It's looking increasingly rosy for Mel Karmazin's bid to justify his gamble to forgo some $250 million in the upfront and bet the scatter market would lean his way. It has. CBS is the only network with primetime inventory available in March, people familiar with the matter said, as ABC, Fox and NBC are sold out. "He got lucky," says more than one media executive. One result: CBS should have an easier time selling the NCAA tournament next month.
Cable's growing Game Show Network on April 15 launches a new version of the 1980s popular "Press Your Luck," where contestants tried to avoid pesky "whammys" that meant lost dough. The new primetime show will be called "Whammy! The All New Press Your Luck." GSN also may re-air the revival of "The 25,000 Pyramid" hosted by Donny Osmond that hits syndication this fall.
CBS isn't the only Viacom division that may find itself on a Mel Karmazin dice roll as he returns to head the Infinity radio group. In a memo last week, Infinity President Dan Mason said Arbitron has "taken an unreasonable position" in contract negotiations and warned execs to prepare to sell without ratings. With no ratings guarantees, advertisers could get cold feet. Mason still hopes to reach an agreement, though.