UPDATED with Deadline interview: David Benham says he loves gays and has nothing against them but hates the gay “agenda” that “seeks to silence men and women of faith.” Appearing with his twin brother Jason on CNN‘s Erin Burnett UpFront the day after HGTV announced it would not move forward with a new show starring the twins called Flip It Forward, David said, “We shouldn’t be afraid of losing our livelihood.”
Related: HGTV Pulls New Home-Flipping Series After Report Emerges Identifying Its Stars As Anti-Gay Activists
HGTV announced on its Facebook page Wednesday that it was scrapping plans for the upcoming series after a report emerged identifying one of its stars as an activist against gay marriage and abortion. After the CNN interview, David told Deadline he and his brother had been “really excited” about the reality series, thinking it would give them “that opportunity to show America that you can be Christian and not be so extreme on one side of an issue that you’re not loving toward people. I was excited about that opportunity,” he said.
But he has no hope the project might be resuscitated when the controversy dies down, in much the same way Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson was suspended for incendiary comments he made in a GQ interview but was allowed to return fairly quickly, after some media and fans pushed back. “With Duck Dynasty, they already had a following,” David told Deadline on Thursday. “With Jason and I, we didn’t even get out of the batter’s box. HGTV made a decision based on one tiny segment of our culture, and had they heard from the rest of the culture, I think it would have been different. At this point, it’s over.” After being informed by HGTV execs they were not moving forward with the show, he said, he originally thought they would continue filming to complete the original episode order, but this afternoon M2 Pictures contacted them, “saying they’re pulling everything – it’s all done.” Read More »
As they were swamped with media requests for interviews, David and Jason Benham issued a statement today about HGTV‘s decision not to move forward with their new show, Flip It Forward in the wake of a report issued by People For the American Way about the brothers, and their father:
The first and last thought on our minds as we begin and end each day is; have we shined Christ’s light today? Our faith is the fundamental calling in our lives, and the centerpiece of who we are. As Christians we are called to love our fellow man. Anyone who suggests that we hate homosexuals or people of other faiths is either misinformed or lying.
Over the last decade, we’ve sold thousands of homes with the guiding principle of producing value and breathing life into each family that has crossed our path, and we do not, nor will we ever discriminate against people who do not share our views.
We were saddened to hear HGTV’s decision. With all of the grotesque things that can be seen and heard on television today you would think there would be room for two twin brothers who are faithful to our families, committed to biblical principles, and dedicated professionals. If our faith costs us a television show then so be it.
Related: HGTV Pulls New Home-Flipping Series After Report Emerges Identifying Its Stars As Anti-Gay Activists
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After the group Right Wing Watch reported the twins who star in HGTV’s recently greenlit reality series Flip It Forward are anti-gay activists, the network said this morning it had given the hook to the series, which was set to debut in October. Yesterday, HGTV said it was “currently in the process of reviewing all information about the Benhams and we will provide an update as soon as possible.” Then came a tweet today:
Right Wing Watch reported Tuesday that David Benham had led a prayer rally outside of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC in 2012, in which he told conservative radio host Janet Mefferd that America’s Christian majority must repent for tolerating “homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation” and “demonic ideologies tak[ing] our universities and our public school systems.” He also said his brother had joined him in the prayer protest. The group also claimed David leads protests outside of abortion clinics.
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The six-episode series — Ellen DeGeneres‘ first on cable television — is titled Ellen’s Design Challenge and scheduled to premiere in 2015. It will feature six contestants tasked with designing and building furniture in 24 hours with the help of a carpenter. There also will be a six-part online companion series. “I’m so excited about this show because I love finding really special pieces of furniture,” DeGeneres said. “One time I found a beautiful one-of-a-kind armoire that spoke to me in a way I’d never experienced. It turned out there was a drifter living inside of it, but that’s a story for another time.” DeGeneres’ production company, A Very Good Production, is producing with A. Smith & Co. in association with Telepictures, a division of Warner Bros. TV where DeGeneres’ company is based. Executive producers are DeGeneres, Jeff Kleeman of A Very Good Production, and Arthur Smith, Kent Weed and Jay Bienstock of A. Smith & Co.
The Curb Appeal carpenter and co-host was hit by a car while driving his motorbike in San Francisco on Monday night and died later of at a local hospital. Bill Beckwith was 38. The accident occurred around 8:30 PM when Beckwith’s bike was hit by a car turning the corner of Oak and Steiner in SF’s Lower Haight neighborhood. The HGTV home improvement series co-host was knocked from his bike and suffered a head injury, and was pronounced dead later at San Francisco General Hospital, the city’s medical examiner confirms. “My love, so kind and bright, adventurous and strong. You are loved by so many good people! I wish you could stay with us for way longer,” wrote Beckwith’s girlfriend Yulia Korneeva, on a Facebook memorial page set up today by family and friends. Curb Appeal has been running on HGTV since 2002. Beckwith, the founder of BB Design Build, joined the show in 2010 and co-hosts with John Gidding and Kimberly Lacy.
