often-raunchy content, and the inability to attract decent advertising, especially in smaller, conservative markets.

College football overruns were also a major factor in the decision. ADHD was often delayed not only from pigskin, but also from affiliates’ local newscasts.

Locally, WFLD-TV never did pair Mancow Mashup with ADHD once Fox gave the 11 p.m. time slot back to affiliates to program, despite being compatible with one another. The empty slot was filled with a syndicated travel show instead. Mashup, which consists of best-of (if you can call it that) segments of Mancow Mueller’s WPWR morning show (and is on the fence for renewal), still airs at 11:30 p.m.

Advertising, Broadcast Networks, Local TV (Chicago), Television

Grab Bag: “The Game” loses in its first PPM matchup

The Game





Plus: Divorce Court to stick around; and a new first-run syndicated drama on tap

- Nielsen Radio’s March PPM ratings period just concluded and it shows the new sports radio talker WGWG-FM, or The Game stalled at the starting gate. The station tied for 37th place overall with a measly 0.3 rating, far behind competitors WSCR (tied for 19th with a 2.0) and WMVP (22nd with a 1.7).

Meanwhile, Clear Channel’s WVAZ-FM (V103) remained on top, followed by WBBM-AM and WTMX. Of note was fourth-ranked WKSC-FM (Kiss) blowing out rival tenth-ranked WBBM-FM by a wide margin. Can’t remember the last time B96 was this far behind a rival.

Also of note was the consent growth of Cumulus/Merlin’s alt-rock WKQX, whose rating on the 101.1 frequency has grown an amazing 77 percent since the Holiday book, tying sister station WLUP for twelfth place. WKQX is now attracting more listeners than it did in July 2011, in its final Emmis days. Indeed, the Alternative Rock format has made a strong comeback in Chicago.

Another surprise saw WLS-AM fall behind WPWX (Power 92), of all stations.

Clear Channel’s WLTW and KIIS topped the New York and Los Angeles ratings charts respectively, giving the radio giant overall victories in the top three markets.

- While the first-run syndicated action hour genre – popular in an age before Netflix and Hulu – isn’t returning in full force anytime soon, there is a new drama coming down the pikes for this fall – Rohrs Entertainment Group announced the launch of The Pinkertons, a new show set in the 1850s about a detective agency using the latest technological advances (at the time), including surveillance, mug shots, and undercover work.

Rohrs has cleared The Pinkertons in 70 percent of the U.S., including WCIU here in Chicago and WPIX in New York.

Currently, only one other action hour (SAF 3) is on the air in first-run syndication. Is it not known if the series, which airs at 11 p.m. Saturday nights over WGN-TV, is coming back next season. Before that, local stations aired Disney/ABC’s Legend Of The Seeker, which ran in first-run for two years (2008-10.)

- Thanks to a recent ratings surge, you won’t be seeing Divorce Court leaving the airwaves anytime soon. Twentieth Television recently granted a three-year renewal for the longtime daytime franchise, with the most current incarnation now in its fifteenth season. The series hit a four-season ratings high point in the most recent sweep (1.8 household, live-plus-same day) and is averaging a 1.6 HH rating this year – not bad for a show in year fifteen.

Divorce also benefited from seeing some time periods open up thanks to the recent demise of fellow court show Judge Alex and freshman talker Bethenny, which ran on many of the same outlets Divorce did.

This version of Divorce Court has now outlasted the original (1957-69) and the 1985-91 version of the series, presided by former California Supreme Court Judge William Keene, who is best known for presiding over the Charles Manson murder trial. Unlike the two previous versions of the show (which everything but the verdict were scripted and based on real-life cases), today’s Divorce Court features real couples and is unscripted. With 34 seasons on the books overall, Divorce Court is TV’s longest-running court show of all time.

- If you haven’t seen last Monday’s Dallas mid-season finale, then stop reading now. In this so-called “Golden Era Of Drama”, buzzworthy series such as The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Game Of Thrones and others have served up cliffhangers that are original and different – even if some viewers disagree. So what did the revival of Dallas serve up for its mid-season finale? Another Southfork fire, similar to the original series’ season six’s cliffhanger in May 1983 – which itself was similar to a Dynasty cliffhanger where Krystle and Alexis were… you guessed it, trapped in a fire. And both cliffhangers aired within days of one another.

And oh yeah, Sue Ellen is drinking again – just like in… oh, never mind.

Yeah, I can totally see this happening:




Cable, Chicago Media, Radio, Syndication, Television , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Heeeeere’s Stephen!

SC 1

Goodbye Comedy Central, Hello Church Of Tisch – Colbert is CBS’ new late-night host

It’s probably not a surprise who is replacing David Letterman, but a surprise it came this quickly.

CBS announced last Thursday the hiring of Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report as their new 10:35 p.m. guy to replace a retiring David Letterman, who is exiting after his contract expires in 2015. Letterman has hosted Late Show since August 30, 1993.

No firm date has been set for Colbert’s debut, but logic would likely dictate a late summer start, just before the 2015-16 season begins. There’s no set format or title (Letterman owns the Late Show name, so it may or may not be named Late Show with Stephen Colbert.) Colbert would be competing directly with Jimmy Kimmel Live on ABC and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on NBC.

Colbert has no plans to import his “Stephen Colbert” character from The Colbert Report to his new CBS late night show, effectively retiring the faux conservative blowhard, who was seen as a parody of Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly.

Meanwhile, Comedy Central now has to look for a new show to replace Colbert, which airs after The Daily Show.

It’s been a long journey for South Carolina-born Colbert, who achieved comedy stardom through the doors of Second City right here in Chicago, starting off selling tickets at their box office to a regular performer at the venue. Colbert left Second City to star in Comedy Central’s Exit 57 and later in Strangers With Candy, both with Second City alum Amy Sedaris.

