December 16, 2019

Returning to Daytime TV, Vieira Will Host Talk Show

NBC’s syndication division did not say whether it had completed any deals with local television stations. But executives involved with the production of “The Meredith Vieira Show” expressed confidence that stations, including the 10 owned by NBC in big cities, would snap up the rights to the show in short order.

Daytime television, with its blend of information and entertainment, is terrain Ms. Vieira knows well: she was one of the original hosts of “The View,” the ABC talk show that Barbara Walters started in 1997. Nine years later, she signed off “The View” to succeed Katie Couric on “Today,” and helped keep that morning show on top of the ratings. Ms. Vieira left “Today” in 2011, exhausted by the early-morning hours and eager to spend more time with her family. She remained with NBC as a special correspondent. (The “Today” ratings winning streak ended 10 months later.)

By persuading her to return to daytime talk, NBC is betting that Ms. Vieira can help prop up the ratings for local stations at a time of increasing competition for the audience’s attention. Syndicated talk shows can be lucrative for their hosts and corporate backers. But they can also be immensely challenging, as Ms. Couric has demonstrated in her first year as the host of “Katie,” a product of the Disney/ABC Domestic Television division of the Walt Disney Company.

Since its debut last September, “Katie” has not lived up to the expectations of Ms. Couric or the stations that paid a handsome license fee for it. While the show has been renewed through next summer, many syndication observers expect it to end at that point, either because Ms. Couric will choose to do something else — she has been unhappy at times with the fluffy nature of daytime TV — or because stations will choose to put on a different show.

If “Katie” ends in 2014, some stations (which license syndicated shows from a variety of companies, sometimes regardless of their own corporate affiliation) could pick “The Meredith Vieira Show” as a replacement — which would be an interesting wrinkle, given the intertwined history of the two women.

NBC, however, tried on Tuesday to manage expectations about “The Meredith Vieira Show,” having concluded that Ms. Couric and Disney excessively hyped “Katie” ahead of time.

The company will most likely seek out early afternoon time slots for the show, not the late afternoon slots that are typically highly rated and more highly sought. Also, the show could be televised in the late mornings by some local stations, putting it into direct competition with Ms. Vieira’s old show “The View.”

In a statement on Tuesday, Ms. Vieira said she wanted the show to embody what she called the “three H’s”: heat, heart and humor. “And speaking of the heart, I want to thank my husband, Richard, and kids, Ben, Gabe and Lily, for strongly encouraging me to take this incredible opportunity,” she said, and added, “or else they really just want to get me out of the house.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/10/business/media/meredith-vieira-to-return-to-daytime-tv-as-talk-show-host.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Companies Hired Less and Manufacturing Growth Slowed in April

Businesses added 119,000 employees to payrolls last month, according to the ADP National Employment Report released on Wednesday, short of economists’ expectations for 150,000 jobs and the smallest gain since last September.

The slowdown was primarily due to the effect of tighter fiscal policy through a combination of an increase in payroll taxes at the start of the year and the $85 billion government spending cuts that took effect across the board in March, said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, which jointly develops the ADP report.

“They are starting to bite and starting to weaken growth,” said Zandi. “It’s affecting all industries and almost all company sizes.”

The Federal Reserve also expressed concern about the drag on growth linked to fiscal belt-tightening and said the central bank could lift or taper the pace of its asset purchases depending on the economy’s performance.

The Fed is currently buying $85 billion a month in bonds as it tries to spur the recovery.

After reaccelerating in the first quarter, recent data suggests overall economic growth cooled heading into the second quarter, a familiar pattern seen in past years that has become known as a “spring swoon.”

This is partly due to the fiscal tightening, though growth would likely have pulled back regardless after a stronger first quarter, said David Sloan, economist at 4Cast Ltd in New York.

The U.S. economy grew at a 2.5 percent rate in the first quarter, but analysts do not expect that pace to last, with most anticipating the recovery is running at around 2 percent.

“The fact that fiscal policy is being tightened is preventing the recovery from accelerating into a strong one. It’s just keeping the recovery at a relatively modest pace,” said Sloan.

The day’s data helped drive Wall Street lower, with the benchmark SP 500 ending down nearly 1 percent.

Two separate reports on manufacturing also showed employment slowed in April as growth in the sector pulled back. Analysts said there was some risk Friday’s larger employment report from the government could disappoint.

Financial data firm Markit said its final U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index slipped to 52.1 from 54.6 in March. It was the lowest final reading since October.

