The Week

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Time Warner's first-quarter 2005 results released last week show continued growth at most of its network operations, which include Turner Broadcasting channels CNN, TBS, TNT and Cartoon Network along with pay-TV company HBO and the WB broadcast network. Ad revenue at the networks unit grew 8% ($48 million), which included a 12% climb at Turner networks. Those figures were dragged down by the WB, which saw ad revenue decline 5%. For the quarter, total Time Warner revenue increased 3% over the same period last year to $10.5 billion. Time Inc. was up 8% in revenue thanks mainly to its women's-magazine group. America Online was the only unit that did not increase revenue due to lower subscriber revenue, but its ad revenue did improve. Rival media conglomerate News Corp. released its fiscal-third-quarter results last week, which revealed its net income declined 7.8% because of increased costs at its Fox broadcast network, as well as some restructuring of an alliance with Cablevision Systems Corp. Revenue for the quarter was up 17% because of stronger cable advertising at FX and Fox News (see related story, P. 71).

No late fees bites Blockbuster's earnings

Blockbuster reported a first-quarter loss last week, due to spending on its "No Late Fees" ad campaign and its online rental service. The company, the biggest video rental chain in the country, also lost revenue from not collecting late fees as it has in past years. In a conference call about the earnings, the company's largest shareholder, Carl Icahn, said the chain had been on a "spending spree" with shareholders' money. He criticized Blockbuster CEO John Antioco for accepting a $7 million bonus last year and said the makeup of the company's board should change. He has nominated himself and two entertainment industry veterans to the board. Shareholders will vote at the company's annual meeting this week.

Is Carmen Electra two-timing Tag with Axe?

The bidding on eBay for a date with Carmen Electra-offered to males ages 15-20 by Gillette Co.'s Tag body spray-reached $17,700 last week. But it appears the 33-year-old co-star of MTV's "Till Death Do Us Part: Carmen & Dave" might be stepping out not only on co-star/husband/rocker Dave Narvarro, but also on Tag. Rival Unilever produced a photo appearing to show Ms. Electra posing provocatively with a can of Axe during a party for the leading body-spray brand April 30 following the "Young Hollywood Awards" even as teenagers were running up her eBay price on behalf of Tag. A Gillette spokeswoman said she found it "interesting" Unilever would take an interest in the auction, proceeds of which go to National Prostate Cancer Coalition. AdAge.com QwikFIND aaq53s

Project Apollo to move forward without clients

Arbitron and VNU are going ahead with a scaled-down, 6,250-household national pilot of their Project Apollo system for measuring return on marketing investment without a signed contract from any clients, including initial backer of the concept Procter & Gamble Co. Plans call for panelists to be equipped with Arbitron's Portable People Meters to measure exposure to a wide array of media and also use hand-held scanners to record their purchases, merging the information into a single-source database to show how various forms of marketing affect sales. Though other marketers balked at the initially proposed seven-figure price tag, P&G backed the initial announcement of Apollo, holding a summit in Cincinnati in November for prospective clients and participating in one-on-one pitches. A spokeswoman indicated P&G still will be a client. AdAge.com QwikFIND aa53q

FYI...

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Executive Chairman Barry S. Sternlicht resigned last week, six months after tapping former Coca-Cola President-Chief Operating Officer Steven J. Heyer as his successor as Starwood's CEO. AdAge.com QwikFIND aaq54m ... Kevin Mayer, advertising director of struggling Mitsubishi Motors North America, resigned last week-the fifth marketing executive or manager in the past six months. AdAge.com QwikFIND aaq53v ... Molson Coors Brewing Co.'s Molson USA awarded creative responsibilities to independent agency BrainStorm Group, Toronto, following a capabilities assessment. Creative was handled by MDC Partners' Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami. BrainStorm has for the past two years created promotional campaigns for Molson USA, and continues to do so.

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