As an unknown, Colbert also appeared on a 1990 episode of Wild Chicago.

Colbert went on to The Daily Show, which spun off The Colbert Report in October 2005, with Stephen Colbert parodying a conservative talk show host. The show became a surprise ratings and critical hit, especially among adults 18-34 and adults 18-49.

SC 2How ingrained The Colbert Report has become in journalism? When Colbert took a playful shot at Chicago last year, WFLD spent (or wasted) a whole segment of one of its woeful newscasts analyzing his comments (obviously giving Colbert more material to work with.)

In the awards department, Colbert hasn’t done too shabbily: nominated for seven Primetime Awards and two TCA Awards; winners of two Peabody Awards (2008, 2012), a Primetime Emmy For Outstanding Writing (2010); and two Emmy wins in 2013.

The real question now is, can Colbert successfully succeed Letterman? Yours truly was hoping Colbert would transport his brilliant character to his CBS show. He still might do so in some capacity, but making his program into another me-too talk show – in other words, a format similar to the other late night shows – would be a mistake. If CBS wants to make a statement and do something different with Colbert – now is the time.

Broadcast Networks, Television , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

FX networks unveils “Simpsons” plans

Come up with your own caption, dammit.

Come up with your own caption, dammit.










FX Networks, the group who purchased the exclusive rerun cable rights to The Simpsons for new channel FXX for close to a billion dollars last fall,  has made public their plans on how to best run 552 episodes of the Fox animated classic, which was reported by Broadcasting & Cable in Monday’s editions.

Unfortunately, the Simpsons article was under a paywall, meaning only subscribers with access could read it.

But never fear! T Dog Media is here and obtained a copy of the article, and all the juicy details with it. Here’s what’s on tap:

- FXX plans to launch The Simpsons on Aug. 21 with all 552 epiosdes shown in chronological order through Labor Day. The marathon also includes the 2007 Simpsons Movie, which has never been seen in syndication.

-  In news likely to make some of the show’s fans unhappy, FXX plans to run post-season 16 episodes in primetime (2005 to the present), while pre-season 16 episodes (1989-2005) would run in yet-to-be determined early fringe, prime access, and late fringe time slots. Many fans of the show prefer the “classic era” episodes of The Simpsons to the more recent ones.

But there is good news for “classic era” fans of the show: the series’ first twenty seasons are being remastered and color corrected into a 16×9 high definition widescreen format.

FXX plans to program 12 out of the 22 hours on its primetime schedule to run Homer and Co, meaning 24 episodes a week.

- FXX also plans to air eight episodes of Simpsons episodes on Sundays, (roughly from 3 to 7 p.m.), leading up to the new episode airing on Fox. The episode airing on Fox would be tied to the reruns – so for example, if the new Fox episode is about Mr. Burns, FXX would air the eight best episode with Homer’s boss as central to the storyline.

- Advertisers are the centerpiece of FXX’s airings of The Simpsons, and is planning to cater to their every whim. After all, off-network episodes of the show have not been available to national advertisers since 1999, when the minute of barter time carved out for them in syndication went away.

One of the proposals under consideration is an advertiser sponsoring “theme weeks”, or a “theme night”. For example, since The Simpsons have traveled a lot over their 25-year run, an advertiser could sponsor a week of their road adventures. Gatorade could sponsor a night of sports-themed episodes. Hallmark could sponsor a week or a night of episodes where Homer has pissed off Marge (and believe me, there have been many.) And so on.

- Though FXX won’t have any problem doing so, the net is looking for advertisers to sponsor its marathon to launch the series and to strike multi-year deala for the digital content, which includes streaming of episodes, which FXX has exclusive rights to.

- Regardless of what seasons FXX run, the sale of The Simpsons is good news for fans of the show (for those who can at least get FXX) whose seen local syndicated airings either cut back or eliminated all together. In Chicago recently, My50 eliminated the 9 p.m. weeknight double-run and weekend runs of the series due to low ratings and is only airing the series at 10 p.m. weeknights. (The 6 p.m. airing on sister station WFLD remains.)

Cable, Syndication, Television , , , ,

Grab Bag: CBS 2′s Jay Levine attacked in a live shot


(Editor’s note: under circumstances not under my control, the videos for Jay Levine’s story have since been removed. You’ll just have to take my word for it. – T.H.)

- In the latest incident of TV news personnel being attacked on (or off camera), WBBM-TV’s Jay Levine was attacked by a crazed protester in a live shot outside a restaurant at 5 p.m. Wednesday where President Obama was holding a fundraiser by a protester:

The incident was also captured during a live shot at WMAQ-TV. Mary Ann Ahern was standing by only yards away when the attack happened. Here is a complication video is from WIND-AM host Joe Walsh’s personal YouTube page (Editor’s Note: the video has since been removed.)

No injuries occurred during the scuffle. The protester was quickly tackled by a CBS 2 staffer, identified as Dennis Williams.

This latest incident reflects a growing trend of news personnel and reporters attacked on the job. In November 2012, a news crew from KPIX-TV in San Francisco were robbed of camera equipment across the bay in Oakland right after a live report concluded. The robbery and assault is part of a growing problem in the Bay Area involving the local media, who had laptops, cameras and tripods stolen.

Other incidents have taken place in Washington D.C, where a WUSA-TV reporter and news crew were attacked in the southeastern part of the city; in Providence where a woman sic dogs on a WLNE-TV news crew; and twice in the Memphis area: where a city worker shoved a WPTY (now WATN) reporter and a gun was pulled on a WREG reporter in Arkansas.

As for Jay Levine, he remarked after the attack:

Jay Levine is one tough S.O.B., I’ll tell you what.

