Media Life


May sweeps: Fox leads ABC by 0.1 in adults 18-49
With one night to go in the May sweeps, Fox held a small but likely insurmountable lead despite being down 16 percent compared with last May, according to Nielsen data provided by the network. Fox was averaging a 3.8 rating and 11 share in adults 18-49 through Tuesday night, a tick ahead of ABC’s 3.7/11. CBS was third at 3.1/9, and NBC was fourth at 2.5/7. Last night was the final night of sweeps, and Fox was expected to pull big numbers with its “American Idol” finale. ABC was the only Big Four network to see gains as television usage levels were down 6 percent compared with last May. ABC was up 6 percent compared with last May, when it did not air “Dancing with the Stars.” Meanwhile, CBS was down 18 percent, and NBC fell 22 percent. The CW, which formed from the WB and UPN last September, was up 8 percent compared with both networks’ average last May, to a 1.3/4. And MyNetworkTV, the first-year News Corp. venture, was well behind at 0.4/1. Final numbers will be out later today.


Bancroft family on Rupe: We're still not interested
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. $5 billion bid for Wall Street Journal parent Dow Jones hit another snag yesterday when a key Bancroft family member expressed his opposition to the sale. Christopher Bancroft, whose family controls 64 percent of the voting shares of Dow Jones, says he fears the sale would hurt The Journal. Bancroft, who is a Dow Jones director, told the Journal that he doesn’t want to risk the paper’s editorial independence. Family members met yesterday in Boston to discuss Murdoch’s April offer. But Christopher Bancroft, who along with two siblings controls about one-third of the Bancroft family's stake in Dow Jones, was not at the meeting and neither were William Cox Jr., or any of his children, who control about 15 percent of the family’s total shares. Cox and most of the family members have said they oppose the sale to News Corp. But there is dissension among some family members, who say they were not consulted about the initial offer refusal. Research analysts earlier this week noted that Murdoch is becoming increasingly frustrated with the Bancrofts' opposition and may withdraw his bid in the next couple of weeks.


Poll: Iowans trust traditional media for caucus news
Newspaper circulation is falling and TV viewership is declining, but they’re still the media that Iowans turn to for much of their news. A new poll by The Des Moines Register finds that more than 90 percent of Iowans depend on newspaper and television to find out more about presidential candidates. The poll found 93 percent of those planning to participate in the upcoming caucus read newspaper stories about the presidential hopefuls and 94 percent of Iowans have viewed a candidate debate on television or say they plan to. While it’s widely used for entertainment by young adults, the internet is a less dominant election resource, the poll shows. The poll, based on about 800 phone calls divided between Democrats and Republicans conducted May 12-16, doesn’t distinguish between newspapers articles read in print and those read on newspapers’ web sites.


Wheeling and dealing: XM courts used car owners
XM Radio and General Motors are putting a new spin on old cars. The two are getting satellite radios turned on in used vehicles, including Cadillacs and Hummers. The trial program launched yesterday will make XM available this year in more than 115,000 GM vehicles, which also include Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick, GMC and Oldsmobile. That number is expected to rise to 168,000 by 2008, both companies say. The new program provides three trial months of XM Radio service and waives the activation fee. XM Radio has been included in millions of GM vehicles over the past five years, many of which never subscribed to the service. XM wants to try to capture some of those customers, at a time when satellite radio could really use some good news like a rise in subscribers. Washington, D.C.-based XM Radio, with more than 8 million subscribers, is currently seeking regulatory approval to merge with Sirius Satellite Radio. A software glitch interrupted service to XM Radio subscribers on Monday and Tuesday causing the company’s stock price to take a dive.


Maury in Montana: TV yakker launches newspaper
Syndicated talk show host Maury Povich has begun a new news venture, and this time it has nothing to do with paternity test results. Povich launched the Flathead Beacon yesterday, a weekly free distribution paper with a daily online presence in Montana’s Flathead Valley. Povich and wife Connie Chung have a home in nearby Bigfork. The launch comes after a dour few years for newspapers, as circulation and ad revenues have declined. What’s interesting about the Povich paper is its strong embrace of online, at a time when web newspaper readership has been growing. About 50,000 copies of the print edition will be distributed on Wednesdays. Along with news from the valley, the Beacon will feature a movie page, which was created in partnership with, a sports page, and an opinion page, while the web site will feature breaking news, community pages, an events calendar, the Beacon Blog, and various multimedia offerings. Tom Donnelly is publisher and Kellyn Brown is editor-in-chief. While celebrities like Martha Stewart, Oprah Winfrey and Rosie O’Donnell have all lent their names to magazines recently, celebrity newspaper backings are not as common.

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