Hotlines: Late-Breaking Industry News

Advertisers Show Caution Over CBS’ Controversial ‘Kid Nation’

NEW YORK CBS has begun screening its controversial new program Kid Nation for ad buyers and their clients, the network confirmed last week. The show came under scrutiny in recent weeks after reports that the state of New Mexico, where the program, shown below, was filmed earlier this summer, is investigating whether child labor laws were violated during filming. CBS has vehemently denied there were any violations. The network has declined to say whether any advertisers have pulled ads from the show, but did suggest that some potential sponsors were taking a wait-and-see attitude. “A cautious approach from some advertisers to a show generating this much attention is very common,” CBS said in a statement. Calls to buyers did not turn up any clients that have pulled support from the program. A spokeswoman for General Motors said the company has not placed ads in the program’s premiere episode (Sept. 19) but will continue to monitor the situation and possibly do so later in the season. But she stressed that the company’s decision not to commit upfront to the program was made before the controversy broke. In its statement, CBS added, “We believe the issues raised about Kids Nation will be resolved when the public sees the first episode.”

NBCU Lets Contact With iTunes Lapse Over Strict Fee Structure

NEW YORK NBC Universal said it has informed Apple that it would not renew its current contract with the technology giant to sell its programming via the iTunes Music Store. The deal expires at the end of December. Executives at the company declined to comment further, but did confirm that the decision was made at this time to avoid an automatic renewal of the deal, which would kick in if NBCU took no action within 90 days of the expiration of the contract. According to sources familiar with the decision, NBCU is unhappy with the lack of flexibility in Apple’s pricing model, as the company sells nearly all TV shows via iTunes for the set price of $1.99 per episode. In addition, NBCU is said to be concerned with Apple’s apparent lack of enforcement when it comes to piracy of its content, as some executives charge that Apple has yet to take even basic steps to prevent users of iTunes and its ever-popular iPod devices from viewing copyrighted content.

Hispanic TV Demo Grows Faster In U.S. Than General Population

NEW YORK The number of Hispanic TV households increased 4.4 percent to 12.1 million, easily outpacing the 1.3 percent growth of all TV households, according to the Nielsen Co.’s ethnic universe estimates released last week. Asians, the second-fastest growing segment, increased 3.9 percent to 4.5 million, while African-American TV households grew 1.5 percent to 13.6 million. The new national estimates are effective Aug. 27. Local estimates are effective Sept. 22. Shifting population patterns also affected the ranking of ethnic markets. Los Angeles continues to be the No. 1 Hispanic market, followed by New York, Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Houston, Chicago, Dallas-Ft. Worth and San Antonio. Nielsen is the parent company of Adweek.

Nokia Prepares Music Service And Rival to iPhone

NEW YORK Nokia is reportedly getting ready to take a bite out of Apple’s iPhone. The New York Times’ London bureau reported last week that the Finnish mobile company will begin offering its own digital music service that will feature an Apple-style interface and touchscreen handset. Users will also be able to download songs directly to their phones via wireless Internet connection, a feature not available on the current version of the iPhone, according to the story. “I don’t know what is copying and what is original, but if there is something good in the world, we copy it with pride,” Nokia chief Anssi Vanjoki told the Times without confirming or denying the report. The Nokia Music Store is set to open later this year.

Decision on Porsche Review Expected Early This Week

CHICAGO A decision is expected today in Porsche Cars North America’s review of its $40 million advertising account, according to Ark Advisors, which is running the review. Four agencies have pitched the account: IPG’s Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis, the incumbent, and The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va, as well as independents Cramer-Krasselt in Chicago and SS+K in New York. The review was spurred by David Pryor’s elevation to svp of marketing and the company’s planned launch of a four-door sedan in 2009.

Agencies Await Cut to Finalists In $150 Mil. PlayStation Review

NEW YORK Sony PlayStation this week is expected to select four finalists to pitch its estimated $150 million creative and media account, following visits to some eight agencies last week, sources said. Among the shops that Sony executives visited were IPG’s Deutsch/LA in Marina del Rey, Calif.; independent RPA in Santa Monica, Calif.; WPP units Young & Rubicam in Irvine, Calif., and JWT in Los Angeles (which is partnering with CAA); and Publicis’ Publicis in the West in Seattle, said sources. The incumbents, Omnicom units TBWA\Chiat\Day in Playa del Rey, Calif. (creative) and OMD in Playa del Rey (media), are defending and sources expect them to be among the final contenders. Santa Monica-based Select Resources International is managing the process.