That was echoed by a separate report from the Institute for Supply Management that showed the sector expanded only modestly, with its index coming in at 50.7, down from 51.3.

Readings above 50 indicate expansion. Regional reports also showed a slowdown in factory activity in April in some areas while some, including the Midwest, fell into contraction.

Another report showed construction spending fell 1.7 percent to an annual rate of $856.72 billion, the lowest since August, according to the Commerce Department. The drop could cause the first-quarter economic growth estimate to be trimmed from a first reading of 2.5 percent.

Demand for cars also waned in April, with U.S. auto sales slowing to their lowest monthly pace since last fall.

Focus will turn to Friday’s jobs report from the Labor Department, which is expected to show overall nonfarm payrolls increased by 145,000, an improvement over the paltry 88,000 seen in March. Private payrolls are expected to have risen by 160,000.

Underlying jobs growth is now likely around 125,000 a month, Zandi said, down from what looked like a pace of 175,000 at the beginning of the year. March private payrolls from ADP were revised down to an increase of 131,000 from the previously reported 158,000.

Economists sometimes tweak their payrolls forecasts following the ADP report, though the private-sector report does not always accurately predict the government figures.

Since ADP overhauled its employment report late last year, it has missed the government figures by an average of 40,000 a month in either direction, according to Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.

That is better than the 58,000 average miss in the previous 12 months, but with only six months’ worth of the new ADP report, the history is not yet conclusive, said O’Sullivan.

(Additional reporting by Richard Leong in New York and Lucia Mutikani in Washington; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2013/05/01/business/01reuters-usa-economy.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Brazil Opens Inquiry Into Claims of Wrongdoing by Ex-President

The inquiry, which was announced in the capital, Brasília, on Friday and comes after several months of analyzing testimony, opens a new phase in what has arguably been Brazil’s largest corruption scandal, already involving the conviction of Mr. da Silva’s powerful former chief of staff, José Dirceu de Oliveira e Silva, on conspiracy and bribery charges last year.

The move by the Public Ministry, which asked the federal police to carry out the investigation, is thought to be the first time that Mr. da Silva has been directly investigated in connection to the scheme, called the mensalão, or big monthly allowance, for the regular payments that some lawmakers received. The scandal emerged in 2005, during Mr. da Silva’s first term as president. At 67, he remains a towering figure in Brazilian politics.

Marcos Valério de Souza, a businessman who received a 40-year sentence last year after he was found to have operated much of the embezzlement scheme, said in testimony last September that Mr. da Silva and Antonio Palocci, a former finance minister, negotiated in 2005 a multimillion-dollar payment with the former president of a Portuguese telecommunications company.

The funds, according to Mr. de Souza, were channeled from a supplier of the company, Portugal Telecom, based in Macau, the former Portuguese colony that is now a special administrative region of China, to accounts of advertising executives in Brazil who worked on campaigns for the Workers’ Party. He also said that the funds were used to pay campaign-related debts.

A spokesman for Instituto Lula, the former president’s institute in São Paulo, said Saturday that Mr. da Silva had not been formally notified of the investigation. He declined to comment further. When Mr. de Souza’s testimony was made public last year, Mr. da Silva dismissed it, saying, “I cannot believe in lies.”

Portugal Telecom, which has large operations in Brazil, did not respond to requests for comment.

While several political figures, including José Genoino Guimarães Neto, the former president of the Workers’ Party, received sentences in November for their roles in the vote-buying scheme, none have gone to prison. Lawyers for the defendants have been maneuvering to delay the Supreme Court from formally publishing its findings from the trial, a step that is needed for those sentenced to go to jail.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/07/world/americas/brazil-opens-inquiry-into-vote-buying-claims.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Split U.S. Economy in Data

Despite a measure of caution on the part of consumers, new data on Friday suggested that the economy had underlying strength. Factories reported a healthy gain in output in February, and inflation remained under control, even though gasoline prices have been rising sharply.

Led by the automobile sector, industrial production jumped 0.7 percent in February, the biggest gain in three months, the Federal Reserve said. Economists had been expecting a 0.4 percent rise.

By contrast, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s preliminary reading for consumer sentiment in March showed a marked drop; the index fell to 71.8, from 77.6 in February. That was its lowest level since December 2011.

The split in the data underscores the wider crosscurrents buffeting the economy.

On one hand, the stock market is near record levels, big companies are reporting strong profits and the labor market seems to be finally gaining some steam, with better data last week and this week on unemployment. In particular, the addition of 236,000 new jobs in February spurred hopes that the economy was finally producing enough jobs to lower the unemployment rate, which has been stuck at just under 8 percent since last September.

