Entertainment Industry

Category: Radio

Liberty boosts SiriusXM stake above 45%

Karmazin Malone

Having been stymied by the Federal Communications Commission last week in its gambit to take over Sirius XM Radio Inc., Liberty Media revealed its next move on Tuesday — bumping up its stake in the company to 45.2% from 40%. 

Liberty's chief executive, Greg Maffei, told analysts in a conference call that his company had a contract in place to buy 302 million shares of SiriusXM for $650 million at $2.15 a share from undisclosed sellers.

The price represents a discount to SiriusXM's $2.17 closing price on Monday, prior to Liberty's announcement. SiriusXM lost 3 cents to $2.14 Tuesday after Maffei unveiled his move.

The two companies have been locked in a struggle for control since March, when Liberty started the high-stakes corporate chess match with a request to the FCC for control of the operating licenses SiriusXM needed to broadcast its satellite radio service. Liberty argued that its 40% ownership, along with five out of 13 seats on the board, meant it had "de facto" control of SiriusXM. 

SiriusXM's chief executive, Mel Karmazin, strenuously objected, deriding Liberty's attempt as trying to convince regulators that "40 is the new 50." His point was that shareholders needed to have more than 50% of a company to call the shots.

It seems that Liberty's chairman, John Malone, heard the message loud and clear and is moving toward that magic 51% mark.

But why 45.2% as opposed to 51%? Would that change the commissioners' minds at the FCC, should Liberty choose to exercise its option to amend its request to regulators by June 4? 

Here's Maffei's answer to those questions, which were posed to him during the earnings call with analysts:

"We thought it was attractive financially and because we thought it increased some of our options.... As far as de facto control, my layman's understanding would be we have a certain series of rights by contract with SiriusXM. To be able to fully exercise those rights freely, we need to have de facto control approved by the FCC. And as far as changing our application, I think there are host of things, actions we might take including this action we have taken, which will have bearing on our application and we'll weigh those, as we said, over the next 30 days and decide how to amend."

In other words, if 45.2% is enough to persuade the FCC to hand over the licenses, why spend the extra money to get to 51%? 


Sirius snubs Liberty

SiriusXM: Winning with niche playlists

FCC dismisses Liberty request for control over SiriusXM

— Alex Pham 

Photo: SiriusXM Chief Executive Mel Karmazin, left; Liberty Media Chairman John Malone, right. Credits: SiriusXM and Liberty Media.






Rush Limbaugh gets 0 days suspension, but KFI's John & Ken got 7

Rush Limbaugh’s continuing battle with his critics over his attack on a Georgetown law student as a “slut” and a “prostitute” has focused largely on several dozen advertisers reported to have pulled away from his radio show.

There has been no serious talk at Premiere Radio Networks — the company that syndicates Limbaugh’s show to more than 600 stations — about suspending or otherwise disciplining America’s most popular talk radio host. That's what Premiere management has said.

But that might seem like an unlikely position for the outfit to stake out so unequivocally, since Premiere is a subsidiary of Clear Channel and Clear Channel just last month suspended KFI-AM (640) radio hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou for calling the late Whitney Houston a “crack ho.” KFI carries both Limbaugh and John & Ken.

The acerbic duo missed seven programs in late February when the Los Angeles station called them out  for what management called “insensitive and inappropriate comments.” Kobylt and Chiampou apologized to their listeners and to Houston's family both before and after their suspension.

Clear Channel-owned KFI also made a series of other pledges to increase sensitivity to minorities at the station, which activists complain features only white hosts. Kobylt and Chiampou agreed to take part in “cultural sensitivity training," the station said, "furthering their awareness of the cultural melting pot that is Southern California.”

When rumors circulated that Limbaugh might also be suspended, a Premiere spokeswoman quickly knocked that idea down. Bottom line: Kobylt and Chiampou got seven shows off for their “crack ho” comment. Limbaugh got zero time away from the mike for “slut” and “prostitute.”