- Chicago Public Media this week announced a new boss: meet Gina Sheikholeslami (you try pronouncing the name), a media executive who hails from McLean, Va. and was VP/GM of the Washington Post from 2002-10. She also worked in the media departments for Everyday Health and CondeNast. She succeeds Tony Malatia in the role, who was forced out last year.

Sheikholeslami was one of five finalists in the running – but only one of them was from Chicago, as Robert Feder noted in his column as Sheikholeslami has no radio experience and no previous ties to the Windy City. But in the same column came this rather eye-popping quote from Steve Baird, one of the CPM board members who chose Sheikholeslami: “The problem with Chicago is that if you’re looking for media skills, digital skills and so forth in Chicago, that’s a very limited subset,” Baird told Feder on Wednesday. “Actually, of all the criteria, (being from) Chicago was the least important to the board. We have people here who know Chicago. That’s a learnable skill. Being digital savvy or having media experience is not necessarily a learnable skill.”

Interesting for Baird to point out, but you wonder how Chicagoans – especially our so called CEOs of tomorrow – are to acquire these skills since Mayor Rahm Emanuel is busy closing public schools? In a city where leaders think education obviously isn’t a priority, Baird’s comments shouldn’t surprise anyone, as stupid and ignorant as they are given Baird and other Chicago “movers and shakers” haven’t done a damn thing to address the issue.

- Can you believe there are guests that are even too hot for Maury’s shows? – and this isn’t an April Fools joke. A Chicago couple booked to appear on the daytime talk show Wednesday in Stamford, Conn., were involved in a fight at a hotel in nearby Norwalk, Conn. the night before according to the Chicago Sun-Times. When police arrived, they found a broken vase and a damaged table.

Both John Cowley, 46 and Shante Shavonne-McGhee Brown, 25, were arrested and charged with disorderly misconduct and criminal mischief, and both were scheduled to appear at the Maury taping Wednesday morning. According to the police report, McGhee-Brown was “upset over her finding out her boyfriend [Cowley] was sleeping with her mother.”

A Maury spokesperson said the couple did not appear on the show, and are not likely to.

Maury is one of four conflict talk shows who tapes in Stamford, including Jerry Springer, Steve Wilkos, (both use to tape in Chicago) and Trisha, which was canceled last week, along with another conflict talker, Los Angeles-based The Test. With the exception of Maury, the conflict talker genre is losing ground to conflict reality shows, such as Love and Hip-Hop and The Real Housewives.

What an improvement.

Quick Hits and Bits

- Chicago’s Fox duopoly of WFLD and WPWR have picked up Internet-clip show Right This Minute from MGM Television beginning in September in a deal that includes nine other Fox-owned markets. Currently, Minute airs in a 12:30 a.m. slot on The U Too (WCIU, Ch. 26.2.)

- David Letterman announced his retirement Thursday, ending his CBS run in 2015 after 22 years at the network and 33 years in late-night overall.

- Tribune, owner of the Hispanic-targeted newspaper Hoy, is launching a new newscast on MundoFox 13 (known as WOCK-CD 13.1.) Nicole Suarez, whose appeared on reality/competition series Nuestra Belleza Latina and has done on-air and producing work for Univision’s WGBO.

- More WOCK news: The low-power channel has picked up music video channel The Cool TV for one of its subchannels.

- WGN Radio is adding a live video stream to Steve Cochran’s morning show, starting Tuesday. Not sure what the point is – he isn’t a Supermodel, that’s for sure.



“How I Met Your Mother” ends on a high note (in ratings)

Neil Patrick Harris: We're No. 1. At least for one night only.

Neil Patrick Harris: We’re No. 1. At least for one night only.

Long-running sitcom How I Met Your Mother ended its nine-year run on CBS on a high note, scoring its highest numbers ever in total viewers and in key demos. Monday night’s one-hour sendoff drew 12.9 viewers and a 5.3 rating in the adult 18-49 (HIMYM generally averages around a 3.)

While these numbers would have Barney Stinson shouting “Awesome” and running around giving high-fives to everyone in sight, not everyone is celebrating – many fans of the show were irate at how the finale was handled, flooding social media, comment sections, and message boards with disapproval.

And here comes the Aunt Robin jokes. Well, some of them are:

Even though yours truly never watched the show, there is one question I can answer about it: someone asked if the finale would have an effect on reruns of the show. Given Mother has struggled since entering off-net syndication in 2010 – switching cable nets (Lifetime to FX) in the second year of its deal and its already subpar performance on local stations, the wobbly finale won’t help.

For the week ending March 23, Mother (from Twentieth Television) earned a 1.9 live-plus same day rating, down 5 percent from the previous week and tied for fifth among off-network sitcoms.

WPWR-TV here in Chicago upgraded Mother to 9 p.m. just this past week, moving from 10 p.m. – odd move since Mother has been a ratings dud in the Chicago market.

Broadcast Networks, Syndication, Television , , , , ,

“Trisha”, “The Test” get the ax

trishaCBS Television’s Serch also sacked

In a rather odd coincidence, two different syndicators announced cancellations of their respective daytime talk shows in the same genre on the same day.

Meanwhile, a proposed third show in the same genre is not going forward.

NBC Universal announced Tuesday afternoon it was cancelling Trisha Goodaard’s talk show after two seasons. That was followed up shortly by CBS Television Distribution’s cancellation of The Test. Hosted by comedian Kirk Fox (who half the time looked like he wanted to be elsewhere), The Test was an ill-conceived show which tested individuals on how truthful they are.

While CBS would not comment on The Test, NBCUniversal did release a statement, thanking Ms. Goodard and her staff for the hard work they put in.