In recent days, many economists have raised their estimates for growth in the first quarter in light of other signs, like the move by businesses to increase inventories that fell in the final quarter of 2012. The housing sector has also been strong — a trend that may get more confirmation next week, when new data on housing starts and home sales will be released.

Still, consumers are being hit by the restoration of full Social Security taxes, which went into effect in January, in addition to feeling the effects of federal spending cuts that began March 1. Many experts estimate that the federal budget cuts could cost the economy more than 700,000 jobs this year. In the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan survey, consumers were more concerned about growth in the future, rating current economic conditions more positively.

Gasoline prices have also been rising, putting additional pressure on some consumers. Higher gas prices helped lift the Consumer Price Index 0.7 percent in February, although the less volatile core reading was up 0.2 percent, according to other data released Friday by the Labor Department.

The jump in taxes and gas prices is squeezing lower-income consumers in particular, said Steve Blitz, chief economist at ITG Investment Research. Big-ticket items like homes and cars continue to sell well, for example, but otherwise-strong retail sales data out earlier this week showed that spending at restaurants declined for the second month in a row. “People who can’t afford it aren’t going out as much to eat,” he said.

“I think we’ve got two economies,” said Mr. Blitz. “The industrial economy started to pick up at the end of last year, but it doesn’t grow in lock step with consumers.”

Factory production and hiring is being bolstered in part by a rebound in China, said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist for Pantheon Macroeconomic Advisors. The Chinese economy, the world’s second-largest, slowed last summer and fall but has gained momentum more recently.

While that is good news in the long run for the American economy and the job market, it affects companies much more than consumers. “Right now, consumers are feeling something up close and personal with higher gas prices and higher taxes,” he said.

Mr. Shepherdson expects the economy to grow by more than 2 percent in the first quarter but to slow substantially in the second and third quarters as the cuts in Washington take hold.

“There will be a hit from the austerity, but the timing and extent is difficult to determine,” he said. “If you impose an enormous fiscal tightening on an economy that isn’t growing too quickly, you have to have some adverse consequences.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/16/business/economy/consumer-inflation-jumps.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

NBC’s Ratings Plummet From First to Worst

The ratings of last September through December, when NBC shocked the television industry by winning 13 of 15 weeks, have dissipated to numbers so small they have not been seen before by any broadcast network — certainly not during a rating period known as a sweeps month, when networks present their strongest programming.

When the official numbers are completed Thursday, NBC will finish this sweeps month not only far behind its regular network competitors, but also well behind the Spanish-language Univision. No broadcast network has ever before finished a television season sweeps month in fifth place.

NBC executives expected a falloff after the N.F.L. season, but last December they expressed hope that some momentum could be sustained. Now, the network is playing by the silver-linings playbook.

“This February was tough, but thankfully the fall did as well as it did,” said Jeff Bader, the chief scheduling executive for NBC. “If we had the fall we were expecting — which was an improvement, but not to be No. 1 — this month would have been a lot harder to take. This is just frustrating.”

It is also likely to be costly. NBC executives previously acknowledged that their entertainment operation has been losing hundreds of millions a year. The financial picture is exacerbated by the dearth of popular shows NBC owns that it can sell in syndication, an area that generates hundreds of millions in profits for competitors, especially CBS.

Advertising executives note that ratings this month on many shows are so low they may force NBC to offer a spate of what are known as make-goods — free commercials to cover shortfalls from rating guarantees. And in less than three months NBC must unveil a new schedule for advertisers, one that will emphasize the improvements of last fall, but will also contain a short list of holdover shows with attractive ratings to sell. That will put great pressure on the lineup of new shows NBC selects.

The network’s prime-time record this month is a litany of ratings sorrows: Shows that looked like hits last fall, like the new comedy “Go On,” have collapsed. New shows, like the comedy “1600 Penn,” started weak and have fallen fast. NBC even had the lowest-rated new network drama of all time, “Do No Harm,” which was rated 0.9 in the 18-49 category for its premiere this month and fell to 0.7 in its second week.

It was canceled after two episodes.

Perhaps more painful, because it was the favorite project of NBC’s top programmer, Robert Greenblatt, has been the fate of the Broadway drama “Smash.” Introduced last winter with great expectations — and a hugely expensive promotion campaign — “Smash” returned three weeks ago to audience indifference. Last week’s episode could not eke out even a 1 rating among viewers aged 18 through 49, the audience NBC sells to advertisers.

