February 23, 2024

In Ratings War, ‘G.M.A.’ Beats ‘Today’ for Full Season

As he pushed “Good Morning America” through a heated ratings competition with NBC’s “Today” show, Ben Sherwood, the president of ABC News, had three goals: first, to win just one week; second, to win one of the television industry’s so-called sweeps months; and third, to win for a full television season. He called it “the trifecta” in conversations with colleagues.

And on Friday, ABC achieved it: a full-season win for “G.M.A.” for the first time since the early 1990s.

G.M.A.’s lead over “Today” has been acknowledged several times already, both by the network and by viewers. Still, the full-season triumph is something that ABC chose to trumpet on Friday as the network news division positioned itself as one that is growing, or at least holding steady, at a time of fracturing television audiences.

The 2012-13 television season, as measured by Nielsen, started in mid-September 2012 and ended earlier this month. The final seasonal viewership figures for the morning shows were released on Friday. They reflected a once-in-a-generation change: “G.M.A.,” which had lost to “Today” for 852 straight weeks before notching a one-week win in April 2012, has taken a decisive lead among total viewers, with an average of 5.3 million viewers on a typical weekday. That is nearly 700,000 more than the “Today” show, which had an average of 4.6 million.

One season earlier, “Today” had 5.1 million viewers and “G.M.A.” had a little under 4.9 million.

“CBS This Morning,” which was rebooted in early 2012 and is now hosted by Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell, had an average viewership of 2.77 million. For CBS, that is a big improvement: one season earlier, the network had 2.44 million viewers in the mornings.

Among 25- to 54-year-olds, the demographic that really determines success or failure for morning shows, the ratings race remains tight. “G.M.A.” had almost two million viewers, about 85,000 more than “Today.”

According to ABC, “G.M.A.” has not led “Today” for a full season since the 1993-94 season.

Some, though not all, of “G.M.A.’s” gains can be attributed to missteps by the “Today” show, including the dismissal last year of Ann Curry, a longtime member of that show’s cast. “Today” is now trying to lure former viewers back; it has resisted the temptation to dismiss any other cast members, and has instead added two, Willie Geist and Carson Daly. This month it introduced a remodeled studio and a new graphics package.

Some of “G.M.A.’s” gains can also be attributed to content choices. The show has become more entertaining in the last few years, sometimes eschewing serious news for stories about sensational court cases, celebrities and trends, especially after 7:15 a.m. While its rivals dismiss the show as too tabloid-oriented, ABC defends its coverage as a reflection of what viewers want to see when they wake up.

“G.M.A.” has tried not to get too comfortable in first place. Through a spokesman on Friday, Mr. Sherwood said, “Our immediate goals are to keep building on our strengths, to stay hungry and humble, and to keep our eyes on the prize.”

When the 2012-13 season was starting, the “G.M.A.” co-host Robin Roberts was in the hospital, undergoing a grueling bone marrow transplant. In February, she returned to the show on a part-time basis, but it was not until this month that she resumed hosting full time.

While the mornings are the most lucrative part of the day for the network news divisions, the evenings remain essential as well, and there NBC ended the season ahead, as it has for 17 years. “NBC Nightly News” had more than 8.3 million viewers on an average night, 700,000 more than ABC’s “World News.” ABC has crept quite close in the 25- to 54-year-old demographic, however, and in July actually beat the NBC newscast for one week. NBC has avoided a repeat loss since then.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/28/business/media/gma-beats-today-over-a-full-season.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Analysis: Lance Armstrong Confesses to Using Drugs but Without Details

With Winfrey, he lost his icy stare and buried his cutting words. Looking nervous and swallowing hard several times, he admitted to using through most his cycling career a cocktail of drugs, including testosterone, cortisone, human growth hormone and the blood booster EPO.

Yet, like always, Armstrong could not help fighting.

He called his doping regimen simple and conservative, rejecting volumes of evidence by the United States Anti-Doping Agency that the drug program on his Tour de France-winning teams was “the most sophisticated, organized and professionalized” doping scheme in the history of cycling.

He said that he was not the kingpin of the doping program on his teams, as the antidoping agency claimed, and that he was just doping the way the rest of his teammates were at the time.

He said he had doped, beginning in the mid-1990s, through 2005, the year he won his record seventh Tour. He said that he took EPO, but “not a lot,” and that he had rationalized his use of testosterone because one of his testicles had been removed during his battle against cancer. “I thought, Surely I’m running low,” he said of the banned testosterone he took to gain an edge in his performance.

At times during the interview, which will resume Friday night, Armstrong seemed genuinely humble, admitting that he was “a flawed character” and that he would spend the rest of his life trying to apologize to people and regain their trust.

“There will be people who hear this and never forgive me,” he said. “I understand that.”

