The Week

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Fox News' February prime-time viewers soared 18% over last February's, to 1.57 million, while CNN's prime-time slide continued, dropping to 637,000 viewers, 21% less than February 2004. Bright spots for Fox included 24% growth for the 3-year-old "On the Record With Greta Van Susteren" and 7% growth for its top show, "The O'Reilly Factor." The February numbers put additional pressure on new CNN president Jonathan Klein, who passes his 90-day mark on the job, to turn around the network's prime-time slide. Other news networks experienced similar windfalls: MSNBC's prime-time ratings fell 14% and CNBC's dropped off 42%. CNN Headline News held steady.

Grey shareholders approve WPP deal, sale wraps up

WPP Group is set today to complete its acquisition of Grey Global Group after Grey shareholders March 3 approved the deal. Grey owners will get about $1.7 billion in cash and WPP stock in a package worth more than $1,100 a share; Grey went public in 1965 at $9.75. Ed Meyer, Grey's chairman-CEO since 1970, stands to get about $473 million: about $397 million for his family's shares, a family foundation's shares and stock options; $53.1 million in cash for deferred compensation and supplemental pensions; and $22.7 million in cash for a golden parachute. Mr. Meyer, 77, signed a contract with WPP to keep his job through Dec. 31, 2006. He'll get an annual salary of $1 million; annual performance bonus of $750,000 to $1 million; WPP "performance shares" with a target value of $1 million; and $2 million in stock options. He has six months to propose a successor for himself as CEO of Grey Worldwide. WPP, with nearly $7.9 billion in revenue last year, adds Grey, with estimated revenue of $1.47 billion in 2004, creating a $9.3 billion company, according to Ad Age analysis. WPP remains No. 2 to Omnicom Group, which had `04 revenue of $9.7 billion. AdAge.com QwikFIND aaq37h

Seifert resigns from TBWA, awaits sentencing

A week after she was found guilty of defrauding the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Shona Seifert resigned from her position as president of TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York, after three years there. A spokesman for the Omnicom agency confirmed the move, saying that TBWA and Ms. Seifert "have mutually agreed to her resignation, effective Feb. 28." She and Thomas Early face up to five years in prison after being convicted of conspiracy to defraud the federal government and other charges while working for WPP Group's Ogilvy and Mather, New York, in 1999. Their sentencing hearing is set for May 16. Mr. Early, former New York finance director, resigned from Ogilvy last year. AdAge.com QwikFIND aaq37a

BBDO changes creative staff, hires Todd Tilford

Omnicom Group's BBDO, New York, is the latest ad agency to begin to dabble in design. Todd Tilford, the new executive creative director and director of visual communications, is the latest big hire by BBDO's top creative David Lubars, who is seeking to make the once TV-centric agency more media agnostic. The 41-year-old Mr. Tilford, who will oversee the design capability and the studio and print departments, is best known for creating Pyro Brand Development while at the independent Richards Group. A BBDO spokesman confirmed the departure of several veteran creatives, though he wouldn't say who or how many employees are out. AdAge.com QwikFIND aaq37a

Overture takes Yahoo name, consolidates image

In an effort to consolidate and strengthen its brand image against arch-rival Google, Yahoo changed the name of its Overture unit to Yahoo Search Marketing Solutions. Overture, which began its business life as GoTo.com, pioneered the concept of search-engine advertising, a segment that has now evolved into about 40% of the $2.6 billion online market in 2004. Search is expected to grow 19% in 2005, according to the most recent predictions from online marketing research firm eMarketer.

As part of the strategy change, Yahoo is also placing all of its paid search services under one umbrella. The changes are planned for the next quarter. AdAge.com QwikFIND aaq36t

FYI...

The Chairmen of the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee endorsed extending the rules that apply to broadcast TV to cable and satellite TV and radio in comments at a National Association of Broadcasters meeting in Washington last week. The comments were made by Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas. Cable programmers say a limit would violate First Amendment rights because cable is a subscription service. AdAge.com QwikFIND aaq36x

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