The audible thump of cable's slam dunk echoed through the Cable Advertising Bureau's annual meeting last week. None other than AOL Time Warner's Dick Parsons took the stage and proudly announced that Turner Network Television's first-ever telecast of the NBA All Star Game Feb. 9 drew the largest-ever cable audience for a basketball game. According to Nielsen Media Research, it scored a 9.8, outperforming all broadcast and cable for the time period. But was Turner or Michael Jordan the draw? It was Jordon's final NBA All-Star Game appearance, according to his Airness, who was feted with a halftime farewell. Most likely, it was the game, a 155-145 double-overtime thriller.
Viacom Chairman-CEO Sumner Redstone says he is negotiating to retain President-Chief Operating Officer Mel Karmazin when his contract expires this year. In an analyst call, Redstone pointedly tried to calm concerns about the future of Karmazin, whom many investors see as key to the success of the Viacom/CBS merger. Redstone says both men are working "very cooperatively" with a negotiating committee to reach agreement on Karmazin's new contract. Viacom fourth-quarter and year-end results were helped by improved ad sales at CBS and its cable networks.