BUSINESS UPDATES (Click on More to view all articles): NACPA Elects New Board of Directors

The North American Concert Promoters Association has elected its new board of directors: Beckye Levin, Dave Lucas and Annie O'Toole (all from Clear Channel Entertainment), Debra Rathwell (AEG-Live) and Jon Stoll (Fantasma Productions).

Stoll and Rathwell are hold-overs from the old board. Other old board members included Bill Silva, Brian Murphy, Irv Zuckerman and Jules Belkin.

Clear Channel Expands D.C. Presence With Two New Lobbyists

Clear Channel Communications has appointed Washington insiders Robert Fisher and Brendan Kelsay as Directors of Government Relations to beef up its lobbying team in its Washington, D.C. office effective March 1. Andrew Levin, Clear Channel's senior vice president of Government Relations, said he looks forward to the bipartisan public policy experience Fisher and Kelsay will bring to Clear Channel's Washington office.

"Robert and Brendan each possess a tremendous amount of Capitol Hill experience and know-how," Levin said. "They are well known and respected on both sides of the aisle for their significant contributions to public service, and we couldn't be more thrilled they're joining our team."

Fisher joins Clear Channel from the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, where he served as a member of the professional staff, advising Committee chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., on telecommunications and mass media issues. Fisher began his career with Senator McCain in 1997 as a legislative liaison in the Arizona state office, and worked on Senator McCain's last re-election campaign before joining the Senate Commerce Committee in Washington, D.C.

Kelsay comes to Clear Channel from the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, where he served as a member of the professional staff, advising Committee Ranking Member John D. Dingell, D-Mich., on telecommunications and mass media issues. Prior to joining the House Commerce Committee, Kelsay held positions with the House Democratic Caucus, led by Rep. Vic Fazio, D-Calif., the Georgia state legislature, and numerous political campaigns.

Two Performers' Unions OK Merger Plan

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The national directors for Hollywood's two major performers' unions voted for a proposed merger that they said would give them more bargaining power with entertainment conglomerates.

At a joint meeting, the national boards of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists Saturday approved principles of consolidation that are the first step in forming a new union.

Supporters said consolidation would maximize their strength and resolve jurisdiction fights, such as who represents actors in digital productions.

"Our need for unity is not abstract," said AFTRA National President John Connolly. "We have two organizations that cover much of the same jurisdiction. We have been able to stand together united for many years. The pressures of the market place and digital technology are trying to drive us apart."

All 69 SAG directors voted in favor of the merger proposal. AFTRA approved the plan 72-3. The two unions represent about 130,000 performers.

"This is the ultimate fight against salary depression for us," said SAG President Melissa Gilbert.

The combined organization would consist of separate affiliates for actors, broadcasters and recording artists that would have autonomy over bargaining, strikes and other issues.

Members of each affiliate would elect a president. The head of the umbrella union would be selected by a convention of delegates.

Under the proposal, health and pension plans would be combined.

The national boards will meet again April 5 in Washington, D.C., to vote on a constitution and a plan to implement the merger. If approved, 60 percent of both unions' members would have to OK it in a referendum.

AFTRA represents recording artists, TV and radio broadcasters, and performers in daytime TV, game or reality shows. About 40,000 of its 70,000 members also belong to SAG, which represents actors in film, commercials and prime-time TV shows. SAG, Hollywood's largest performers union, has 98,000 members.

SAG members rejected a merger plan in 1999.

Viacom Reports Better 4Q Earnings

NEW YORK (AP) — Viacom Inc., owner of the CBS network and Showtime movie channels, reported a fourth-quarter profit Wednesday, turning around a year-ago loss thanks to strong growth in its cable network and TV businesses. The results exceeded Wall Street expectations, but investors reacted cautiously amid concerns about the company's leadership.

For the three months ending Dec. 31, the media conglomerate earned $652.4 million, or 37 cents per share, compared with a loss of $42.5 million, or 2 cents per share, at the same time a year ago.

Those figures beat the 34-cent per-share forecast of analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call.

Looking ahead, the company said it expected to deliver mid-single digit revenue growth and mid-teen growth in earnings per share in 2003. The forecast reflects the anticipated costs of war coverage, and the effects a conflict might have on advertising revenues.

Also, in a conference call Wednesday morning, Viacom executives said they were working to reach a contract with Mel Karmazin, the company's chief operating officer and president, but no solution has been reached. Karmazin and Viacom chairman and chief executive Sumner M. Redstone have clashed in the past, and rumors have been building for weeks that Karmazin, who is considered key to Viacom's success by many on Wall Street, might walk if a satisfactory deal can't be reached.

The uncertainty did not help the stock. In trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Viacom shares fell $1.80,or 4.8 percent, to $35.73.

Following the report, Merrill Lynch reduced its target price for the stock, saying aspects of Viacom's quarterly performance were still below what the investment firm had projected. Merrill Lynch also expressed concern about the Karmazin situation.

Quarterly revenues were $6.78 billion, up 12 percent from $6.04 billion at the same time in 2001. The gains reflected advances in the company's cable networks and TV divisions. Cable revenues for the quarter rose to $1.35 billion, from $1.16 billion in 2001; TV revenues for the quarter were $2.12 billion, compared with $2.0 billion at the same time the year before.

Viacom, which merged with CBS in 2000, also owns VH1, UPN, Simon & Schuster and other properties.

For the year, the New York-based company earned $725.7 million, or 41 cents per share, compared with a loss of $223.50 million, or 13 cents per share, in 2001. Excluding the effect of an accounting change, the company earned $1.24 per share for the year, besting the Thomson First Call forecast for full-year earnings of $1.21 on the same basis.

Full-year revenues were $24.61 billion, up from $23.22 billion in 2001.

Viacom also indicated it is considering offering a dividend to shareholders, but no final decision has been made.

The company sounded a bullish tone about the future, indicating future corporate acquisitions are possible and more growth is ahead.

"Our fourth quarter and full year results are yet another indication that Viacom has the right assets, the right management and the right strategy to continue to grow year after year," said Redstone. "Our performance in 2002 is but a forerunner of what we expect to accomplish in 2003."

Also Wednesday, Karmazin said he would be selling $10 million in company shares by the end of the month because some options he was granted 10 years ago expire then.

Mascioli Entertainment Relocates To Florida

Mascioli Entertainment Corporation has opened the company's new corporate headquarters in Orlando. The full-service entertainment company offers artists management, concert promotions, and event design and production.

Paul Mascioli, president, founded the company in Victoria, BC in 1969, eventually moving his corporate headquarters to Nashville in 1991. He moved to Orlando in 1998, joining T. Skorman Productions, Inc. as senior vice president, while continuing to oversee the day-to-day operations of Mascioli Entertainment.

Mascioli's son, Mike Mascioli, has been appointed vice president of Mascioli Entertainment. He joined his father's company in 1996 after working for five years as a booking agent in Vancouver.

"The Orlando area has the greatest market potential of any city in all of North America when it comes to corporate entertainment," the elder Mascioli said. "It is known for its incomparable talent, as well as its abundant resources."

LAMC Relocates to West Coast

The Latin Alternative Music Conference (www.latinalternative.com) has headed to the West Coast for its 4th annual event, August 14-16 at the Beverly Hilon Hotel in Beverly Hills, after three years in New York.

Co-founder Josh Norek, who moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles last year, said that while most of the mainstream media and labels are in New York, a large part of its audience is based on the West Coast. Norek says he still plans to do the LAMC Central Park SummerStage and Celebrate Brooklyn events there this summer.

Norek was profiled on CelebrityAccess last year.

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