A coalition of African American media professionals in Los Angeles called this week for Limbaugh’s suspension. It also demanded that Clear Channel develop a set of policies to restrain its hosts from insensitive comments.

A source familiar with the company's thinking on the two episodes said Premiere executives felt that   Limbaugh’s remarks had political intent, even if his words were misguided, whereas the Clear Channel bosses overseeing the Los Angeles duo felt their words were entirely gratuitous. The source declined to be quoted by name while sharing the confidential thinking of insiders at Clear Channel and its subsidiary.

In case anyone thought the Limbaugh furor had run out of steam by week's end, feminist attorney Gloria Allred called on Friday for prosecutors in Florida to charge the radio host with criminal defamation. Officials in Florida had no immediate comment.


Don't rush to write off Limbaugh, analysts say

Rush Limbaugh's 'slut' comment draws rebukes from all sides

Rush Limbaugh to advertiser: I don't want you back

— James Rainey

Twitter: latimesrainey

Photo: Conservative talk radio duo Ken Chiampou, left, and John Kobylt. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times 

Rush Limbaugh to advertiser: I don't want you back

The intense campaign to cut advertising to “The Rush Limbaugh Show” took another turn Thursday when one of the first companies to pull its ads reportedly asked to return to the radio show -- only to be told by Team Limbaugh that the conservative host no longer would give his endorsement.

A Limbaugh spokesman said that California mattress company Sleep Train asked to restart a “voiced endorsement” from Limbaugh that it had publicly cut off last week. The company said at the time that it “does not condone such negative comments toward any person.”

Several activist groups have called for companies to drop their ads after Limbaugh called a Georgetown law school student a “slut” and a “prostitute” for her support of a proposal to mandate birth control in standard healthcare coverage.

PATRICIA HEATON: Twitter woes recall past Rush Limbaugh firestorm

Sleep Train's departure from the program had been billed by some observers as particularly significant because the mattress retailer had been with Limbaugh show for 25 years. Yet the tone of Sleep Train's withdrawal statement last Friday hinted it might not be pulling out for the long run.

“As a diverse company, Sleep Train does not condone such negative comments directed toward any person,” Sleep Train said at the time. “We have currently pulled our ads with Rush Limbaugh.”

Still, Washington Post blogger Erik Wemple called Sleep Train's decision "an act worth crediting," saying that lost ads would have more of an effect on Limbaugh than "well-crafted expressions of outrage from the usual organs."

Limbaugh spokesman Brian Glicklich on Thursday forwarded a copy of an email that he said had been sent to Sleep Train Chief Executive Dale Carlsen. In it, Glicklich wrote that Limbaugh had personally received the company's requests to resume advertising on his show. 

“Unfortunately," Glicklich wrote, "your public comments were not well received by our audience, and did not accurately portray either Rush Limbaugh's character or the intent of his remarks. Thus, we regret to inform you that Rush will be unable to endorse Sleep Train in the future.”

Limbaugh and Carlsen met in the 1980s, when the conservative host was based in Sacramento and still trying to make a significant mark in the radio business. Carlsen’s mattress store, which now claims to be the biggest such retailer in the West, was also in its formative stages.

Glicklich said Limbaugh received a strong response from fans displeased with Sleep Train and other sponsors that pulled out of the show.

“They have had a very long relationship and friendship as well,” Glicklich said of Carlsen and Limbaugh. He would not speculate on whether the relationship would be permanently broken by the dispute.

Carlsen and Sleep Train representatives could not immediately be reached.

Limbaugh opened his show Thursday again disputing claims by liberal groups that he had suffered severe advertising losses. 

Media Matters, a liberal watchdog group, strongly disagreed. The organization said 46 advertisers had reported leaving the three-hour program, which is syndicated to more than 600 stations. The organization said that it monitored WABC in New York and that there were two periods of "dead" air Thursday, when no advertisements filled normal sponsorship spots.