Both programs were tied for last place among syndicated talk shows with a 0.4 rating in the key 25-54 female demographic. Neither show was able to improve from its lead-in or match year-ago time period numbers.

In Chicago, The Test aired aired weekdays over WGN-TV at 3 p.m. Trisha aired weekdays over WCIU at 9 a.m. and on The U Too at Noon.

Meanwhile, CBS has also decided not to go forward with Serch, a talk show hosted by one-half of the rap duo 3rd Bass. Serch performed poorly in its test run last January on a few Tribune stations, which was cut from four weeks to three. CBS also declined to comment on Serch.

Serch, The Test, and Trisha were each hoping to put some life in the moribund conflict-talker genre, a format pioneered by Geraldo Rivera and Morton Downey Jr. in the late 1980′s, and taken to new heights in the 1990s by Jerry Springer, whose chair-throwing brawlfest set daytime rating records for stations. But the genre in daytime has lost steam in the last decade as viewers of conflict-type programming have flocked to prime-time reality offerings on cable, offering the same kind of elements (just last week, Real Housewives of Atlanta castmates Kenya Moore and Porsha Williams were reportedly involved in a major physical fight at a “reunion” taping of the show – no word if anyone was hit by a chair.)

Conflict-talkers are an even harder sell now, as many stations prefer to air advertiser-friendly programming as opposed to the baby-mama-drama stuff. Last season saw the cancellation of another conflict-talker, The Jeremy Kyle Show, after two seasons (ironically, Jeremy Kyle – after Jerry Springer served as interim host – succeeded Trisha Goodard on British broadcaster ITV after she left for a rival show on Channel Five.)

The departure of Trisha and The Test brings the number of daytime talk shows canceled this season to four. Bethenny was axed in February, while sophomore talker Katie was bounced after two seasons in December.

Syndication, Television

WGN-TV looks Easterly for new GM hire

WGN-TVA man named Easterly is heading west to become WGN-TV’s new general manager.

Tribune Broadcasting announced Monday the hiring of Greg Easterly as president and general manager of WGN-TV, moving over from the same capacity at WJW-TV in Cleveland effective April 14.

Easterly is a seventeen-year veteran of the Cleveland Fox affiliate, with a news background. He spent the first ten years at WJW as news director. Historically the market’s news leader, Easterly has helped keep WJW at or near the top of the ratings heap for the last seven years as president and GM (and did so without gimmicks such as…The Puppet’s Court,  which one local station did to illustrate the Jimmy Dimora trial.)

Since ending its 39-year affiliation with CBS in September 1994 to join Fox (as part of the Fox-New World megadeal, in which WJW was owned by the latter), the station has expanded its local news and entertainment programming – and more so under Easterly, currently programming 71 hours a week – the most local output of any local station in Cleveland. WJW and WGN became sister stations last fall when Tribune bought Local TV, WJW’s previous owner.

Easterly is joining a station who is riding a bit of a hot streak in news – WGN’s buzzworthy morning show tops the market from 6-9 a.m. in the key 25-54 demo. Meanwhile, its 9 p.m. newscast is not only beating rival WFLD, but often draws more viewers locally than several prime-time network dramas.

Easterly succeeds Marty Wilke, who left to fill the same cacapity at WBBM-TV eighteen months ago. While Easterly will be running WGN-TV and CLTV, he will not be running WGN America – Matt Cherniss was tapped to run the Tribune “superstation” a few months ago.

Among the first order of business for Mr. Easterly: Trying to keep the Chicago Cubs in the WGN-TV fold after this season, given the team’s long-term contract with the stations expires in September.

Chicago Media, Local TV (Chicago), Local TV (Outside Chicago), Television , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Local ratings box: WLS-TV returns to dominance at 10

- WLS-TV returns to the top of the late news heap

American Idol continues to slide

With the Olympics over and done with, normal viewing patterns have resumed – good news for ABC-owned WLS-TV, which saw its 10 p.m. news dominance temporarily usurped by NBC-owned WMAQ.

In March, WLS returned to the top spot at 10 with a 9.0 household rating, ahead of WMAQ’s 6.7, falling into second place. WMAQ can take solace in the fact that lead-out The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon is Chicago’s top-rated late-night talk show, beating Jimmy Kimmel.

Coming in an impressive third (in late news) was WGN’s 9 p.m. newscast with a 5.1 household rating, ahead of CBS-owned WBBM-TV’s 4.3 at 10 p.m. and beat WFLD-TV’s newscast head to head (2.6).

Last week, Robert Feder reported WFLD hired a new assistant news director: Jill Manuel from Scripps’ ABC affiliate WEWS in Cleveland. She previously had a stint at CLTV as news director from 2005-08.

Also at 9 p.m. – On Thursday nights – is CNN’s Chicagoland, the much-talked about docuseries produced by Robert Redford and Marc Levin. Chicagoland continues to lose steam locally, earning a series-low 1.5 household rating for its most recent airing, down 6 percent from the previous week. The fourth episode wasn’t as critically acclaimed as the first three, as Rick Kogan of the Chicago Tribune criticized it for its lack of balance when it came to Mayor Rahm Emanuel (in other words, there wasn’t enough criticism.)

Yours truly has only watched the first two eps of Chicagoland thus far, with the next two on DVR. Unfortunately, Chicagoland isn’t exactly must-watch-right-now TV.

Nationally, NBC, ABC, and Fox are battling to stay out of fourth place in the post-Sochi era. Despite TV Guide declaring that new judge Harry Connick Jr. “saving” American Idol, Thursday night’s edition posted a series-low 1.9 adult 18-49 – once unthinkable. Idol is the only music-competition show left on Fox, following The X Factor’s cancellation earlier this year.