Over all, the network’s ratings have fallen so far that no episode of any show on NBC in February came within one million viewers of a show on PBS: “Downton Abbey.” And forget approaching the numbers of a cable hit like AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”

Nothing NBC has put on in prime time has matched even the appeal of the “Talking Dead,” a show with people simply discussing “The Walking Dead.” That show managed a 2.2 rating in the 18-49 audience. NBC’s best prime-time number for the month has been a 2.1, achieved by episodes of “The Biggest Loser” and “The Office,” a comedy that is about to go off the air.

Remarkably, the best-rated show on NBC all month has been “Saturday Night Live,” which produced two original versions in February, both times hitting a 2.3 rating, topping everything else on the network. “SNL,” though, is not even in prime time — and it is 38 years old.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/25/business/media/nbcs-ratings-plummet-from-first-to-worst.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder Blog: Homicide Tracking Site Expanding to Chicago

Homicide Watch, the Washington, D.C., Web site that tracks murders, has found another crime-ridden city to cover.

The Chicago Sun-Times is partnering with Homicide Watch’s co-founders, Laura and Chris Amico, to launch a Chicago edition. The Sun Times paid the Amicos for the technology to build the Web site. The paper plans to have its crime reporter, plus several general assignment reporters, cover murders and have interns track and follow up on these cases.

The Web site (homicides.suntimes.com) is scheduled to be up and running later this month.

Jim Kirk, The Chicago Sun Times’ editor in chief, said that the Web site’s launch is especially well-timed.

“In Chicago, the murder rate is what everybody is talking about,” said Mr. Kirk. “This is one of many initiatives we want to experiment with, in trying to bring our readers more closely together. What Homicide Watch shows is that people do like to discuss and relate to issues in their backyard.”

Mr. Kirk stressed that Homicide Watch is unlikely to generate business for the paper.

“This is not a major advertising play,” said Mr. Kirk. “This is about engaging the reader.”

The Amicos, who started Homicide Watch in September 2010, know firsthand that covering crime is not a lucrative enterprise. They struggled to attract enough financing for the Washington edition, and were forced to go on hiatus for a month last summer when funding ran low. But they were able to relaunch last September when enough money was raised through Kickstarter to pay for three interns to run the site.

The Chicago initiative marks the third version of Homicide Watch. The Trentonian, a newspaper owned by the Journal Register newspaper chain, started a Homicide Watch for Trenton in September. But Mr. Amico said that the Chicago Homicide Watch has many more murders to cover.

“Where Chicago is really different is the scale,” said Mr. Amico. “Trenton has about 20 homicides a year. Chicago had more than 500.”

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/10/homicide-tracking-site-expanding-to-chicago/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Economix Blog: Back to School, With Fewer Teachers

On Thursday I called attention to the question of how many teachers returned to work this fall. The answer seems to be: Not that many.

FLOYD NORRIS

Notions on high and low finance.

According to the monthly labor report issued today, the number of education employees in state and local governments rose by 1.12 million in September, compared to 1.16 million last September. That is the smallest increase since 2003. It is 12 percent below the peak gain, registered in 2006. (These figures are, of course, before seasonal adjustment.)

The number may be revised next month, of course, and since the figures are for the week after Labor Day, there are a few schools that were not back in session yet. There are typically small gains in October as well.

But make no mistake: School budgets are hurting. This ought to sound alarm bells in Washington.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=9f269ab13a917455d39dc069e32ea4cf

You’re the Boss Blog: Advice for Small Businesses Coping With a Natural Disaster

Last September, we published a How I Saved My Company video created by Vince Morvillo, who owns Sea Lake Yacht Sales, a dealership in Houston, that had been hit by a one-two punch. First, Hurricane Ike, a Category 4 storm, struck Texas in 2008, doing terrible damage. And then came the recession. In that video, Mr. Morvillo talked about how his company survived a period when many of his customers had higher priorities than buying a yacht.

Mr. Morvillo, a yachtsman who was born blind, has prepared a new video, above, in which he offers advice to businesses on the East Coast that may have been affected by Hurricane Irene.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=4717a6562db87e3da3bcb92c3b9bab18

DealBook: Avis Budget to Buy Avis Europe for $1 Billion

Avis Budget Group said Tuesday that it would buy Avis Europe for $1 billion, in a sign that the car rental company may be moving on from its long campaign to take over Dollar Thrifty.

The deal, which values Avis Europe at £3.15 ($5.16) per share, is set to close in October, pending the customary approvals.