"This all comes after he said yesterday lost advertisers aren't a problem," said Jess Levin, a spokeswoman for Media Matters.

Conservatives, meanwhile, said the furor had been used to distract from the underlying issue of whether it was appropriate to mandate that birth control be part of health insurance policies. They have also protested that other media figures received much less blowback than Limbaugh for their sexist or derogatory remarks.

More than a week into the episode, the campaign over Limbaugh advertising -- and the meaning of the advertising defections -- showed little sign of slowing. 


Don't Rush to write off Limbaugh, analysts say

Rush Limbaugh's 'slut' comment draws rebukes from all sides

Rush Limbaugh: Loss of ads amounts to 'a couple of French fries' 

--James Rainey

Twitter: latimesrainey

Photo: Rush Limbaugh said through a spokesman Thursday that he would not welcome back Sleep Train, an advertiser that left his show last week in protest of Limbaugh's comments on a student activist at Georgetown. Credit: Ron Edmonds / Associated Press

Rush Limbaugh: Loss of ads amounts to 'a couple of French fries'

Rush Limbaugh
The flight of advertisers from “The Rush Limbaugh Show” continued Wednesday, with a total of 45 national and local companies pulling their spots, according to the liberal activist groups angered by the talk radio host for calling Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute.”

But Limbaugh told his audience that the reports of advertiser defections had been greatly exaggerated by his opponents, and that the companies that pulled ads accounted for a small minority of the overall ad inventory on the 600 affiliates that carry his show.

“That's like losing a couple of French fries in the container when it's delivered to you at the drive-through,” Limbaugh said. “You don’t even notice it.”

OP-ED: Limbaugh and the hypocrisy of the gaffe

An industry expert at the trade magazine “Talkers” said that the system for buying radio advertising is extremely complex and it would be hard to assess Limbaugh’s ad losses in the short run.

The liberal advocacy group Media Matters said it had recorded a list of 45 sponsors — mostly national, but including a dozen that aired spots on WABC in New York, which the group monitors — that had abandoned Limbaugh by Wednesday afternoon. They included big companies like J.C. Penney and Capital One and also local advertisers like Norway Savings Bank.

Several different activist groups chronicled, and encouraged, the advertiser defections, with much of the news about their decisions delivered on Facebook and Twitter. The individual social media missives revealed a complicated situation, including instances in which advertisers said they had maintained a “no run” policy for the Limbaugh show, even before the Fluke controversy.

OBAMA: I thought of my daughters when I called Sandra Fluke

J.C. Penney said via Facebook: “It has come to our attention that a handful of local radio stations may have played jcpenney radio spots adjacent to or during The Rush Limbaugh Show. To be clear, jcpenney is not a national advertiser of this show. We have a strict 'No Run' policy in place specifically regarding The Rush Limbaugh Show.  After jcpenney confirms the facts, we will contact any local radio station that is in violation of our radio advertising parameters to ensure that our 'No Run' policy is adhered to regarding this program."

The liberal interest group Think Progress reported that Capital One had dropped its Limbaugh ads. It quoted the bank as saying: “Yes. We have reiterated our advertising choices to our media partners. If an ad did run, it was not authorized by us, and we do not want it to happen again.”

Netflix told the digital culture website Boing Boing: “Spotted your tweets and wanted to let you know that Netflix has not purchased and does not purchase advertising on the Rush Limbaugh show. We do buy network radio advertising and have confirmed that two Netflix spots were picked up in error as part of local news breaks during the Rush Limbaugh show. We have instructed our advertising agency to make sure that this error will not happen again.”

Limbaugh told his audience Wednesday that any defections had been inconsequential. He said some new advertisers already had signed on, following his commentaries on Fluke last week. “Everything is fine on the business side.  Everything's cool,” he said. “There is not a thing to worry about. What you're seeing on television about this program and sponsors and advertisers is just incorrect.”