Speaking of cancellations, ABC earlier canceled Mind Games and Once Upon A Time: Wonderland.

The local ratings news were first reported Friday by Lewis Lazare of Chicago Business Journal.


English-language programming returns to WGBO…somewhat

getFor the first time in twenty years, WGBO-TV is once again airing English-language programming.

Well, somewhat.

Spanish-language WGBO and other Univision-owned stations agreed a few months ago to carry a new English-language – yes, English-language digital subchannel network called Get TV from Sony Pictures Television, mainly featuring pre-1970 classic films from the Columbia Pictures Library, which Sony owns. Classic movies featured on the network include Mr. Deeds Goes To Town, The Producers (1968), and Who’s Minding The Mint?

The diginet competes with the new Movies! network from Fox Television Stations and Weigel Broadcasting, and Tribune/MGM’s This TV, which launched in 2008.

Univision – a major Spanish-language broadcaster in the U.S. – agreed to carry the English-language network on its subchannels of Univision and Telefutura and was launched on February 3. The move is a part of a wider effort on Univision’s part to expand its reach to non-Spanish speaking audiences.

Recently, Univision struck a deal with African-American English-language diginet Bounce to double the number of markets the company carries the channel in from six to twelve. Beginning in 2015, Bounce will be carried on Univision’s digital subchannels in New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas, moving from Fox-owned My Network TV stations in those markets (the Univision deal does not include Chicago since Bounce is carried on one of WCIU’s digital subchannels in a long-term deal.)

Univision also owns a English-language radio station: Rhythmic Contemporary KBBT-FM in San Antonio (The Beat, 98.5 FM), which it launched in 2000.

In Chicago, Get TV is currently airing on WGBO-Channel 66.2, with Univision network programming remaining – in Spanish, of course – on 66.1. No cable or satellite deals have been struck to carry Get TV as of yet.

WGBO_1987As many of you know, WGBO (WFBN-TV before January 1986) was a very low-rated English-language independent station, which carried off-network and syndicated fare from 1984 to 1994. Known as “Super 66″, the station was best known for carrying reruns of Perry Mason, The Rifleman, Mayberry R.F.D., Gunsmoke, Mama’s Family, and tons of B-level movies and infomercials almost ad nauseam (by 1992 or so, paid programming would make up nearly a third of WGBO’s daily schedule.)

WGBO was not syndicators’ first stop when it came to pitching and selling syndicated fare in the nation’s third-largest market; in fact, not-so “Super 66″ was often last.

WGBO owner Grant Broadcasting went bankrupt in late 1986 and went into receivership in 1989, with Combined Broadcasting taking over operations. Univision bought WGBO in 1994 from Univision and flipped it to Spanish-language programming on December 31, after its part-time contract with WCIU expired.

The last time any English-language program aired over WGBO were weekly syndicated reruns of Beverly Hills, 90210 in the first few weeks of 1995. 90210 reruns would eventually move to CBS’ WBBM-TV.

Below: here’s a weatherbreak from WGBO in 1990:

Chicago Media, Television , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Playing media catch-up

So..this happened while I was gone for the week.

So..this happened while I was gone for the week.

Man, how long has it been since yours truly has written a post around here? Well, this is what happens when you get sick and have Writer’s Block at the same time (or, yours truly has just been lazy.) Anyway, yours truly is revved up (or more like riled up) and ready to go – here are some thoughts on some recent media news stories:

- Chicago TV has reached a new low – again. On Thursday, WFLD aired a rather controversial segment during its 9 a.m. newscast for some diet pill – which it paid WFLD to get on the show (known as pay-to-play), according to a report by Robert Feder. A few days earlier, WGN-TV pre-empted the 9:30 a.m. portion of its morning newscast to air a Get Covered Illinois infomercial, selling President Obama’s health care plan.

As you know, I’ve always been in the corner of broadcasters. But stuff like this makes it harder and harder to defend these guys. With the FCC looking to crack down on JSA/SSA agreements and looking to take away more spectrum, this is not the time for pulling head-scathing stunts like this. But maybe a little head-cracking is what these broadcasters need. Then again, with the Illinois Government the one buying the WGN time for Get Covered Illinois….

- Congrats to Sarah Michelle Gellar and others who canceled their Vogue magazine subscription after the editors decided to put Kim Kardashian on the cover with the latest embarrassment to come from our town, Kanye West.

There was a backlash from readers, but of course, people who whore themselves out to Big Media like Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour don’t care about you or me. In fact, it’s Big Media who is doing nothing but foisting Kim and Kanye on us 24/7 (maybe that’s why there’s backlash – we’re sick of them.)

More over, I was surprised the Vogue shoot wasn’t photobombed by fellow Chicago embarrassments Jim Belushi and Jenny McCarthy – she could’ve given Kim some advice on what to do when her child gets sick – telling Kim vaccinations really turn kids into vampires, while Belushi could’ve given West tips on how to act like more of an arrogant ass.

- The latest Nielsen Audio report has showed Tribune Broadcasting’s The Game (or WGWG-LP) stalled at the starting gate , ranking 30th overall, according to one local media website. And it’ll likely stay at the starting gate with boneheaded moves like this: The Game hired former Chicago Bears GM Jerry Angelo as a “football expert” to contribute to the Kap (David Kaplan) and Haugh (David Haugh) show on Wednesday mornings.

During his tenure as Bears GM, Angelo presided over a team that made the playoffs only three times, including a Super Bowl appearance in 2007. Yep, that qualifies him to be an “expert”.

If you think Angelo is going to give any credit to his former employer, think again: according to a local media website, Angelo is still seething over his 2012 firing by the Bears. Recently, Angelo ripped into QB Jay Cutler and during his first radio appearance, praised many teams and players throughout the NFL – with the exception of the Bears.