But when asked about the people he had tried to crush while he tried to keep his doping secret — people like the former masseuse Emma O’Reilly or his former teammate Frankie Andreu and Andreu’s wife, Betsy — he showed little contrition. Those are some of the people who claimed he had doped and who he subsequently publicly claimed were liars. He had called O’Reilly a prostitute and an alcoholic.

In the interview, Armstrong acknowledged calling Betsy Andreu crazy. But with a suggestion of a smirk, he said he never claimed she was fat.

He said he had been a bully his whole life, before contradicting himself a minute later, saying he became a bully only after he survived cancer and resumed his cycling career.

And when he said he never failed a drug test — saying, “I passed them because there was nothing in the system” — he contradicted himself again. When Winfrey asked if his urine samples from the 1999 Tour retroactively tested positive for EPO, he said yes. When she pressed him, he admitted that he received a backdated prescription from a team doctor after he tested positive for cortisone at the 1999 Tour.

Armstrong did not delve into the details of his doping, and Winfrey never asked. He did not explain how it was done, who helped him do it or how, exactly, he perpetuated his myth for so long. He said he was not comfortable talking about other people when asked about the infamous Italian sports doctor Michele Ferrari, his former trainer, who is now serving a lifetime ban for doping his athletes.

When Winfrey asked if he would cooperate with the United States Anti-Doping Agency in building doping cases against others in the sport, he masterfully skirted the question.

Travis Tygart, the chief executive of the antidoping agency, called Armstrong’s admission “a step in the right direction.”

But it did not really matter what Armstrong told Winfrey in the interview, at least according to Tygart and other antidoping agency officials who hold the key to Armstrong’s future as a professional athlete.

Armstrong’s reason for coming clean was not to unburden himself of the deception he fought to keep secret for so long. It was to take the first step toward mitigating the lifetime ban from Olympic sports that he received from the United States Anti-Doping Agency in the fall, according to people close to him who did not want their names published because they wanted to stay in Armstrong’s good graces.

Antidoping officials need to hear more from Armstrong than just an apology and a rough outline of his doping. They need details. And lots of them.

“Anything he says on TV would have no impact whatsoever under the rules on his lifetime suspension,” Tygart said.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/18/sports/cycling/lance-armstrong-confesses-to-using-drugs-but-without-details.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

World Briefing | Africa: South Sudan: Journalist Killed

A South Sudanese online journalist was shot and killed late Wednesday outside his home in the capital, Juba, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The journalist, Diing Chan Awuol, who wrote for a number of online news outlets in South Sudan, had published articles critical of the government, its policy toward Sudan and its ties to Sudanese rebel groups. Other journalists said Mr. Chan “had been threatened several times in the past and had received anonymous phone calls warning him to stop writing,” the journalists’ organization said in a statement. Since South Sudan gained its independence last year, journalists have complained of harassment and some have been detained by the government.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/07/world/africa/south-sudan-journalist-killed.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

You’re the Boss Blog: What’s Going On With My Bank?

Staying Alive

The struggles of a business trying to survive.

Wednesday was kind of a busy day, but late in the afternoon I tried to log in to my bank’s Web site to see what checks had posted (I bank with PNC). I couldn’t get in. Web sites don’t load now and then, and I didn’t give it much thought.

Yesterday morning I was discussing the payments we expected to receive this week with my two salesmen, Don and Nate. They are responsible for sending out invoices and keeping track of whether we have been paid with a cash management spreadsheet. Nate had received verbal confirmation of a sale of a conference table on Tuesday and added it to our production queue. We normally require a deposit in hand to do this, but you know how it goes — putting up a sales number is fun, and we were convinced the deal was a go. Why not do the client a favor and schedule manufacturing?

I asked Nate whether we had received a deposit from a new customer I’ll call Company T. This client had said it was  sending its deposit through an electronic funds transfer. Nate hadn’t heard whether the deposit, a little more than $9,000, had been sent and suggested I check the bank Web site to see whether the payment had posted. I tried again to log in, and again couldn’t connect. Hmmm. I tried refreshing several times, quitting and restarting the browser, and finally tried using two other browsers. Eventually PNC displayed a page that said the site was experiencing some technical issues and that I should try later. Again, other duties pressed and I set it aside.

At the end of Thursday, Don took a credit card from a client he had been working with — let’s call it Company S. We added the client to our list, but now I had a problem: Who gets the first available production time, Company T or Company S? They both wanted their tables as soon as possible, so the first one to commit money would get it. The call from Company S happened late on Thursday, just as I was walking out the door. I figured I would sort it out on Friday morning.

So when I came in on Friday, I tried again to log in, and this time nothing at all came up. This was starting to seem strange. As it happened, I needed some cash, so I hopped in my car to go to the local branch and see what was going on. When I got there, I was told that hackers had taken down the PNC Web site and that a number of major banks had been affected. The teller had no idea when it would be back up. At least I was able to see, on the bank’s own computers, that Company T’s transfer had gone through on Thursday.