Angelo Carusone, campaign director for Media Matters, suggested that a review of Limbaugh’s website or radio show suggested otherwise. He said that a position on the Limbaugh homepage long occupied by the computer security firm Carbonite had been left blank. And Carusone forwarded his group's log of sponsor time during Limbaugh's show Wednesday as it aired on WABC in New York, showing that many spots were occupied by free public-service ads.

Michael Harrison, publisher of “Talkers,” said he opposes economic campaigns against radio hosts, whether they are liberal or conservative. He argued that such campaigns, if successful, tend to stifle free speech.

But Harrison contended that only a decline in audience would do serious damage to Limbaugh.

“If the listeners are bailing out, then I would say there is a long-term problem,” Harrison said. “Then he would lose sponsors and new ones would be harder to find.” But Harrison said there are not yet indications of a listener exodus from the Limbaugh program.

“His audience is not outraged,” Harrison said, adding that Limbaugh was turning the issue already into a campaign against allegedly untrustworthy mainstream media. “If you listen to his show, he is making it an us-against-them thing. That’s how he built his whole show in the first place.”


Don't Rush to write off Limbaugh, analysts say

Rush Limbaugh's 'slut' comment draws rebukes from all sides

Patricia Heaton: Twitter woes recall past Rush Limbaugh firestorm

--James Rainey


Photo: Radio host Rush Limbaugh, who last week called law student Sandra Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute" after she testified in favor of a requirement that health insurance companies provide free contraceptives. Credit: Rob Carr / Associated Press

Clear Channel acquires mobile music streaming company Thumbplay

Clear Channel, the dominant player in traditional radio, is going over the air and into the cloud. The radio company on Monday night announced it has purchased Thumbplay, a mobile digital music company, for an undisclosed sum.

Thumbplay uses cloud-based technology to let users stream music from a catalog of 8 million songs to devices such as BlackBerry, Android or iPhone for $9.99 a month. It also lets users buy song downloads a la carte, with prices ranging from 69 cents to $1.29.

The digital music streaming company, founded six years ago as a purveyor of ringtones by Evan Schwartz, sells its services through thousands of online outlets, including AOL and Clear Channel.

Robert Pittman, chairman of Clear Channel's media and entertainment platforms, said the subscription service rounds out the company's free online radio offerings, which include 750 streaming radio channels from its local stations.

Clear Channel, though a powerhouse in terrestrial over-the-air radio, is just one of many players when it comes to the Web. The dominant player among free Internet radio services is Pandora, an Oakland, Calif.-based company that recently announced plans to sell its shares in an initial public offering.

Among subscription music services, in which members pay a monthly fee to be able to access a large catalog of songs on demand, Thumbplay competes with Rhapsody, Napster, Rdio, eMusic and MOG.

-- Alex Pham








Rdio CEO Drew Larner on the future of digital music subscriptions

Apple Inc.'s announcement last week that it would start enforcing a 30% tariff on subscription services running on its iPhones and iPads sent waves of sturm und drang through the digital entertainment landscape.

Rdio CEO Drew Larner It seemed to be particularly bad news for music streaming services such as Rhapsody, eMusic, MOG and Rdio, which already pay more than half of their revenues to music publishers and record labels for the rights to stream millions of songs on demand. Slicing an additional 30% for Apple would leave these services with little left over to run their businesses, according to Rhapsody Chief Executive Jon Irwin.

Drew Larner, the chief executive of San Francisco-based Rdio, recently gave The Times a more sanguine point of view.

"Apple is obviously a very powerful and successful company, but it’s not the only platform out there," Larner said. "There will always be multiple ways to access music."

Apple's curveball is only the latest challenge to hit the music subscription business, which has struggled for years to get traction with consumers. Music analysts have estimated that the total number of subscribers in the U.S. who pay monthly fees between $5 and $10 has been stagnating at around 2 million, even though such services have been around since 2001, when Rhapsody launched.