In fact, Angelo joins a long list of distractors critical of the day-to-day management of the team – rivaling perennial screw-ups the Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns, and Detroit Lions in the same regard – including former Bear Brian Urleacher, various ESPN personnel, and even some in the local sports media.

If Angelo thinks working for the Bears was a joke, then he’ll soon find being employed by Chicago media is much worse (see first story above.) Besides, it’s not like the McCaskeys and Jimmy de Castro share the same mindset…

- After jumping to a 2.6 rating locally for its second episode, CNN’s new Chicagoland documentary plunged 38 percent in its third week on the air to a 1.6 rating Thursday night, according to Lewis Lazare at Chicago Business Journal. In addition to facing Scandal, Chicagoland also had to face NCAA Basketball Tournament coverage over various channels Thursday night, and competing with missing Malaysian plane coverage on other cable news channels didn’t help either – nationally, Chicagoland dropped to a series-low 172,000 viewers, down 54 percent from its own Malaysian missing plane coverage lead-in.

Despite the predictable structure of Chicagoland, the series has created a heroine in Elizabeth Dozier, the principal of beleaguered Fenger high school – a positive role model lacking in many communities, as opposed to the two back-stabbing sellouts pictured above.

- Finally, ending with something on a positive note: and it’s from The CW! The network new 100 opened with a 0.9/3 among adults 18-49 and 2.73 million viewers. While that may not seem like much, the series was up 13 percent from its Arrow lead-in and was the highest-rated time period premiere since Life Unexpected in 2010. In addition, 100 improved on The Tomorrow People’s time period share in 18-49 by 133 percent and 114 percent in total viewers.

Tomorrow People has since moved to Monday, where the chances of surviving through …. um, tomorrow is getting less and less.

Broadcast Networks, Cable, Chicago Media, Radio, Sports, Television

Grab Bag: CBS in lead to snare Cubs’ radio rights

The Cubs may have a new radio home in 2015.

The Cubs may have a new radio home in 2015.


* As first reported by Ed Sherman in Wednesday’s Chicago Tribune, CBS Corp. is the leading candidate to land the radio rights to the Chicago Cubs in 2015 and beyond. The most likely destination would be WBBM-AM, who already hold rights to the Chicago Bears and whose sports station (WSCR) holds rights to the Chicago White Sox.

Current rights-holder WGN-AM has been losing money on their current contract, with the team losing nearly 200 games over the last two years, and their prospects for this year doesn’t look any better. WGN is entering its 90th year of carrying Cubs baseball.

As for the television side (whose WGN-TV contract is also up this fall), there has been no word on where those 67 games would end up.

* In other local sports media news, the Chicago Bulls are actually performing well on the court without Derrick Rose, but surprisingly, not in the ratings. According to Sports Media Watch, the Bulls once again trailed the Chicago Blackhawks in the ratings on Comcast SportsNet, with a 2.9 rating, compared to a 4.4 for the Hawks. Despite a competitive team without their superstar for the second season in the row, the Bulls are down 9 percent from last year.

The Blackhawks are also down from last year’s numbers, when they were on a red hot-unbeaten streak. The hockey team is down 19 percent from 2013.

While Rose’s absence has a lot to do with the Bulls’ ratings decline, you could also blame the 2014 Winter Olympics, which siphoned off casual viewers. The Olympics also disrupted the Hawks’ season, as the NHL went on a two-and-a-half week break so their players can participate in the games.

* Get ready for more Sheldon in your life… CBS on Wednesday announced a three-year renewal for its Thursday night hit The Big Bang Theory, which takes the sitcom through the 2017 season. The deal however, does not include the actors, who have yet to negotiate with CBS and Warner Bros. on their salaries. Big Bang Theory is one of twenty (!) CBS programs receiving renewals this week. Among those returning for the 2014-15 season include NCIS, Elementary, Blue Bloods, and Survivor.

With Thursday Night Football on the horizon for CBS for the first few weeks of the fall season, look for Sheldon and the gang to temporarily relocate to Mondays, at least until November when TNF shifts exclusively to the NFL Network.

* In a surprise announcement, Graham Holdings (formerly known as Post-Newsweek Stations) sold ABC affilate WPLG-TV in Miami to Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. In a cash and swap-stock deal.

Former WLS-TV GM Emily Barr, who now is President/CEO of Graham Holdings’ TV group, said they have no plans to sell any other stations, which is now down to just five stations, including top-rated NBC affilate WDIV in Detroit and ABC affiliate KSAT in San Antonio.

WPLG is the market’s top-rated English-language station in South Florida thanks to its stability and its longtime affiliation with ABC. In 1987, CBS affiliate WTVJ was purchased by NBC and replaced WSVN (now a Fox affiliate) as Miami’s peacock station in January 1989. WTVJ swapped channel positions from 4 to 6 in 1995 with CBS-owned WCIX (now WFOR) as part of a larger deal NBC made with CBS to acquire WCAU in Philadelphia, necessary after CBS merged with Westinghouse in 1995, owners of five TV stations including Philly NBC affiliate KYW.

In 2008, Post-Newsweek tried to purchase WTVJ from NBC to form a duopoly with WPLG as WTVJ dropped to sixth place in total day ratings. The deal was scrapped two days before Christmas due to the nation’s economic crisis and political opposition.

Quick Hits and Bits:

- The state of the TV sitcom: Vulture and TV Guide have their takes.

- Former WGCI nighttime jock Mike Love joins Soul 106.3 (WSRB-FM) as afternoon personality, starting Monday. D.L. Hughley’s syndicated show is out.

- WGN Radio boss Jimmy de Castro gave an interview with the Sun-Times last week – perhaps the most insipid piece of crap I’ve ever read. Looks like de Castro has had too many Gin & Juice lunches with Dave Savini.

