The Week

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AOL TW to revamp its cable division

Troubled media giant AOL Time Warner got a boost Aug. 21 as shares jumped 7% in the wake of news it would restructure its Time Warner Entertainment cable and programming partnership with AT&T and Comcast Corp. The deal gives AOL Time Warner full ownership of the content assets, and splits cable assets into a subsidiary to be called Time Warner Cable, for which an IPO is planned. For its stake, AT&T-whose cable operations are expected to be acquired by Comcast-will receive $2.1 billion in cash, $1.5 billion of AOL Time Warner common stock and a 21% stake in the new entity. The news prompted movement in other cable stocks, as investors anticipated further consolidation in the sector. But bad news continues to dog the company, as credit-rating agency Standard & Poor's announced Aug. 21 it placed AOL Time Warner's debt on review, and changed its long-term rating on all AOL Time Warner businesses on "CreditWatch" with negative implications.

Nissan launches new brand effort

Nissan North America will roll out a new Nissan brand campaign about its revitalized product line and its comeback from near bankruptcy a few years ago. The work, from TBWA/Chiat/Day, Playa del Rey, Calif., introduces "Shift" as the umbrella tag. TV spots focus on people shifting their lives and activities. In one, a double-amputee rock climber is shown struggling upward. A text line says "Shift Obstacles." Breaking Sept. 3 on national broadcast and cable networks, it replaces Nissan's "Driven" tag, introduced in 1998. "Shift" is a version of Nissan's global tag "Shift the Future." QwikFIND aan90y

TiVo revenue surges on narrowed loss

On the strength of broadened distribution from an increasingly robust licensing business, TiVo reported a sixfold increase in revenue for the second quarter ended July 31. The purveyor of digital video recording technology said revenue for the quarter came in at $23.9 million vs $4.1 for the same period a year ago. The company posted a net loss of $3.3 million vs. a loss of $34.5 million a year ago. During this quarter, TiVo added 42,000 net subscribers, bringing its total subscriber base to roughly 464,000. The company also admitted that a reaudit of its 2002 fiscal year financial statements by new auditor KPMG-Arthur Andersen was dismissed last May-revealed an error that management will certify to have no affect on cash, revenue or operating losses.

Publicis, Bcom3 merger set for Sept.

Bcom3 group and Publicis Groupe on Aug. 21 said Publicis' acquisition of Bcom3 cleared the Securities and Exchange Commission. A Bcom3 shareholder vote is set for Sept. 20. The deal is expected to close immediately following the vote. The merger will create the world's fourth-largest advertising concern. QWIKFind aan91d

Draft's Rednor to take IPG post

Jordan rednor, president-chief operating officer at Interpublic Group of Cos.' DraftWorldwide, New York, is leaving his post at the marketing-services agency to assume an unspecified position at the holding company, Mr. Rednor confirmed. Mr. Rednor, who led Draft's expansion over the last five years, will report directly to Interpublic Chairman-CEO John J. Dooner Jr. The scope and role of Mr. Rednor's position are yet to be determined, and details are still being worked out, Mr. Rednor said. It is still unclear whether Draft will fill the post Mr. Rednor is vacating by an outsider or insider. "Draft is currently reviewing a reorganization plan to determine the most efficient way to operate the company going forward," Mr. Rednor said. Howard Draft will remain chairman-CEO of the agency.

Ad groups protest ruling on Paxil

Ad groups are warning that a California judge's order requiring GlaxoSmithKline remove wording that Paxil isn't habit-forming from its $65.1 million ad campaign, threatens to bring state-by-state second-guessing of Food and Drug Administration ad decisions. "We as taxpayers invest millions every year to maintain the FDA as a cutting edge resource and with the stroke of a pen, the judge overrides all that expertise," said Dick O'Brien, exec VP of the American Association of Advertising Agencies. GlaxoSmithKline said it will appeal the decision reached in a suit filed by Paxil users who claim the drug causes dependency and severe withdrawal symptoms. The Justice Department has asked for a re-examination of the order. Interpublic's McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, handles Paxil.


Viacom-owned Infinity Broadcasting Corp. named John Fullam president and chief operating officer. He succeeds Dan Mason, who is leaving to spend more time with his family but will remain a consultant, according to the company. Mr. Fullam, most recently senior regional VP at rival Clear Channel Communications, will oversee Infinity's 183 radio stations. ... Bayer Corp. is conducting a pitch for a line of products used by diabetes sufferers to measure their glucose levels, which will be rebranded under the Ascensia moniker. The rebranding is expected to roll out in November. Five agencies are bidding for the $20 million business. The representative did not name the agencies. ... WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather may not yet be out of the woods in the congressional fight over the White House youth anti-drug contract, but its biggest nemesis is being ousted from Congress. U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., lost a primary bid for re-election to Rep. John Linder. Redistricting had put the two GOP congressmen in the same district. Rep. Barr, who has accused Ogilvy of having a "sweetheart" deal with the government and of "fraud," remains in office until January. Rep. Barr also sponsored the amendment to the drug office's appropriations barring payment to Ogilvy after Oct. 1. The Senate has yet to act on the bill.

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