multichannel connect
careers
all access

News

Scorned TV Fans Often Get Results

11/16/2003 7:00 PM Eastern

They sure do pack a fury, those dedicated followers of favorite cable shows. Executives at USA Network (La Femme Nikita) and sister network Sci Fi Channel (Farscape), to name two, have felt the flames when they dared to cancel certain fan faves.

USA actually brought Nikita back for several shows after 25,000 e-mails reportedly poured in.

Recently, worried fans of Showtime's sci-fi drama Jeremiah were heading for window ledges — and computer keyboards — after Showtime's Jeremiah-themed Web site and e-mail newsletter announced the "season finale" would air Nov. 7. Fans began to ask aloud: What about those eight other episodes that already were shot?.

Someone from Platinum Studios, which adapted the show from a comic book, emailed The Wire on Nov. 6 to say Platinum had already received hundreds of emails and phone calls and so had Showtime and Jeremiah's producer, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.

Well, last week, a Jeremiah fan site called "The Abyss" pointed out Showtime had updated its Web site to declare that more Jeremiah episodes were coming in 2004 and to stay tuned for details.

Fans of another cable show, the BBC's long-running soap EastEnders, were scheduled to take to the streets of midtown Manhattan last Friday, hoping Today's Al Roker would help them air their continued outrage over BBC America's decision to stop airing new episodes on Saturdays. The last block aired Sept. 27.

There, too, hope remains alive. A "Save EastEnders" fan site — which claimed to have nearly 15,000 signatures on an online petition, largely from expatriate Brits — posted a "newsflash" that BBCA would announce an alternative outlet for EE shows in one to two weeks. BBCA officials will only say they're exploring alternatives and don't have anything to announce yet.

Translation: Stay tuned.

C-SPAN Fans Unite

Fans of C-SPAN and its progeny are preemptively preparing for assaults on carriage of their beloved channels.

Citizens for C-SPAN is adding more channel-saving strategies and tools to its eponymous Web site in advance of possible drops of C-SPAN, C-SPAN2 and C-SPAN3 as operators shift bandwidth around to add new products.

"We see significant threats to C-SPAN carriage" as cable changes its product mix, explained Paul Miller, a marketing consultant and one of the 200 members of the fan group. As cable launches video-on-demand, voice services and expanded Internet services, there is a disincentive to carry non-revenue channels, he noted. C-SPAN is funded by the cable industry, so it can't criticize or aggressively lobby its masters, Miller added.

Also, MSO-owned programming can get priority over the public-affairs programmer.

The new Web site tools include contact listings of cable executives and links to MSO sites, so fans can easily e-mail requests for C-SPAN additions or retention.

Timely Note

Thanks to partisan acrimony over a Senate filibuster, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) had to ditch last Thursday's cable hearing featuring Cox Communications Inc. CEO Jim Robbins and ESPN chief George Bodenheimer.

McCain feared Democrats would spoil the event by invoking a rule that bars committees from meeting for more than two hours away from the Senate floor.

McCain's decision was a bit of bad timing for the Broadcast Cable Financial Management Association. The Des Plaines, Ill.-based group arranged a conference call two days before the hearing that included Insight Communications Co. CEO Michael Willner, Legg Mason media analyst Blair Levin, National Cable & Telecommunications Association lawyer Diane Burstein and cable policy veteran Steve Effros.

The call's subject: McCain's hearing on the recently released General Accounting Office cable report and issues closely related thereto. About halfway through the 75-minute event, McCain's staff sent the e-mail postponing the hearing.

An alert reporter advanced the missive to Effros, who was moderating the call, on a hunch that Effros just might be a closet multitasker. Mission accomplished: Effros immediately announced receipt of the e-mail and disclosed its contents to all conference call participants.

Cheers for Churchill

Sex and The City star Sarah Jessica Parker spoke volumes about the respect and admiration she has for Time Warner Inc. entertainment and networks group chairman Jeff Bewkes during his Broadcasting & Cable Hall Of Fame induction last week.

But quoting legendary British statesman Sir Winston Churchill would not have been part of her presentation, had it not been for a Home Box Office executive who included it into her prepared speech.

During her introduction speech for Bewkes, Parker mused about the inclusion of a Churchill quote written into her introduction remarks that meeting Bewkes "was like opening a bottle of champagne and knowing him was like drinking it."

Parker admitted that she hadn't thought of the Churchill quote but called it "so apt" in describing the former HBO chairman. A Time Warner source confirmed that an HBO executive slipped the Churchill quote into the prepared speech.

Contributors: Linda Haugsted, Ted Hearn, R. Thomas Umstead.

September