Even so, Larner, a former executive vice president of Spyglass Entertainment and before that vice president at 20th Century Fox, said there are several reasons to think subscription music services will eventually thrive. Here are five:

1. The lightbulb moment. Most people aren't aware music subscriptions exist. Even giant retailer Best Buy, which purchased Napster, has had some difficulties marketing the service. Larner believes that once people catch on that they can get access to virtually any song they want on demand for less than the price of a CD per month, they'll pull the trigger.

"Subscription music services will still take some time for people understand why it is the future," Larner said. "Once we reach the tipping point, though, I think it will move quickly."

2. Idiot-proofing. Until recently, many services came with a number of head-scratching limitations. Some services worked only with certain devices. Others were saddled with lengthy copyright restrictions meant to curb unauthorized copying.

Now, there are fewer restrictions and device compatibility is much less of an issue. "The labels have become much less restrictive and more forward thinking with their digital strategies," Larner said.

3. Smart phones. They comprised 31% of the U.S. cellphone market in the fourth quarter last year, according to Nielsen, and are projected to hit 50% this year. Able to reliably stream music from a wireless connection and cache thousands of songs in their generally prodigious memory, smart phones have become portable mini-computers for a large chunk of the population. As a result, music subscription services are able to run far more seamlessly between a computer account and a mobile account, Larner said.

4. The What-to-Listen-to-Next problem. Earlier services played only what listeners directed them to play. But most people didn't want to constantly mess with the settings and had a hard time figuring out what to play next once they've run through their own top 40 list. Next generation services, such as Slacker and Pandora, solved that problem by asking the listener what they like to listen to, and then playing a constant stream of music that's similar.

The latest generation of music subscription services, such as Rdio, try to take things one step further by incorporating what their subscribers' friends are listening to. "It's Twitter meets Facebook meets music," Larner said.

5. Better software designs. It's not just about making the services easy and simple, Larner said. It's also about designing digital music services that let people can manage the thousands of albums they like to listen to while also discovering new music. This, as with points one through four, is a work in progress.

Will Apple's subscription plan slow down the work further? Most think that it will.

"The mobile platform as a whole is providing a growth opportunity for the industry as a whole," said David Krinsky, chairman of the subscription services working group of the National Assn. of Recording Merchandisers and head of label relations at Rhapsody. "To threaten that is extremely concerning."

Krinsky and Larner agree that most music subscription services would be forced to pull out of the iPhone and iPad if Apple follows through with its 30% levy in June.

Larner, for one, is looking ahead to see what's next on Rdio's playlist beyond Apple. "We’ve seen great uptake on Android," Google's mobile operating system, which made up 27% of the smart phone market in December, according to Nielsen. Rdio, founded by Skype creators Janus Friis with Niklas Zennström, also works on Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system, BlackBerrys and, as of Thursday, Roku players.

"It’s an opportunity for us to push the gas on distribution on other available platforms," Larner said.

-- Alex Pham

Photo: Rdio Chief Executive Drew Larner. Credit: Zachary Larner / WithExtraVinyl.








Radio Disney gets a new general manager

Walt Disney Co. has tapped a Disney Channels Worldwide executive to run the promotional platform that is Radio Disney.  Sean Cocchia

Sean Cocchia was named senior vice president and general manager of Radio Disney, a national network of 35 radio stations that reach 57% of the country with programming for children and tweens (and a playlist favoring such Disney talent as Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato). He also has oversight of RadioDisney.com, a Sirius/XM satellite channel and applications that bring the radio station to mobile devices. He succeeds Michael Riley, who recently was named president of ABC Family.

"Sean brings strategic acumen, extensive knowledge of our business and leadership skills to his new role," said Disney Channels Worldwide President Carolina Lightcap, who oversees Radio Disney.

