News in Brief

Vivendi could sell Canal + assets; PBS lands most Emmy factual nominations; median age of U.S. network viewers continues to climb
July 25, 2002

Vivendi chairman and CEO Jean-Rene Fourtou admitted on July 24 that the media group’s excessive debt requires ‘significant asset sales’. According to Reuters, Fourtou said the French company’s ‘debt is too high. Its reduction will entail significant asset sales, whatever happens.’ The comments were triggered in part by a leak to the press earlier in the week of plans to break up and sell off the assets of Canal+. The BBC said those plans include selling its Studio Canal film production operation and its distribution unit UGC. The core Canal + pay TV channel will remain in the company’s hands, the BBC reported.

With 41 nods, PBS has garnered the most nominations for the 23rd Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards, announced on July 22. CBS came in second with 26 nominations and ABC came third with 19. HBO and NBC tied for fourth with 10 each and CNN rounded out the top five with eight. Among the cablecasters, Discovery Channel scored three nominations, as did TLC; History Channel has two; and Animal Planet, Court TV and Nat Geo each earned one. Entries totalled a record 1,654 compared to 1,450 last year, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences noted in a release. The awards will be handed out in New York on September 10.

In the running for outstanding historical doc at the News and Documentary Emmy Awards are Crossing the Bridge and Holocaust: The Untold Story (both from The History Channel‘s ‘History Undercover’ strand), Korean War Stories (a PBS Special), Paragraph 175 (an HBO Documentary Special) and Afghanistan: 12 Years of Violence (TLC). Nominated for best doc are Beneath the Veil (‘CNN Presents‘ strand), Legacy (HBO’s ‘Cinemax Reel Life‘ strand) and Promises (PBS’s ‘POV‘). For further info, including a full list of nominees, visit

The median age of U.S. network television viewers continued to climb last year, says a survey cited by USA Today. According to ad company Magna Global USA‘s results (which were compiled using Nielsen Media Research data), four out of six broadcasters drew more viewers in an older demographic in 2000/2001 compared to the previous year. Only ABC brought in younger consumers, but the alphabet net also lost the largest number of viewers. Fox‘s median age remained unchanged at 36. Reality shows attracted the youngest viewers, the newspaper said. The median age for ABC’s The Bachelor came in at 40.6; for CBS’ The Amazing Race, 39.8; and for NBC’s Fear Factor, 35.

Canada‘s 732 film, video and audio-visual producers earned more revenue in the 1999/2000 fiscal year than ever before, thanks to surging sales of television productions and exports, the Canadian government reports. According to figures released by Statistics Canada, total revenue for the industry amounted to just under CDN$2.1 billion (US$1.3 billion), up 15.7% from 1998/1999.

New York, U.S.-based network TNN is seeking applications for a new family-oriented reality show. The program will focus on a family in the New York and New Jersey area with at least two children. TNN plans to add a twist to the format, however, by having comedienne Adrianne Frost ‘play her own version of mom,’ while the real mother is pampered for the weekend (the company has not released further details). Shooting is set to begin in August.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) will move the Oscars – a ceremony usually held in March – to late February in 2004. The 2003 awards will still be held in March. The British Academy of Film & Television Arts (BAFTA) have also moved their 2004 awards ceremony to February, following the AMPAS announcement.

That’s My Face, by Thomas Allen Harris, picked up the documentary feature award at Outfest, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (June 11 to 22). Deborah Dickson‘s Ruthie and Connie: Every Room in the House took the audience award for doc feature and Melissa Regan‘s No Dumb Questions won the audience award for doc short.

About The Author
Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.