Production has begun on Tori & Dean: Cabin Fever, a series that follows Tori Spelling, hubby Dean McDermott and their four kids as they head to Ontario, Canada, to renovate a lakeside cottage. We follow the family as they experience the highs and lows of cottage life – including canoeing, mosquitoes, eccentric neighbors and potential bear run-ins. Cineflix is producing with Spelling and McDermott exec producing. It’s slated to air on CMT in Canada and HGTV in the U.S. in spring 2014.
The company behind HGTV, Food Network and other lifestyle channels has a great topline story to tell for Q1. The bottom line? Not so much. Net income came in at $151.2M, -3.7% vs the period last year, on revenues of $594.4M, +11%. The revenue figure was well above the $582.5M that analysts expected. But earnings attributable to Scripps Networks investors, at 72 cents a share, were 2 cents shy of the consensus forecast. The company says that ad sales and affiliate fees were both up 11% in early 2013, respectively to $395M and $187M. Food Network revenues came in at $208.3M (+4.8%), with HGTV at $206.0M (+10.9%), Travel Channel at $76.4M (+15.1%), DIY Network at $$31.9M (+15.4%), Cooking Channel at $26.3M (+32.7%), and GAC — Great American Country — at $6.4M (+28.2%). But expenses for the quarter, at $347M, were +17%. Scripps Networks says that the increased outlays were “driven by programming amortization expenses as the company invests to drive viewership” as well as “higher employee costs and investments in planned domestic and international growth initiatives.” The company has been struggling to boost its audiences in the U.S., where the pay TV market has plateaued, and to expand overseas. Read More »
Travel Channel is embarking on its post-Anthony Bourdain life by adding four new series to its 2013 programming slate, which was unveiled today as part of Scripps Networks Interactive‘s upfront presentation today in NY. The lineup includes a new show from host Adam Richman, Adam Richman’s Fandemonium, which will premiere July 14. The other three greenlighted shows are the wilderness survival series Get Lost, the take-out food series Best Daym Takeout starring YouTube food critic Daymon Patterson, and the antique car restoration show Backroad Gold. Travel Channel also set premiere dates for Season 3 of Hotel Impossible (August 12) and Season 5 of Mysteries At The Museum (August 15).
Food Network is celebrating its 20th anniversary and along with sibling Cooking Channel will add more than 20 new series to its lineup, Scripps said today. HGTV unveiled nine new original series.
Here’s a look at the networks’ new and returning shows: Read More »
After a four-year stint as president of HGTV, Jim Samples is leaving the network but staying with parent company Scripps Networks as President, International. Samples’ post at HGTV won’t be filled. As part of a company-wide management restructuring last year, Scripps EVP Burton Jablin was given oversight of HGTV and sister network DIY. Kathleen Finch, who has served as SVP/general manager of HGTV since September 2010, will handle day-to-day responsibilities of running the network. In his new role, Samples will oversee Scripps’ international programming portfolio, reporting too Joseph G. NeCastro, chief financial and administrative officer. Samples replaces Greg Moyer, who is stepping down and will serve as a consultant to Scripps’ international group. Additionally, Bob Baskerville, General Manager, International, has been named Chief Operating Officer, International and will oversee all day-to-day operations of the international businesses.
It’s not a leading economic indicator. But Scripps Networks CEO Kenneth Lowe says that programming on his cable channel HGTV “had to be turned on its head” when the housing bubble burst a few years ago. Viewers suddenly wanted to know how to flip their house, not just how to make it beautiful. But things are changing, he hopes: “As we slowly build the housing market back, it will have a positive effect on HGTV.” So will improvements at the network’s popular show House Hunters, where ratings have softened. “Stabilization is the key word” for that show, Lowe says. That concept is important for all of Scripps’ lifestyle-focused services. When it comes to advertising, “we’re not seeing a lot of things to be concerned about, but we’re watching along with the rest of the industry,” says Lori Hickok, EVP Finance. Lowe’s upbeat, though, because he says Scripps’ channels are “the female equivalent of ESPN. They’re must-have. … The passion and connection that female viewers have for these networks is second to none.” Even among those viewers, Scripps saw a shift last year to sports programming, which Lowe says “was a little unusual.” He attributes that to the growing appeal of live shows. Read More »
Shares are down 2.6% in pre-market trading following the 3Q earnings report from the owner of lifestyle channels including HGTV and the Food Network. The company said it had nearly $130M in net income, down 4.5% vs last year’s 3Q, on revenues of $503.7M, up 7.9%. Analysts expected to see $509.7M. Earnings at 65 cents a share matched the Street’s expectation — but included several one-time gains and losses. Factoring those out, the company says its continuing operations delivered 66 cents. Scripps says that its decision to produce new shows at all its networks contributed to a 25% increase in programming costs and a 33% increase in marketing and promotion expenses. Those outweighed an 8.6% gain in ad revenues, to $344M, and 6.1% improvement in affiliate fees, to $148M. As for revenues at the major channels: Food Network was +12% to $180M, HGTV was +4.1% to $181M, Travel Channel was +0.4% to $62.6M, DIY Network was +3.7% to $23.7M, Cooking Channel was +36% to $16.6M, and Great American Country was -21% to $6.1M. “Our strategy to stay focused on these attractive content categories has resulted in consistent growth for the company and the creation of significant value for our shareholders,” says CEO Kenneth Lowe.