Cocchia has been an executive with Disney since 1998, most recently as senior vice president of business planning and development for Disney Channels Worldwide.

Lightcap also promoted David Cobb to vice president of business planning and strategy for Disney Channels Worldwide. He has been with the company since 1996.

-- Dawn C. Chmielewski

Photo: Sean Cocchia. Credit: Bob D'Amico / Walt Disney Co.

The Morning Fix: Big bucks for 'Big Bang'! Weinstein Co. makes splash at Toronto. Reality bites on broadcast.

After the coffee. Before wondering why Fashion Week snubbed me.

Reality bites. The Wall Street Journal uses the overhaul of Fox's "American Idol" to check in on the state of the reality TV biz. Heading into the fall season, the WSJ notes that the five broadcast networks have scheduled 14 hours of reality shows, the lowest number since 2005. Of course, in fairness, a lot of reality shows usually come on in mid-season to replace new comedies and dramas that didn't work. Also, although broadcast may be backing away from reality shows, the story doesn't note how huge they've become on cable. TLC, MTV, Bravo and dozens of other channels are basically reality-show factories these days. As for "American Idol," we're all still waiting for Fox and the producers to announce Steven Tyler, the Aerosmith singer, and performer Jennifer Lopez as the new judges. Actually, does anyone care anymore?

Big paycheck for "Big Bang Theory." Deadline Hollywood has the details on the new contracts for the stars of the CBS hit "The Big Bang Theory." Most interesting was how Warner Bros. TV, which makes the show, managed to get breakout star Jim Parsons to take the same deal as his co-stars. Initially, the Emmy winner had been holding out for a bigger deal, but Warner Bros. played hardball. The raises come in the wake of Warner Bros. selling repeats of the program to TBS. In other words, this is the reward for the last few years as much as it is a raise going forward.

They're back! The Weinstein Co., apparently trying to move on from founders Bob and Harvey Weinstein's unsuccessful effort to buy back Miramax from Walt Disney Co., has been making a splash at the Toronto International Film Festival. According to Variety, the Weinstein Co. picked up North American rights for a British coming-of-age comedy called "Submarine," its second purchase after springing for "Dirty Girl." Lionsgate has also been busy as it and specialty subside Roadside bought U.S. rights to Robert Redford's "The Conspirator," which is from new Chicago Cubs owner Joe Ricketts

Brother, can you spare a dime? Veteran movie banker Clark Hallren, who left JPMorgan last year to create Clear Scope Partners, has a grim financing forecast for the movie industry. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Hallren, who worked on the initial IPO for DreamWorks Animation, said "it's a good time not to be a banker." Why? Well, Hallren notes that foreign banks are not doing as many deals and the risks in the movie business have skyrocketed.

You say show, I say advertisement. An advocacy group is going after Nickelodeon, charging that one of its new shows is nothing more than an advertisement dressed up as a kids cartoon. The show, "Zevo-3," premieres on Nicktoons next month (actually the day after Hub, a new rival kids channel from Discovery and Hasbro, launches) and is based on characters that were created for a marketing campaign by the shoe company Skechers. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has sent a complaint to the Federal Communications Commission asking the agency to stop Nickelodeon from proceeding with the show. The FCC does have rules regarding advertising and kids programming, but Nickelodeon parent Viacom counters that although the characters of the show may have been inspired by the ads, it is not violating any government regulations. More on the skirmish from the New York Times.

Missing the point. The Hollywood Reporter has a story Thursday declaring that "fat is making a comeback in Hollywood" and suggesting that we can all "forget about" the super-skinny actresses that fill just about every show on broadcast and cable. What the story doesn't note is that most of these shows are reality shows about losing weight and that their overall message is that there is something wrong with the people on the show. Although obesity is a real issue, many of these shows are just exploiting people in the hopes of ratings. In other words, Hollywood is not suddenly embracing people who you can actually still see when they turn sideways.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Sirius XM Chief Executive Mel Karmazin said he is confident that Howard Stern will sign a new deal with the satellite radio broadcaster. MGM got its seventh (that's right, seventh) forbearance on its debt payments. Lucas Cruikshank is building an empire with his Fred Figglehorn character.

