The Week

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As America Online reorganizes to rely less on paid subscribers and more on an advertising model, the company carved out four new divisions. Ted Leonsis, vice chairman of America Online, will head up Audience, the unit devoted to advertising on AOL's Web sites and products. He takes on many of the responsibilities of J. Michael Kelly, chairman-CEO of AOL International, who is leaving the company. Other top-level executives leaving AOL are Joe Ripp, AOL vice chairman, who will assume a management position at parent Time Warner, and Lisa Hook, president of AOL Broadband. The three other units and their leaders are Access, the now-combined Internet broadband and dial-up services, headed by Neil Smit, formerly head of member development; John McKinley as head of Digital Services, which encompasses premium services ; and AOL Europe, for which Philip Rowley has been made CEO.

NFL reaches deal with TV networks

The coffers of the National Football League grew $11.5 billion last week when the league announced it had come to terms with Viacom's CBS, News Corp.'s Fox and DirecTV for its package of Sunday-afternoon telecasts. The NFL extended its deals with CBS and FOX through 2011 for a combined $8 billion, while DirecTV-which offers all Sunday games in every market through a subscription package-reupped with the league for five more years at a cost of $3.5 billion. Still to be determined are the weekly Sunday-night games on ESPN and Monday Night Football on ABC. Both networks, owned by Walt Disney Co., are still in negotiations with the NFL. Based on what CBS and Fox paid, the NFL is likely to receive a 15%-25% increase in rights fees for the prime-time packages. QwikFIND aaq11e

ABC, FCC clash over `Private Ryan'

A group of ABC affiliates refused to air, "Saving Private Ryan," citing concerns that they could violate new Federal Communications Commission rules about indecency and it looks to be the start of a fight between ABC and the FCC over content. The movie, which was to air Nov. 11 to commemorate Veterans Day, was dropped by around 20 stations from Iowa to New Hampshire. Jon Mandel, chairman of Grey Global Group's media buying agency MediaCom said,"Their statement has a very obvious point about content. They are saying [the FCC] should stay out of content regulation. This has nothing to do with standards and caring about the community." Referring to lost ad revenue, Mr. Mandel said, "ABC has to lose the battle, if Preston Padden [ABC-TV president] is going to win the war." The movie, which contains violence and indecent language, was broadcast twice before and carries a new introduction by Senator John McCain. In a statement ABC said: "As in the past, this broadcast will contain appropriate and clear advisories and parental guidelines, and, as customary, we will provide advance screenings for ABC affiliates and advertisers."

FTC warns on bogus diet ads

The Federal Trade Commission stepped up pressure on publishers to do a better job of screening obviously bogus diet-pill claims before they get into advertising. Announcing actions against six marketers of products, the FTC said it had also for the first time sent letters to at least nine publications that ran the ads. The letters reminded publishers that the FTC put out a list of obviously bogus claims last December and indicated how the ads violated those guidelines. FTC chairman Deborah Majoras said the number of bogus ads have dropped 50% since the list was put out, but said she was hopeful publishers would do more to prevent the ads from appearing. QwikFIND aaq11h

Association forms for branded content

The Branded Content Marketing Association has formed a chapter in the U.S. and has appointed Mandalay Entertainment's Peter Guber, in Hollywood, and Cindy Gallop, chairman of Bartle Bogle Hegarty U.S., in New York, to serve as chairmen of the board. The BCMA is a network of advertisers, agencies and entertainment producers looking to promote branded entertainment across all forms of media. Chapters are already in the U.K., Australia, Germany and the Netherlands, and include representatives from WPP Group, Omnicom Group, IBM, MasterCard and Bacardi. (See


The Hart-Scott-Rodino waiting period passed for U.S. regulators' antitrust review of WPP 's Grey Global Group acquisition. The deal now must pass review by the European Commission, with a waiting period expiration of Nov. 26.

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