Scripps Networks stayed on course in 2Q, which is a contrast to other cable channel owners that ended the period with mixed messages. The company generated $77.4M in net income, a drop of 27% from the period last year, which was muddied by changes related to Scripps’ acquisition of the Travel Channel and recent sale of Shopzilla, an online comparative shopping site. On an apples-to-apples basis, profits would be up 19% in the quarter, the company says. Revenues were up 12% to $534M. The earnings from continuing operations, at 78 cents a share, beat the 72 cents that analysts expected, while the revenues were on target. Scripps says that it saw improvement at all of its channels except Great American Country, where revenues fell 31% to $5.9M. With increased ad sales and fees from pay TV companies, Food Network revenues were up 8.2% to $187M, HGTV increased 8.9% to $189M, and Travel was up 15% to $70.3M. “Put it all together, and the company succeeded in delivering solid doubt-digit growth in revenue and segment profit during the second quarter and is on track for another outstanding year,” CEO Ken Lowe says.
The cable industry is livid today over a new FCC order that makes it harder for pay TV distributors to mess around with independently owned channels. Regulators clarified the rules of engagement called for by the 1992 Cable Act to resolve contract disputes that channels have with cable and satellite companies. One provision particularly infuriates cable: The FCC says channels can’t be interrupted during a fight; for example, Cablevision customers lost Food Network and HGTV in early 2010 when Scripps wanted to raise the price for its services. A standstill order would keep existing contract terms in place while the FCC resolves the matter. The agency particularly wants to prevent cable operators from using their near-monopoly power in TV distribution to favor channels that they own — or extort channel owners to sell equity in order to guarantee carriage. Public interest advocates welcome the change. “This will promote diversity in cable TV offerings by insuring that independent cable channels have a shot at getting carriage on large cable systems” says Media Access Project policy director Andrew Jay Schwartzman. But former FCC Chairman Michael Powell — now CEO of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association — says the order shows “little regard for the limits of agency authority or constitutional rights, and a disturbing lack of appreciation of the potential impact of government intervention on consumers or the marketplace.” Read More »
Scripps Networks seemed to dash investor hopes that it might be sold when the owner of HGTV and the Food Network announced today a plan to buy back $1 billion of its stock — including $300 million from its controlling shareholder, The Edward W. Scripps Trust. Speculation about a sale grew on June 17 when the trust asked a probate court for a ruling that would have made it easier for family members to sell their shares. It would have dissolved the trust on the death of Edward W. Scripps’ last grandchild, who’s 93. Scripps’ stock price rose 5.9%, the biggest single-day jump in two years. After the company announced its stock repurchase, the share price fell 19 cents to $48.88. Scripps Networks CEO Ken Lowe says the decision “demonstrates our faith in the financial strength of our lifestyle media businesses and the company’s ability to generate strong free cash flow.”
After a three-day blackout of Scripps Networks’ cable networks, including HGTV and Food Network, on AT&T U-Verse, the two sides tonight reached a new distribution agreement. The five Scripps channels affected, HGTV, Food Network, DIY, Cooking Channel and Great American Country have been restored in 2.7 million AT&T U-verse homes. Details of the agreement were not disclosed, though AT&T U-Verse SVP Brian Shay called it a “fair deal.”
Another week, another carriage dispute that escalated into channels being pulled from a cable/satellite system. This time, it is the Scripps Networks, including HGTV and Food Network, which went black on AT&T U-Verse at 1 AM. The same networks were also off Cablevision for 3 weeks at the beginning of the year as part of the two sides’ nasty carriage dispute. In the summer, AT&T U-Verse came close to losing AMC in a standoff with Rainbow Media but the companies reached a last-minute agreement, preventing a blackout. Here is AT&T’s release: Read More »