KCET Plans to Air Additional Episodes of Latino Series

Media
by Claudia Peschiutta

KCET-TV (Channel 28) and El Norte Productions plan to put out nine new episodes of the much-publicized primetime drama "American Family" this summer.

The series, about a Latino family living in L.A., has not been a huge hit for KCET but has brought the local public television a lot of support from the Public Broadcasting System and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The nine additional episodes, which are scheduled to begin airing on July 17, will complete the show's first season.

"PBS, I think very wisely, decided that there was an opportunity to continue the series in July, when there's very little competition from the other networks," said Mary Mazur, KCET's senior vice president of programming and production. "We can continue to run through the summer and build an audience."

"American Family," which was rejected by CBS, generated a lot of publicity for KCET and PBS when it came on the air earlier this year. Despite the initial interest, the show has not had a significant impact on KCET's ratings, Mazur said.

Yet, the show is attracting new viewers. The number of Hispanic viewers tuned into public television stations in prime time shot up 175 percent during the first four episodes, according to PBS.

The cast of the show includes Edward James Olmos and Raquel Welch.

So, will there be a second season for "American Family"?

"It's premature to speculate," Mazur said.

Bucking an Ad Trend

Slowdown in the overall advertising industry has boosted fortunes at Encino-based Inter/Media Advertising.

The advertising and direct-response marketing agency is expanding its staff and expects to double its annual billings this year to nearly $200 million, thanks to a handful of new accounts and increased spending from established clients.

The reason for the boost at Inter/Media: its focus on direct marketing.

Bad times for other media mean good times for the direct-marketing industry, said agency president Robert Yallen. Not only is there more advertising time available for last-minute buys but cost-conscious advertisers will often turn to direct marketing because it offers quantifiable results, he explained.

"We flourish during these times," Yallen said. "Everything we do, we know if we succeed or fail."

Inter/Media has hired 10 employees in the last month and plans to add 10 more soon.

The agency last week announced it would be managing media planning for online mortgage lender Ditech.com in partnership with Bcom3 Group Inc.'s Starcom MediaVest Group.

That multi-year account, along with three others Inter/Media has won over the past few months, are worth a total of about $100 million, Yallen said. He would not disclose specific financial information about individual accounts.

KCRW Goes to Washington?

KCRW-FM (89.9) may move its battle against proposed royalty fees for online Webcasters to Washington.

Executives at the Santa Monica-based public radio station, including General Manager Ruth Seymour, are considering going to the capital to lobby against a plan that would require online broadcasters to pay songwriters a fee of up to 14 cents per piece per listener. The Library of Congress is expected to rule on the matter later this month.

"We'll push every button that we can to get it overturned," said Will Lewis, a KCRW management consultant.

The station, which streams news and music on three Internet channels, has been running on-air editorials about the issue, recorded by Webcasters and music industry professionals. KCRW also participated in a "Day of Silence" on May 1 during which Webcasters turned off their streams in protest.

KCRW Webmaster Jason Georges said the editorials might also begin popping up whenever someone tries to listen to something on the station's Internet archive.

SAG on TNT

The drama continues on Turner Network Television.

The cable television network identified by the tag "We Know Drama" has renewed its exclusive telecast rights agreement for the annual Screen Actors Guild Awards through 2005.

The show "offers great live drama" and is a "valued extension of our brand," Steve Koonin, executive vice president and general manager of TNT, said in a statement.

The film and television awards show this year generated its highest ratings since coming to TNT in 1998.

Living It Up

Fine Living has established a partnership with the Wall Street Journal to produce a one-hour special set to air this fall on the L.A.-based cable television network.

The special, which has yet to be named, will be based on content from the newspaper's "Weekend Journal" section, which appears on Fridays and covers such topics as art, fashion and travel.

Since its launch in March, Fine Living, E.W. Scripps Co.'s newest cable network, has produced programs in partnership with two other publications, Road & Track and Food & Wine magazines.

Awards Wrap-Up

Joseph Cerrell, chief executive of local PR firm Cerrell Associates Inc., was selected to receive the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations Inc.'s Ellis Island Medal of Honor... The Los Angeles Press Club will give out its first "Daniel Pearl Award for Courage and Integrity" to the slain journalist's family at its annual awards dinner, which will be held on June 22.



Staff reporter Claudia Peschiutta can be reached at (323) 549-5225 ext. 229, or at cpeschiutta@labusinessjournal.com.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.