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Tom - The New York Times is reporting that CBS, which will broadcast Super Bowl XLIV on Sunday, has sold 30 seconds of commercial time in the game to Focus on the Family, an evangelical organization known for conservative views on subjects like abortion and gay marriage. The commercial is to feature Tim Tebow, the college football star, and his mother, Pam, discussing their anti-abortion positions. Neither Focus on the Family nor CBS will say what the organization paid for the commercial. Estimates are that CBS is charging Super Bowl sponsors $2.4 million to $2.8 million for each 30-second spot in the game — not a record, but higher than had been expected given the weak economy.
Linda - Until this year, the most controversial stands taken in Super Bowl spots have been against smoking cigarettes, abusing drugs or eating food with high cholesterol. That is because the networks that have broadcast the game had policies for decades against accepting advocacy ads from groups other than supporters of political candidates. But CBS, which broadcasts the game every three years in rotation with Fox and NBC, changed its policy in 2008 to accept ads that sell opinions rather than products. Since then, CBS has run issue ads on subjects like health care reform and the environment.
Tom - Cable and Broadcasting is reporting that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has filed a complaint with the FCC against, in essence, the entire Public Broadcasting System. At issue: the question of whether Sesame Street is selling a sanitized version of the egg industry to kids in its programming, while taking sponsorship dollars from the American Egg Board (AEB). The group wants fines and or sanctions levied against stations carrying the iconic show. In its letter to the FCC, PETA said that the stations had violated FCC rules against host-selling, and against promotional announcements in kids shows. On two different occasions last fall, PETA claims, a promotion for the AEB, a sponsor of Sesame Street, was embedded in an episode of the show. The promotion in question was a segment featuring kids visiting a farm, followed by footage of a clean and efficient processing plant, and kids eating and praising eggs. Left out, PETA says, was what it claims is the actual treatment of the animals. PETA has long detailed the conditions for most chickens, including having their beaks clipped and being kept in unsanitary conditions.
Linda - PETA has also filed a complaint against the AEB with the Federal Trade Commission for false advertising and deceptive practices, arguing that the egg board's claim that eggs are produced humanely from happy hens “does not survive even the mildest scrutiny.” The complaints represent a ratcheting-up of PETA's campaign against the sponsorship. The group launched an online campaign in November, asking members to voice their displeasure to the show's producers in an attempt to get the show to drop the AEB sponsorship. The producers refused, according to Lindsay Rajt, who manages the campaigns department for PETA; Sesame Street's producers said they had gotten assurances that the chickens in the segment were being treated humanely.
Tom - According to the findings of a new Adweek Media/Harris Poll, of 2,136 U.S. adults surveyed online between December 14 and 16, 2009 by Harris Interactive, the era of Americans reading a daily newspaper each and every day is coming to an end. Just two in five U.S. adults (43%) say they read a daily newspaper, either online or in print almost every day. Just over seven in ten Americans (72%) say they read one at least once a week while 81% read a daily newspaper at least once a month. One in ten adults (10%) say they never read a daily newspaper. One reason for the dying of the daily newspaper, says the report, is the graying of the daily readership. Almost two-thirds of those aged 55 and older say they still read a daily newspaper almost every day. The younger one is, however, the less often they read newspapers. But less than one quarter of those aged 18-34 say they read a newspaper almost every day while 17% in this age group say they never read a daily newspaper.
Linda - One potential business model that newspapers are exploring is charging a monthly fee to read a daily newspaper's content online. However, 77% of online adults say they would not be willing to pay anything to read a newspaper's content online. While some are willing to pay, one in five online adults would only pay between $1 and $10 a month for this online content and only 5% would pay more than $10 a month. The report concludes that the struggles of the daily newspaper will continue as Americans have more and more ways to find the news content they need and want. According to the report, the challenge for newspapers will be discovering a way to get their content to people and make money doing so.
Tom - The media reform group freepress has released a press release noting that on Monday, in an "interview" conducted via YouTube as a follow-up to his State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama reaffirmed his strong commitment to maintaining an open and neutral Internet. Said President Obama"I'm a big believer in Net Neutrality" "I campaigned on this. I continue to be a strong supporter of it. My FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has indicated that he shares the view that we've got to keep the Internet open, that we don't want to create a bunch of gateways that prevent somebody who doesn't have a lot of money but has a good idea from being able to start their next YouTube or their next Google on the Internet."
Linda - Obama's answer came in response to a question from James Earlywine of Indianapolis, who asked: "An open Internet is a powerful engine for economic growth and new jobs. Letting large companies block and filter online content and services would stifle needed growth. What is your commitment to keeping the Internet open and neutral in America?"
Answered Obama: "This is something we're committed to," "We're getting pushback, obviously, from some of the bigger carriers who would like to be able to charge more fees and extract more money from wealthier customers. But we think that runs counter to the whole spirit of openness that has made the Internet such a powerful engine for not only economic growth, but also for the generation of ideas and creativity." YouTube collected questions and votes for five days after the State of the Union. The crowd-sourced interview was the first one given by the president since his speech. Earlywine’s question received more than 1,300 votes, placing it at the top of the list in the "jobs and economy" category.
Tom - Media Daily News is reporting that the Chicago Tribune will trim an inch from the width of its newspaper beginning Feb. 8. Although the newspaper will remain the same length as before, the new format will involve some changes to the paper's design, format and editorial content. The transition to a smaller broadsheet width will entail changes, including moving columns and shrinking some headlines and photos slightly. However, the font size for articles will remain the same. Several comic strips have been dropped, and some news ones added as part of the shift. The announcement comes as the Tribune Co. struggles to exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, which it entered over a year ago, in December 2008. It was forced to declare bankruptcy after proving unable to service nearly $8 billion in debt assumed in a 2007 transaction that took the company private.
Linda - In late November 2009, a bankruptcy judge gave Tribune until the end of February to come up with a reorganization plan, but this decision is being challenged by senior creditors led by JPMorgan Chase. JPMorgan's move to take control of the company is being challenged, in turn, by junior creditors who allege the whole deal was insolvent from the start and thus a "fraudulent conveyance." The size and layout of newspapers has been one area where Tribune Co. has tried to trim costs. In June 2008, the company revealed that it would cut editorial content at all its newspapers, including the flagship Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and Baltimore Sun, so that at least half of each edition is advertising.