They're friends. They're neighbors. They're business associates. And last week they celebrated birthdays together. EchoStar Communications Corp. chairman Charlie Ergen and Starz Encore Group LLC chairman John Sie shared a birthday cake last Monday night following the monthly Dish Network Charlie Chat, hosted this time on the set of the Starz! original showHollywood One on One.
Sie made a brief guest appearance on Chat
to talk up the Starz Encore Super Pak. Ergen congratulated Sie on the 10-year anniversary of the premium movie company. Sie returned the favor, wishing Dish Network a happy fifth birthday. No word yet on just what Charlie will celebrate when he takes his Chat
to CNN headquarters in Atlanta come May.
... Court TV's upfront always includes a starring performance by CEO-and apparent wanna-be thespian-Henry Schleiff. Last week's presentation proved to be no exception. In this year's film noir
spoof, Schleiff showed a busty blonde spy for Mr. A.C. Nielsen the secrets to Court TV's meteoric success. The skitpointed out Schleiff's "separated-at-birth" resemblance to Comedy Central's Ben Stein, and portrayed a cable operator as a The Sopranos-type thug
who was in a witness protection program. "These guys are tough, really tough," Schleiff told the blonde. But Court TV's funniest upfront moments were unscripted. Schleiff's buddy Regis Philbin showed up at the end of the event to hold a raffle, doling out trips to the attending media buyers. Philbin mercilessly ribbed Schleiff, joking, "This presentation took longer than most of the court trials they cover." When one winner came onstage, Philbin asked her, "A trip to Florida. Was it worth it?"-a reference to the fact that she had to sit through the network's lengthy upfront shenanigans.
... According to Charter Communications Inc. in San Luis Obispo, Calif., a local low-power TV station pirated its signal for redistribution on the Internet. So why, then, is the operator relegated to the bad-guy role in the local media? "He's doing a great job of getting publicity," said Ed Merrill, Charter's general manager of the central coast town. "He" is Fling Traynor, principal of KCCE-TV, UHF channel 50. Traynor experimented this month by lifting coverage of the county-produced Board of Supervisors meeting from the Charter-carried government channel. The content isn't copyrighted, and Traynor asserts thatonce it's in his home or business,it belongs to him as a taxpayer. Charter disagrees, especially since the streaming video carried a "brought to you by" label identifying KCCE and Traynor's Internet business, Digital Putty-and not Charter. Furthermore, the Webcaster never notified Charter of his activities and when he streamed his first meeting, he wasn't even a Charter subscriber, Merrill said. Traynor said it's unlikely he'll stream the Charter feed again (too much bandwidth if a lot of people tune in), but reasserted his right to retransmit. "Their right ends at my box," he huffed.
... Cable still seems to lead DBS in mind share. On a recent installment of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the kid's gag gift was "my first illegal cable hookup," not a pirate dish. Then, there was a big New York Times Magazine
article on March 11, detailing how-even though the country is at peace and the government wants to give money back to its citizens-all Americans seem to do is complain. To wit: "Standard American conversation today often boils down to: bitch, bitch, bitch. There's too much traffic; the cable bill went up; the service isn't perfect; etc., etc.
People are even complaining about the coming tax cut- complaining about getting a tax cut."
Hmmm. Maybe there's a connection between the cable bill going up and the illegal hookups.
...Who says advertising-based networks are only concerned about revenues? Urban-targeted Major Broadcasting Network Corp. is donating valuable advertising time to Historically Black Colleges and Universities to help increase awareness of the academic institutions. The network, which has 5 million subscribers, will allow schools to submit broadcast-ready, 30-second spots for airing during the network's primetime programming block.
The donation will result in exposure for members equal to some $1 million in advertising. Network executives said that the HBCUs, which typically don't have the budgets to advertise via traditional media vehicles, would be able to highlight their school before viewers they may have never reached otherwise.