Avis Budget said it had received “irrevocable” commitments from the target company’s board as well as its controlling shareholder, D’Ieteren, a publicly traded Belgian company that holds nearly 60 percent of Avis Europe.

“The transaction reunites the global operation of the Avis and Budget brands under one corporate umbrella, and is both financially and strategically compelling,” said Ronald L. Nelson, chief executive of Avis Budget Group, predicting that operating synergies would reach $30 million a year.

“Because Avis Europe and Avis Budget generally do not have operations in the same jurisdiction, the acquisition is not expected to face significant antitrust obstacles,” he said.

Antitrust obstacles have been holding back Avis’s $1.8 billion offer for Dollar Thrifty, made last September and under review by the Federal Trade Commission.

It is also being challenged by Hertz, which has offered $2.24 billion to combine with Dollar Thrifty, the fourth-largest rental car company in the United States.

Both Hertz, the second-largest, and Avis Budget, the third-largest, having been trying to rival Enterprise, which dominates the sector.

But now Avis is looking abroad.

“While Avis Budget will continue to monitor the Dollar Thrifty situation, the company’s focus squarely will be on completing and integrating the significant acquisition of Avis Europe,” the car rental firm said, noting that it had “made progress” with the Federal Trade Commission.

The deal with Avis Europe, which draws 86 percent of its revenue from France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain, would give the newly combined group yearly revenue of about $7 billion and operations in 150 countries.

The European company, listed in London and based in the British town of Bracknell, employs more than 5,000 people and reported revenue of more than 1.5 billion euros last year, based on seven million rental transactions. It holds 18.3 percent of the European market, and has a presence in the continent’s 75 major airports.

Avis Europe shares rose 113 pence, or 57.7 percent, to 310 pence in early morning trading in London.

Avis Budget will finance the acquisition with a combination of cash reserves, debt and the issuance of $250 million in Avis Budget common stock.

The American group hired Morgan Stanley and Citigroup as its advisers and Kirkland Ellis as its legal counsel. Avis Europe hired Barclays Capital as its sole financial adviser, and chose Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer as legal counsel.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=244e0b03ab1c90b0ccc4a7c281d5d3e2

Bucks: Savings Bank Is Now Merely Average

It’s official: After cutting its interest rate for the third time in nearly nine months, SmartyPig’s rates are no longer the most attractive in the land of online savings accounts. The spectacled Pig is merely average.

Starting on June 15, the rate will drop to 1.1 percent for customers with balances under $50,000, while savers who hold balances of more than $50,000 across all of their accounts will continue to earn 0.50 percent. I’ve been documenting the rate’s steady descent — it stood at 1.35 percent in January and 1.75 percent last September. Before that, the rate was an impressive 2.15 percent.

American Express and Sallie Mae now offer online savings accounts that pay customers 1.15 percent, while ING Direct and Ally offer rates of 1.0 percent. Many of these banks also cut their rates in recent months, but the Bucks team, perhaps too idealistically, had higher expectations for SmartyPig.

I initially became a fan because SmartyPig offered two really attractive features for savers.Besides the alluring rate, the company also made it really easy to set up an automated savings plan for different goals. But while SmartyPig has some bells and whistles that its competitors do not — for instance, you can share your savings goals on social networks like Facebook and Twitter so friends and family can contribute — it’s also possible to set up multiple automated savings plans at online banks like ING Direct and Ally.

The Pig’s chief executive, Bob Weinschenk, reiterated that its behind-the-scenes banking partner, BBVA Compass, actually sets the rates, and said that there’s been a gentle but steady move downward among competitors. “Others moved down two to three months ago and we held out longer than anyone,” he said. “BBVA is still paying a top-tier rate and when rates move back up (hopefully) we’ll adjust accordingly.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Weinschenk has said that the company’s business model has simply evolved. Instead of rewarding customers with an especially enticing rate for a longer-term savings goal, it’s simply more profitable to reward customers who want to save for smaller goals and then buy something through one of the company’s retailer partners, for which they receive cash back (in addition to the interest earned in a savings account).

And, he said, SmartyPig has increased the cash back rate at a number of retailers. “So I would say that for most customers the rate cut is more than offset by the cash back.”

As for the Pig’s reloadable prepaid card, which provides cash back savings, Mr. Weinschenk said it’s experiencing “record sign-ups and record useage.”

What do you think of the latest rate cut? And if you’re a customer, do you think the card and other services are good enough incentive to keep your savings parked at the Pig?

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=0fdbf042278c3104626286670452a422