News

Nat Geo Goes Wild for Debate, Takes Colbert Up on His Offer

12/19/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

Nat Geo Wild didn’t
hesitate when Comedy
Central’s Stephen Colbert
suggested his proposed
“serious, classy
debate” of Republican
presidential candidates
in South Carolina be
held either on Animal
Planet or National Geographic
Channel.

It’s a debate to fill in
the “giant, ego-shaped
hole” lef t by Donald
Trump abandoning his
plan for a debate in Iowa,
Colbert explained on The
Colbert Report
last Tuesday
(Dec. 13).

Colbert declared that if
either network was interested,
send him an edible arrangement that says “I’m in.”

On Wednesday’s show, he declared, “Looky what arrived
today.” It was a lovely bunch of skewered strawberries
(and grapes) with an “I’m in” note, from Nat Geo Wild.

Colbert dubbed NGW “indisputably the wildest of
the Nat Geos” and urged Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan
to co-moderate.

Thursday night, Colbert aired an
NGW-made debate promo, co-starring
Colbert and Millan and featuring clips
of lions humping. He also said Animal
Planet sent over suck-up honeydew melons
and off ered to change the network
name to Colbert Planet if the debate
were held there. “Like rams on a mountain,
they’re fighting over me, it happens,”
the host declared.

NGW senior VP of communications
Chris Albert told The Wire this was
some serious fun. “If Stephen Colbert
will host it and the Republican candidates
will come, we will without a doubt
air it,” Albert said.

The debate doesn’t have a date yet.
The state’s primary is on Jan. 21, but
Colbert indicated viewers should save
the whole year.

“We’re ready,” Albert said.

‘Good Luck Charlie’
Baby Name Contest
Draws Crowd Online

When Disney Channel asked Good Luck Charlie viewers to
vote on the name of the baby scheduled to join the cast, a
lot of kids responded.

The hit show — about the Duncan family, where the
parents have busy jobs and three teenage siblings help out
with now 2-year-old baby sister Charlie — revealed during
a Dec. 2 Christmas telemovie that mom Amy Duncan is
expecting another baby. Disney’s website then posted five
boys’ names and five girls’ names and asked fans to select
the best. As of last Thursday afternoon, a channel rep told
The Wire, more than 10 million votes had been cast in the
U.S. alone. The contest ended Friday (Dec. 16).

The Wire had independently detected a lot of interest
in the topic — on our own multichannel.com.

A Dec. 3 item about the vote was by far the mostviewed
story on our site for the whole year. The Wire
thanks all the kids who wrote in name suggestions.
Among our faves were the first one, Emma Duncan, by a
girl who’s also named Emma.

An enthusiastic one came from Annabella, who wants the
baby to be a girl “and any girl name is OK for me!!!”

Good Luck Charlie will introduce the new family member
in an hour-long special this spring, during season three.

Capitolwords Tallies
How Often Pols Say
Words Like ‘Comcast’

The Sunlight Foundation has updated its Capitolwords
site, tallying the occurrences of words and phrases in the
Congressional Record and analyzing them according to
political affiliation.

The website lets journalists “track turns of phrase by
politician, date or state.” The Wire tested it out by entering
Comcast.”

Mentions
of the cable
company
spiked
starting in
January
2010, about
the time the
FCC was
ramping up
the review of
Comcast’s
NBCUniversal
merger.
After a whole
lot of discussion
on the
Hill and elsewhere, the merger was approved in 2011.

Comcast was most on the lips of Rep. Jim Gerlach
(R-Pa.), whose 6th District includes the suburbs of Philadelphia,
where Comcast is based. No. 2 on the list is Sen. Al
Franken
(D-Minn.), from whose lips the name did not come
trippingly as he hammered the company during hearings on
the deal. The only reference to NBCU in the 15 years’ worth
of records analyzed (back to 1996) was in 1999 from Rep.
James Clyburn (D-S.C.), whose daughter, FCC member Mignon
Clyburn
, voted to approve the Comcast/NBCU merger.
That reference, though, appears to be an acronym related to
historically black colleges and universities.

Cable TV: Folks,
Some of It Comes
From Outer Space!

Time Warner Cable keeps flashing open its kimono to
show subscribers how a cable operator works — to
help them appreciate the infrastructure that’s necessary
to deliver
their services
24/7. (And,
you know, not
feel ripped off
by their cable
bill.)

In the latest
bit of consumer
education,
TWC’s digital
communications
team put together a three-minute clip showing how
cable TV gets from a satellite all the way to New York
City living rooms.

Larry Pestana, Time Warner Cable’s vice president
of engineering for New York City, provides a folksy
walkthrough of the headend on 23rd Street in Manhattan,
a facility that serves about 1.2 million subscribers.

“So obviously, up there in the sky, there’s some satellite
that shoots things to the ground,” Pestana says in
clipped New Yawkese. “And we have antennas that kind
of look at that.”

Pestana also explains that after the signals are
converted into video, they’re sent to customers via
some 7,000 fiber-optic transmitters in the Big Apple.
“If I yanked one of these, about 300 or 400 subscribers
would lose their service,” he says with a grin. Ha,
engineer joke!

September
October