Back at the office, I tried again to log in. No luck. I’ve continued to try throughout the day, and even as I wrote this post (early afternoon) I couldn’t get in. Now I’m a little worried. My bookkeeper won’t be able to reconcile our payments for the week, and I won’t be able to confirm that my cash management plans are still current. And beyond that: what’s up with PNC?

There hasn’t been much news about this incident (The Times’s Bits blog ran a post), but I was able to find out that a number of major banks had been affected. I have accounts with Chase and Wells Fargo, and I was able to get access to both of them, although it took a while to log in. PNC seems to have been hit harder or not been as nimble in response.

It’s disconcerting, to say the least, to find out how vulnerable my bank is to an outside attack. It’s been a disruption to my business that I didn’t expect, and the longer it goes on, the more worrisome it becomes.

I have planned my business around ready access to up-to-date financial information and rely on it to make sure I’m solvent. This particular week I have some cushion in my accounts, but I’ve lived through many periods where knowing whether $9,000 had arrived or not would make all the difference in the world — if I were trying to make payroll, for instance, or trying to make sure that critical materials shipped, or trying to avoid penalty payments on a credit card.

Is anyone else having trouble seeing their accounts right now?

Paul Downs founded Paul Downs Cabinetmakers in 1986. It is based outside Philadelphia.

Article source: http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/28/whats-going-on-with-my-bank/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Cache: An Explosion in Universe of Web Names

PARIS — One of the biggest changes in the history of the Internet could be set into motion Monday. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing remains open to fierce debate.

At a meeting in Singapore, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which oversees the Internet address system, is expected to approve a vast expansion of the range of addresses available. The group wants to make it possible for Internet users to create their own extensions like .com, .net or .org.

So, get ready for Web sites that end with the names of cities or brands, like .berlin or .canon, to name just two entities that have expressed interest in the proposed system. Crafty entrepreneurs are busy thinking up sites like iwant.beer or whatsfor.dinner.

Icann envisions hundreds of new extensions, and that is just in the first round of applications. The overall range of Internet addresses on offer would increase exponentially.

Icann has been working on this for years. At a meeting in Paris three years ago, its board recommended going ahead. Since then, however, final authorization has been delayed several times, even as Icann has gone ahead with other expansions, including the use of non-Latin alphabets in domain names.

This time around, Peter Dengate Thrush, the chairman of Icann, said he thought the board would give the go-ahead. “We’re feeling reasonably confident at this stage because of the feedback we’ve been getting from all the players,” he said.

Such a vote would be a personal triumph for Mr. Dengate Thrush, given that the meeting in Singapore is set to be his last as chairman. Icann says the expansion would give Internet users vastly greater choice, leading to innovations in online marketing, among other things.

Yet critics of Icann question the need, saying existing suffixes provide plenty of choice. They say Icann wants to railroad the plan through without addressing their concerns.

Owners of corporate brands and other trademarks — who remember the cybersquatting that marred the early days of the Internet, when profiteers claimed brand names and then resold them to their owners — say the expansion would open the door to a new round of intellectual property abuses.

“It’s an unproven idea that has been handled very poorly from a project management standpoint,” said Alan C. Drewsen, executive director of the International Trademark Association.

The primary beneficiaries of the change, critics contend, will be the registrars that maintain Internet addresses; unlike Icann, a nonprofit organization, many registrars are commercial entities.

“The more domains they have out there, the more names they can register and the more money they take in,” said Josh Bourne, president of the Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse, a Washington-based lobby group.

Icann plans safeguards to thwart cybersquatters and other opportunists. The price of the new extensions has been set at a steep $185,000, for example, with a further $25,000 annual fee to maintain them. Trademark owners would be allowed to claim their names for use in addresses during “sunrise” periods following the rollout. These protections have been strengthened since the proposal was outlined.

“My expectation is that people will look at this in a fairly commercial way,” Mr. Dengate Thrush said. “My hope is that they aren’t going to waste a lot of time and money applying for names that don’t stand a chance.”

Mr. Dengate Thrush acknowledged that there were still unresolved issues around implementation. But he said these could be resolved after a vote to go ahead. Icann plans a four-month communication period before applications for addresses will be accepted.

During that time, trademark owners will have to wrestle with some big questions. Should they apply for the new suffixes? Should they register their names for use with other new extensions? Or should they do neither? A lot of money hangs on the decisions.

Mei-lan Stark, senior vice president for intellectual property at News Corp.’s Fox Entertainment Group, recently told a U.S. congressional committee that the change could cost her company at least $12 million in the initial stages alone.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=e12631269681d2a28980d8dbf662f387