- More fallout from The Bachelor controversy and the disaster Juan Pablo created. Hey de Castro, there’s a future hire for you!


CNN’s “Chicagoland” stalls at the starting gate


The first episode of Robert Redford’s eight-episode documentary didn’t attract much of an audience

Reviews mixed, but Chicago viewers’ reception is more positive

Chicago is in the spotlight once again thanks to a new eight-hour documentary Chicagoland, which premiered Thursday on CNN and is running at 9 p.m. for the next eight weeks. Produced by Robert Redford, Mark Levin, and Sundance, the series focuses on the Windy City’s triumphs, struggles, celebrations, and tragedies. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel is prominently featured in the series, at least in the first episode. While not perfect, it serves as a reminder – a sobering one at times – about the struggles we face in the city we call home.

To dismiss Chicagoland as an campaign infomercial for Rahm would be understandable since he’s featured in the show quite frequently. But dismissing this series as just another reality show or as mindless entertainment is ridiculous. In fact, the people featured in Chicagoland are more real than anyone on The Real Housewives of Atlanta or Love and Hip-Hop. They’re dealing with real issues like whether or not they can get their kids to school safely and whether or not their school would close. This is real life, not another show about a Kardashian looking for her next fifteen minutes of fame.

Whether we like or not, this is a part of the media business. There’s more to the television industry than yakking about Community’s low ratings, late-night talk show shenanigans, or the classic Brady Bunch episode where Marcia got creamed by a football. A city’s image does have an effect on their market’s ad revenue – just ask Detroit, where despite ranked higher in market size (#11), is often outdrawn by twelfth-ranked Phoenix and thirteenth-ranked Seattle in ad revenue.

The first episode features numerous education-related issues, including the notably attractive Fenger high school principal trying to hold it and her students together in a neighborhood plagued with gang violence, to the 2012 Chicago Public Schools Teachers Strike, which shut schools for a week and featured a tug of war between Mayor Emanuel and Teachers Union president Karen Lewis – not to mention the closing of 50 public schools, the largest shutdown in American history.

Then there’s the out-of-control gang problem, which put Chicago in an unflattering national spotlight for the last several years, with 2012 racking up 500 murders. Many students of those closed schools were forced to across gang lines, with the city coming up with “Safe Passage” routes.

African-Americans are featured prominently on Chicagoland, but you have to ask – is this documenting the struggles of the community – or is it just reinforcing and exploiting negative black stereotypes? It seems Chicagoland was doing both, though judging by future promos, it plans to show the positive side of the black community (a huge minus however, was neglecting the city’s large Hispanic community, which it did in the first episode.)

As a South Sider, watching this was quite tough – its easy to see why many on this side of town would skip Chicagoland – we don’t necessarily want to be reminded we live in one of the most segregated and crime-plagued cities in the country (I’ve written about Chicago’s image problems for years, including South Side bashing, and what Rachel Shteir and the very overrated Jon Stewart had to say. Not everyone loves Chicago, as you can tell.)

Critical Reception

Reaction from critics have been mixed, with a 61 score on Metacritic. Chicagoland was received more positively from local critics like Lori Rackl and Robert Feder. Reaction on Twitter and other social media sites have also been positive (at least from Chicagoans), though others dismissed it immediately (“Liberalism at its worst”, one tweeter noted.) Many were quite vicious in their criticism of the show.

Yours truly on Twitter gave the first episode of Chicagoland a grade of C. While it was neat to have the all access pass to see what goes on in the city – especially in Mayor Emanuel’s office, the portrayal of those who weren’t Chicago’s movers and shakers was just about as I expected, as it seemed to be a cut-and-paste job. In other words, it’s not as balanced as you think. Personally, I’m not a fan of Rahm Emanuel, and yes, the C rating could have been lower.

In addition, the voiceover/narration was just awful and irritating to listen to. It sounded like professional wrestler Jake “The Snake” Roberts was narrating the show (Mark Konkol may be a Pulitzer-prize journalist, but he’s definitely no Casey Kasem or Sid McCoy.) Morgan Freeman or a local radio personality (who isn’t Mancow) would’ve been a better choice.


Despite the hype locally, CNN’s Chicagoland stalled at the starting gate. On Thursday night opposite ABC’s Scandal and CBS’ Elementary, Chicagoland earned only a 1.8 household rating, compared to Scandal’s 7.1, Elementary 5.4, and WGN News’ 5.0. On the other hand, Chicagoland did finish as the top non-sports cable program of the evening. Among adults 25-54 (the key news demo), Chicagoland finished fifth with a 1.5, ahead of WFLD’s newscast (1.1) and in total viewers.

Unfortunately, Chicagoland did not generate interest outside of the Windy City – the premiere episode placed third among the major cable news networks, drawing 629,000 total viewers and just 227,000 in the 25-54 demo, though it was within striking distance of Fox News (who had 247,000.) Chicagoland also failed to crack the top 100 cable shows among adults 18-49, meaning Chicagoland skewed quite old – not a good start for Robert Redford and Co.

Keep in mind Chicagoland was repeated several times over the weekend, so viewers do have a chance to check out the series.

T Dog Media will keep tabs on Chicagoland over the next few weeks to see how the series progresses.


Cable, Chicago Media, Journalism, Television , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ratings Box: Ellen gives boost to Oscars

Funny... I've never seen this picture before.

Funny… I’ve never seen this picture before.

