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Show Business Paper Raises Curtain on Makeover

The 78-year-old Hollywood Reporter’s facelift could help it step into the spotlight.


A bold logo, dominant cover story and multi-photo pages were cast in a design that “better reflects the emerging global dynamic of the film and entertainment marketplace,” according to Editor Elizabeth Guider.


Long considered an also-ran in Variety’s shadow, the Reporter now has a chance to leapfrog the competition, according to one insider. The re-launch includes an update to the advertising side of the publication at a time when Variety is distracted by owner Reed Elsevier Group Plc’s plan to sell the publication.


The Reporter’s strategy is based on selling ads outside the smug confines of show business. For example, in keeping with the globalization of entertainment, the Reporter has opened offices in Hong Kong and Beijing. In addition, the publication plans to attract mainstream consumer brands.


“It’s an attractive book and that makes it new for consumer sales,” said Eric Mika, publisher. “We know that automotive, fashion, jewelry and time piece advertisers have all expressed a desire to be front-and-center in Hollywood, so we expect to see growth in those areas.”


The re-launch comes amid swift declines in print advertising. For the Hollywood trades, two dependable types of ads the box office premiere announcement and the congratulatory page for business partners are growing more elusive, Mika said.


To compensate for those trends, the Reporter will sell its Web traffic aggressively and will bring exclusive research from parent Nielsen Co. to advertisers in the role of a consultant.


“It’s not the most fun time for advertising in our industry, but it’s going to bounce back,” he said. “We’ve already seen that in May with a lot of enthusiasm for the re-launch. In the last two weeks we’ve had a significant sales bounce.”



English Wins Arbitron

Breaking a longstanding trend, an English-language station tops the charts in the L.A. radio market. For Arbitron Inc.’s Winter 2008 rankings, KIIS-FM (102.7) earned a 5.0 overall share of radio listeners, beating out former champ KLVE-FM (107.5), which finished with a 4.7 share.


Clear Channel Communication’s KIIS has a top 40 format, anchored by morning DJ Ryan Seacrest. KLVE plays Spanish romantic music, a formula that had delivered first-place finishes in the previous two Arbitron measurements. KLVE is the L.A. flagship station for Univision Communications Inc.


Rounding out the top five, news talker KFI-AM (640) placed third with a 4.4 share, KBUE-FM (105.5) came in fourth at 4.1 with a regional Mexican format and KPWR-FM (105.9) reported a 3.8 share for a rap-powered fifth place showing.


On the business side, the Southern California Broadcasters Association reported an 8 percent decline in radio advertising during January, but noted the market should improve as the end of the Writer’s Guild strike puts money back in the local economy. However, given the drain of money from traditional media to the Internet, radio salespeople will face headwinds for the rest of 2008.


The new Arbitron ratings, released April 29, represent the last data point with the company’s “diary” method of measurement, where people write down their listening habits. Starting in June, Arbitron will collect ratings from the Portable People Meter, a cell phone-sized device that automatically tracks a person’s listening behavior. Initial PPM reports will come in July and August, with the first major report due Oct. 8.


“While PPM measurements differ from diary results, analysis of existing PPM markets demonstrates that the core listeners, the ones that account for the majority of listening to any station, exhibit virtually the same usage patterns in PPM as they did in the diaries,” according to a statement from the SCBA.

“While much of L.A. programming is already preparing for PPM, expect major strategic shifts in programming, promotions, rate structures and revenue streams after Oct. 8,” the statement said.


Telephonic TV

Sony Pictures Television in Culver City has launched the Minisode Network, a video distribution system for mobile phones that features six-minute versions of popular TV shows.


The ad-supported network is carried on Sprint TV, the mobile video operation of Kansas-based Sprint Nextel Corp.


Advertising consists of 15-second snippets before the shows. American Honda Motor Corp., based in Torrance, has signed on as the debut sponsor for the system. The carmaker has developed a campaign, titled “Fit,” adapted to the quick-hit style of the mobile medium.


“The Minisode Network, which was designed to be a new and interesting way to bring our library to the digital world, has quickly become hugely popular with both users and advertisers,” said Eric Berger, vice-president of mobile entertainment at Sony.


The network carries 21 series, including “Married … with Children,” “Fantasy Island,” “Sheena” and an animated version of the “Dilbert” comic strip.

Besides telephonic distribution, the shows also appear on MySpace and Crackle.com.

Staff reporter Joel Russell can be reached at

jrussell@labusinessjournal.com

or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 237.

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