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter because I said so: Twitter.com/JBFlint

The Morning Fix: It's all on Rupert! Box office blues. New life for Riley at ABC Family. Where will Emmys go next?

After the coffee. Before wondering what the deal is with those screaming crows outside my bedroom.

What's Rupert thinking? News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch will play a key role in whether Apple's desire to offer television shows for rent on iTunes at the low, low price of 99 cents per episode gains momentum. The Los Angeles Times looks at Murdoch's obsession for Apple's iPad -- he thinks it can save print media -- and how that is influencing his thinking when it comes to renting video content. While Disney, on whose board Apple chief Steve Jobs sits, is also likely to cut some sort of deal with Apple, other broadcasters and cable programmers are not yet sold and fear Apple's plans will benefit Jobs a lot more than Hollywood. Even within News Corp., not everyone is on the same page as Murdoch. By the way, the reason Apple is pushing so much for the 99-cent rental business is because it isn't having much luck selling digital downloads of TV shows. 

Good news and bad news at the box office. On the one hand, Hollywood can boast of record revenue at the box office this summer. On the other hand, the number of people actually going to movies was off dramatically. Of course, the reason for this was 3-D, as "Toy Story 3" and "Shrek Forever After" helped lift the totals and probably gave the industry an artificial sense of success. More on the summer movie season from Bloomberg.

Lions Gate is on a roll, but Icahn still looming. Although production company Lions Gate can smile about the success of "The Expendables" and "The Last Exorcism," its future remains in limbo as the cloud of investor Carl Icahn hangs over it. The Wrap looks at the studio's summer and the latest on Icahn's takeover plans.

What's the next home for the Emmys? Sunday night's awards show saw a slight growth in viewers and a dip in adults 18-49. The decision to air the show live coast to coast doesn't appear to have hurt viewership at all, and although the numbers might have been bigger if the show had aired in September, the competition would have been heavier. Now the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences needs to strike a new TV deal. Under the current pact, the license fee is about $7.5 million a year and that does not include production costs. Matching that figure will be a challenge. There is debate about whether the Emmys would benefit from a permanent home or should continue to rotate from network to network or even be expanded to cable. More on the numbers and the contract from the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal.

Wanna play? The New York Times takes a look at GSN, otherwise known as the Game Show Network, and its challenge of making TV game shows in a video game era. The cable channel, which is co-owned by Sony Corp. and DirecTV, started as a home for reruns of old shows like "Password" and "Concentration" but now is making a big push into original shows that include remakes of classics ("The Newlywed Game") as well as new games.  So far, big success has eluded the channel, and industry analyst Derek Baine told the NYT that GSN "really needs to reinvent itself and find out how to boost the ratings."

Radio war. The radio industry's fight against paying for the music played on stations may be nearing an end as a compromise is in sight, reports Variety. The deal, per Variety, would establish tiered rates under which stations would pay 1% or less of their net revenue to the musicians. The National Assn. of Broadcasters, which has been vocal in its opposition to paying, is taking the pulse of its membership as this deal would be less onerous than previous proposals.

Life of Riley. Disney has filled Paul Lee's post as president of ABC Family with Michael Riley, a Canadian native who most recently was running Disney's radio operation. The post opened up earlier this month when Lee took over as head of ABC's prime-time entertainment in the wake of Steve McPherson's abrupt exit. Riley has TV experience, but most of it was overseas with Turner Broadcasting, and his specialty was corporate development and marketing, not programming so there might be a learning curve. At least he inherits a channel that has been on a creative roll as of late. More on Riley's new life from Broadcasting & Cable.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Jimmy Fallon had a magic night hosting the Emmys; here's how he did it. The Los Angeles Forum is rapidly becoming a fading memory, and that's not good news to its owners. Another bunch of faux celebrities have signed up for ABC's "Dancing with the Stars," but hey, at least Jennifer Grey is giving it a whirl.