* The Academy awards telecast on ABC Sunday night with Ellen DeGeneres as host scored the biggest ratings in fourteen years: the gala drew 43.74 million viewers and a 13.1/33 among adults 18-49, easily ranking as the highest-rated entertainment program of the year, up 0.7 percent from the 13/33 final numbers last year, and was up 8 percent in total viewers (40.38 viewers in 2013.) Clearly, the return of DeGeneres as Oscar host made a difference, as the daytime talk show host made a difference, as she was able to deliver more female viewers than last year’s host, Seth MacFarlane.

Locally, the Oscar telecast over WLS-TV drew a 35.6/53 in households, drawing more than a million viewers. The telecast was up from last year’s 33.1/50.

The 2014 Oscar telecast was more positively received than last year’s, despite being dull and slow in spots. But there were some missteps, notably Ellen giving the stars in the audience pizza – not to mention the “selfie” Ellen took with a few stars (see above), which became the most re-tweeted photo ever. Oscar’s effect lingered into Monday morning – and beyond, with numerous parodies of the group photo and endless covers of Let It Go, the Oscar-winning song from the Oscar-winning animated movie Frozen (including one from Dan Ponce.)

* More data was released regarding the just-concluded February sweeps period, and showed the good news extending beyond Olympics-fueled WMAQ-TV – WGN-TV had a lot to crow about as well. Its 9 p.m. newscast not only bested rival WFLD, but took second place in households behind the Olympics with a 5.3 rating, beating entertainment fare on CBS and ABC. WGN was up a whopping 231 percent from its prime-time lead-in (1.6) and was up 6 percent in rating from last year (5.0) But remember, both CBS and ABC sat out their original programming at 9 p.m. in February due to the Olympics, and many cable network shows did likewise.

WGN’s newscasts also topped its competition in the 6-9 a.m. morning slot in households and adult 18-49 and 25-54 demo, while its 11 a.m. newscast beat WLS’ Windy City Live, which fell to third place in households, even behind WBBM-TV’s midday newscast. Windy’s ratings so far have failed to match those it was earning at 9 a.m.

* Despite what was reported elsewhere, the Saturday night matchup between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks at snowy Soldier Field was a big hit for NBC and the NHL. In Nielsen overnight ratings, the outdoor game drew a 2.1 overnight household rating, the highest-rated regular season game ever in primetime, excluding All-Star games (of course, there weren’t too many of these- the last time a NHL regular season contest aired in prime – excluding All-Star games – was on NBC in 1975.)

Chicago lead the way with a 14.9 household rating for WMAQ, becoming the most-watched program of the day in the Windy City and the highest-rated regular-season Blackhawks game in Chicago history. In fact, the Chicago number contributed to 25 percent of the national rating. Pittsburgh’s WPXI came in with a 13.3 household rating, also easily winning the time period.

Nationally, the game drew 2.8 million viewers.

Broadcast Networks, Chicago Media, Local TV (Chicago), Television , , , , , , , , , , , ,

WMAQ hires former “Survivor” contestant as an investigative reporter

14849293_SAIf Tammy Leitner thought politics on a reality show was something, she hasn’t seen anything yet in regards to Chicago’s.

As first reported by Robert Feder last week, Ms. Leitner has joined the investigative team of NBC-owned WMAQ-TV (known as NBC 5 Investigates) which currently employs Carol Marin, Rob Stafford, Marion Brooks, and others. Leitner started at NBC 5 Monday.

Leitner’s credentials are very impressive: she spent eleven years at Meredith’s KPHO-TV in Phoenix, where apart of the investigative unit at the CBS affiliate, won a Peabody and an Edward R. Murrow Award. Most recently, she worked at CBS-owned WCBS-TV in New York. Leitner is a UCLA graduate, and received a Masters in Journalism from Boston University.

But we all know it takes more than education and a bunch of awards to survive in the Chicago media jungle, where politics and journalism often collide – and the results sometimes aren’t pretty.

And that’s where Leitner’s Survivor experience comes in.

Tammy Leitner in her "Survivor" days.

Tammy Leitner in her “Survivor” days.

Leitner appeared in CBS’ Survivor: Marquesas, which was shot in the fall of 2001 and aired in the spring of 2002. The fourth edition of the reality show featured memorable – and controversial contestants Sean Rector and “Boston Rob” Marciano, who would go on and appear on Survivor three more times. Leitner was briefly on the same tribe (Rotu) with the two troublemakers and was the tenth person voted out of the show and became the sixth member of the jury on May 2, 2002 – but not before she won two individual immunity challenges.

Vecepia Towery won the million dollar prize over Neleh Dennis – but not before Letiner lashed into both contestants at tribal council, criticizing them for their “holier-than-thou” attitudes (Tammy had to change the way she played the game as a result), accused both of being hypocrites,  and dismissed them as liars (fans of the show agreed; many felt Vecepia didn’t deserve the million.)

Survivor host Jeff Probst went on record saying Marquesas was his least favorite season, ahead of only All-Stars. Despite the creatively lackluster season, Marquesas averaged 20.8 million viewers in its Thursday night slot, opposite the popular Friends. Recent editions of Survivor, now on Wednesdays, have averaged half that number.

Just goes to show you having a little reality TV experience on your resume doesn’t necessarily hurt. In fact, it helps a lot – especially in a city known for being one huge, dysfunctional reality show. If Tammy Leitner can put up with Jeff Probst and Boston Rob, she can do the same with Rahm Emanuel, corrupt politicians and scam artists (not to mention some members of the investigative team.)

But now the floodgates have opened. Look for Fox’s WFLD to take advantage and hire a couple of Survivor contestants to add to their news team. Of course, they’ll screw up and hire Russell and Brandon Hantz and that Phillip guy who runs around in pink underwear as their “FBI expert”.

Broadcast Networks, Chicago Media, Local TV (Chicago), Local TV (Outside Chicago), Television , , , , , , , , , , , , ,