Johnnie L.

Stories by Johnnie L. Roberts

  • I Want My (Web) MTV

    Digital impresario Mika Salmi is transforming Viacom's MTV Networks into a new-media powerhouse, saving it from a fate worse than death: middle age.
  • Twilight of the Media Moguls

    John Malone helped build a generation of media titans like no other—only to cut them down to size and reveal them as mere mortals. Just ask Barry Diller.
  • Regan and Murdoch Settle

    She bought O. J. Simpson's manuscript. She got fired. After that, it got ugly.
  • Foxy Business News

    Rupert Murdoch serves Wall Street to the masses with banter, beer and breasts. Watch out, CNBC.
  • Prick Up Your Rabbit Ears

    When cable TV arrived in the ' 70s, rabbit ears seemed destined to go the way of the polyester pantsuit. So, too, the clunky outdoor antenna, a rooftop fixture that once upon a time signaled the rise of television in American life. But a funny thing happened on the way to the analog dust heap: it turns out that a new generation of rabbit ears and antennas can receive high-definition television broadcasts. And it's free.The irony is marvelous. Pushed into obsolescence by the technological advances of cable and satellite, antennas are re-emerging thanks to one of the most promising high-tech services of the digital age. High-def channels can be plucked out of thin air by antennas just like regular broadcast signals--no cable, no satellite dish, no monthly bill, no waiting for the cable man. It's like the old days, except this time antennas (which cost between $18 and $150) may offer the clearest picture. "More than 90 percent of our customers say they want the antennas for high-def,"...
  • Out of Bounds

    Jimmy Dolan's sports empire is a humiliation. Does that make him unfit to run Daddy's cable company?
  • The Redstones: A Family Feud for the Ages

    Sumner Redstone is cranky. He's having a huge falling-out with his daughter, Shari—once considered the 84-year-old mogul's heir apparent—and it looks as if she may leave the family media empire, which controls Viacom and CBS. And the split with Shari, 53, is hardly the only conflict Sumner has had lately. His son, Brent, wiped his hands of the family business this spring after suing his dad and sister for allegedly freezing him out—settling for as much as $250 million, people familiar with the matter say. Sumner's battling a multibillion-dollar lawsuit by his nephew, who accuses him of "self-dealing" that deprived the nephew and his late sister of their stake in the Redstone enterprise. Sumner sent Tom Cruise packing from Paramount Studios, and then did the same to Viacom honcho Tom Freston. He's bickering with CBS chief Leslie Moonves over the size of the executive's compensation. And at Herbert Allen's annual mogul fest in bucolic Sun Valley this month, Redstone got into a war of...
  • How Murdoch Would Change Dow Jones

    Rupert Murdoch is destined to dramatically change The Wall Street Journal's culture. But not in the way most critics are predicting.
  • Inside the Murdoch-Dow Jones Courtship

    The Bancrofts are the most important family you've never heard of. With the Murdochs in the hunt for Dow Jones, a media saga takes a new turn.
  • HBO: Who's Who in the Post-Albrecht CEO Race

    No sooner had Time Warner announced that it forced out HBO's chief executive, Hollywood started buzzing about his likely successor.  Rating some of the contenders.
  • Starr: Don Imus Is Us

    There is no excuse for what Don Imus said about the Rutgers women's basketball team. There is, however, an explanation. And you probably won't like it.
  • Embarrassing Moment for Katie Couric

    An entry from the CBS's anchor's video 'Notebook' shares some uncomfortable similarities with a Wall Street Journal column. How musings about a library led to some embarrassing moments—and the firing of a network producer.
  • Hollywood's New Moguls Shake Things Up

    Superrich Sidney Kimmel and Sam Nazarian are out to shake things up in Tinseltown. But will the old guard shake them down before they get the chance?
  • Prick Up Your Rabbit Ears

    When cable TV arrived in the ' 70s, rabbit ears seemed destined to go the way of the polyester pantsuit. So, too, the clunky outdoor antenna, a rooftop fixture that once upon a time signaled the rise of television in American life. But a funny thing happened on the way to the analog dust heap: it turns out that a new generation of rabbit ears and antennas can receive high-definition television broadcasts. And it's free.The irony is marvelous. Pushed into obsolescence by the technological advances of cable and satellite, antennas are re-emerging thanks to one of the most promising high-tech services of the digital age. High-def channels can be plucked out of thin air by antennas just like regular broadcast signals--no cable, no satellite dish, no monthly bill, no waiting for the cable man. It's like the old days, except this time antennas (which cost between $18 and $150) may offer the clearest picture. "More than 90 percent of our customers say they want the antennas for high-def,"...
  • Media: Trying A New Journey

    Adventures in Capitalism" was the high-testosterone tag line for The Wall Street Journal's previous ad campaign, in 1997, to promote the brand. The paper was recently made over--taking three inches from the width and adding an emphasis on forward-looking journalism--so it's time to freshen up with a new campaign. "Every journey needs a Journal," says the new tag line, positioning the paper to speak less to readers' inner Striver than their inner Seeker. The ad blitz begins next week in major publications and Web sites. The ads are essentially celebrity endorsements, highlighting the Journal's role in the inspiring "life journeys" of a diverse mix of people including singer Sheryl Crow, "Freakonomics" coauthor and University of Chicago professor Steven Levitt and Jack Burton, founder of Burton Snowboards.The Journal wanted people who weren't megafamous but who "had an interesting life journey, read The Wall Street Journal and were successful," Ann Marks, Dow Jones's chief marketing...
  • The King Of HDTV

    John Malone Built A Cable Empire That Changed Television Forever. Now He's Trying To Repeat The Feat With A High-Definition Satellite-Tv Dynasty.
  • CNBC, Take Two

    Back in the roaring '90s, CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo was the face of business news--the "Money Honey" whom everyone on Wall Street wanted to sit down with for a sexy chat about convertible subordinated debentures (or some such). But then the tech bubble burst, and CNBC's fortunes sank with the market. Struggling to recover, the GE-owned network seemed dazed and confused, hiring bad-boy tennis great John McEnroe and dubious others for primetime talk shows that failed. Now the market's back--and so are CNBC and Bartiromo. Just last week she snagged "gets" with Treasury boss Henry Paulson and embattled Yahoo CEO Terry Semel. "I do feel a great reception when I'm calling people to come on the program," she says. Things are even more fun for CNBC's unlikely star Jim Cramer, manic host of "Mad Money," a stock-touting show that's inexplicably won him a cult-like following on college campuses. "Suddenly, I get good tables at restaurants," he says. "But my 12-year-old daughter is...