360AM — Morning news briefing for Friday, Apr. 13 (Updated: 8pm ET)
No FCC action is expected over Don Imus’ comments that led to his firing by MSNBC and CBS Radio, according to this morning’s Washington Post. The disgraced talk show host met with the Rutgers University women’s basketball team last night at New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine’s mansion. Coach C. Vivian Stringer told CNN the meeting was "productive" but declined to elaborate. Corzine was scheduled to moderate but was taken to the hospital after being critically injured in a car accident en route to the meeting; AP has more. Imus’ final radio broadcast yesterday, day one of his Radiothon drive for kids’ charities, raised more than $1.3 million; Deirdre Imus took over for her husband on the show’s final broadcast this morning, where she referred to the Rutgers basketball team as "unbelievably courageous and beautiful women." [AP | USA Today] Fox News Channel‘s Bill O’Reilly last night partially blamed NBCU president and CEO Jeff Zucker for the Imus incident, pointing to "the hatred" O’Reilly perceives on NBCU’s cable channels; an edited transcript of his remarks is here. Mark Cuban chimes in on his blog: "If the Imus show was on HDNet would I have fired him? Hell no."
Google announced a deal to buy DoubleClick for a whopping $3.1 billion in cash, beating rival Microsoft in acquiring the privately held Web advertising giant. (Google’s blog has details.) DoubleClick last week announced a NASDAQ-like online marketplace for digital ads that echoes eBay‘s proposed online ad sales bazaar, a nascent effort that was rejected last week by the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau on behalf of its cable network members. Google has been testing its AdSense system with Dish Network and Astound Broadband, with DirecTV reportedly eyeing its online-based ad technology. Advertising heavyweight Irwin Gotlieb, CEO of GroupM, said at the TVB‘s annual marketing conference yesterday that he opposes letting online players such as Google and eBay into TV ad sales. "I personally think it would be a sad reflection on the competence of our business," Gotlieb said. [MediaPost]
Also at that TVB conference: Nielsen announced new research that Tampa has the highest DVR penetration (with 26.6%) and Miami the lowest (7.9%) in the top 60 markets while the national average for DVR penetration in the top 60 DMAs is 16%. Nielsen chairman-CEO Susan Whiting also said she’d be surprised "if everyone agreed on live-only" ratings in this upfront. [MediaPost]
Another Web is eyeing TV ad dollars: AOL is hosting an event dubbed "First Look" for advertisers, media planners and buyers Tuesday in New York in a bid to chase upfront ad dollars. AOL chairman and CEO Randy Falco and AOL Media Networks president Mike Kelly are expected to unveil 4-5 original programs coming up in the next year, including a continuing partnership with producer Mark Burnett. Announcements are also expected from gossip site TMZ.com and comedy site ThisJustIn.com, an HBO co-production with its corporate cousins at AOL. Kathy Kayse, AOL’s EVP of sales and partnership alliances, tells MediaPost, "We want advertisers and media planners to consider AOL and Advertising.com as marketing partners and that when you buy with us you’re reaching 90% of the Internet audience."
Verizon may target cable operators with VoIP patent suits now that it’s squashed Vonage, which this week ousted its CEO and announced it’s trimming 10% of its workforce and cutting costs by $140 million. "The cable industry must certainly have their eye on this case," Columbia University law professor Tim Wu tells CNET. Verizon executive director Brian Whitton yesterday posted part 2 in his Q&A with customers regarding FiOS TV plans, HD channels, CableCARDs and more; part 1 also touched on these subjects.
NBCU‘s cable networks will play a big role in the Live Earth eco-concerts-on-six-continents simulcast on July 7 —or as organizers Al Gore and Kevin Wall prefer, 7/7/07. Wall tells Billboard that NBCU president and CEO Jeff Zucker said, "I’m in, and we’ll give you NBC and our cable networks." Besides NBC’s primetime telecast, Zucker is offering coverage on MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo, Telemundo and mun2. NBCU’s part-owned Sundance Channel and Mark Cuban’s HDNet are also involved. Here’s hoping one of them (Bravo?) sits on the London concert, which will feature Madonna and the Beastie Boys. Wall, who organized Live 8 two years ago, has shifted his online streaming allegiance from AOL to MSN with this event, which will be live-streamed on LiveEarth.msn.com.
A settlement appears imminent between DirecTV and FSN Midwest with the blackout of St. Louis Cardinals telecasts in Central Illinois lifted. FSN is still in a carriage dispute with Dish Network. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
HBO‘s Sunday night return of The Sopranos was the top-rated cable program for the week ending April 8. [AP]
Click here for Seth Arenstein’s "What to Watch" guide to cable premieres this weekend.
BBC America hosts a Robin Hood marathon on Sunday.
Lifetime is developing a TV movie based on the John Updike novel, Terrorist. [Hollywood Reporter]
NBC is #4 in the key 18-49 demo; the New York Post kicks a network when it’s down. GE‘s 1st quarter earnings report today attributed a 22% slump in revenue (to $3.48 billion) at NBC Universal to Q1 2006’s Olympics ad sales boost on NBC and its cable nets. [Release | Earnings call transcript]
Oxygen brings back true crime series Snapped for a 5th season starting May 6 and signed P&G to a cross-platform sponsorship of Mo’Nique’s F.A.T. Chance, which has its third annual pageant this summer. Mo’Nique also hosts VH1‘s celebreality spin-off Flavor of Love: Charm School, which premieres Sunday.
SCI FI premieres Painkiller Jane tonight; click here for our video interview with series star Kristanna Loken.
Showtime is bringing back The Tudors for another season and has made a five-episode commitment to a sketch comedy series from Tracey Ullman. The tentatively titled State of the Union will feature 20-plus Ullman characters per episode and starts production this fall. [Variety]
Showtime‘s Smithsonian Networks announced a programming slate at MIPTV in Cannes that includes more than 100 hours of HD titles acquired from international broadcasters.
TV Land has shot a pilot for Penny & Cindy, a reality show spin-off of Laverne & Shirley that reunites Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams. [NWI Times]
WE tv launched a website, Get Married, to plug its reality show of that name premiering Sunday.
Akamai acquired peer-to-peer enabler Red Swoosh. [Release]
Best Buy Geek Squad tech charged with being a peeping (and video-recording) Tom while on a service call; Gloria Allred is representing the family in a lawsuit. [AP]
BigBand‘s switched digital broadcast technology passes the 5 million-home mark. [Release]
Sling Media will launch a standalone video clip-based Web portal this summer. [PC World]