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter; it'll make the day go by faster. Twitter.com/JBFlint

The Morning Fix: Google is coming for your TV! CBS has passage to India. BermanBraun rakes in some new dollars. Morty's back in late night.

After the coffee. Before yet another flight to New York. And in August no less.

Google is coming! Google is coming! Search giant Google is getting serious about its small-screen aspirations. The company has been meeting with broadcast and cable networks to try to get access to their content for its new Google TV application that will allow consumers to watch TV through the Web. Of course content providers want to make sure they a) get paid for their programming and b) don't alienate the cable and satellite distributors who already carry their channels. Google's real aim to is to get more ad dollars and leave Apple's television aspirations in the dust. More on Google's big push and what the challenges will be from the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal.

What's a million dollars between friends? Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. made headlines this week for its $1-million donation to the Republican Governors Assn. This, of course, gave fuel to the left to take shots at Murdoch's Fox News operation. Washington Post media columnist Howard Kurtz, who also works for Fox News rival CNN, followed up on Tuesday's story on this from Politico. A News Corp. spokesman told Kurtz that it is "patently false" that a donation by News Corp. would somehow influence coverage at Fox News. By the way, lots of media companies give money to political causes. The New York Times also weighed in with a article on Rupert's largess. 

Really, it'll happen. Variety checks on Disney's deal to sell Miramax to Ron Tutor, the big-shot construction guy (sorry, I'm tired of saying "construction magnate") and says that although the pact was announced weeks ago, the financing is still not nailed down. The deadline to close is Sept. 7, and odds seem long that it will be met. Of course, Disney could extend it or go back on the market and see if Miramax founders Bob and Harvey Weinstein want to make one more run. 

A passage to India. CBS and India's Reliance Broadcast Network Limited announced early Wednesday morning their plans to launch a joint venture that will create three English-language television channels. The networks, which will launch later this year, will feature both current CBS content and library fare as well. CBS becomes the latest U.S. media company to try to build a presence in India. Here's an early take from the Hollywood Reporter and an old story about the talks from the Wall Street Journal, just to bring you up to speed.

Morty's back. Veteran producer Robert "Morty" Morton is coming back to late night as the show runner for TBS' "Lopez Tonight." Morton was the longtime executive producer for David Letterman. The move comes as Lopez prepares for his show to relocate to midnight to make room for Conan O'Brien. Details from Broadcasting & Cable

Read at your own risk. The Wrap says it has come across an e-mail with details of what is in development at Paramount Pictures. Among the projects are a Will Smith movie from director Kathryn Bigelow and a comedy starring Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand. Paramount told the Wrap that some of the material in the e-mail is right and some it is wrong.

Digital dollars. BermanBraun, the entertainment company headed by former TV big shots Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun, has roped in $100 million in advertising commitments from Starcom, a big agency whose clients include Procter & Gamble and Wal-Mart. The money is for BermanBraun's digital operations, including its websites Wonderwall and Glo. The New York Times, which always seems to have the inside scoop on these guys, has the story, as does the Wall Street Journal blog All Things D. They can flip a coin to decide which one was fed this first. 

Turner on a roll. "Rizzoli & Isles," the female detective drama featuring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander, is the latest hit for TNT. Although it has hardly been a critical smash, it is drawing big audiences and proves that there is a big appetite for what Ad Age calls "meat and potatoes"-type programming. Variety also weighs in on a piece about cable's hot summer.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Dr. Laura says goodbye to radio. Just because the star leaves, that doesn't mean the show can't go on. Haim Saban buys Julius the Monkey.

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter. I've been known to tweet from airplanes. Twitter.com/JBFlint


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