NBC'S NFL DEAL "BRINGS GOOD THINGS TO LIFE"

NBC's $600-million deal with the National Football League may not represent a loss leader as originally reported, according to MediaWeek magazine Under terms of the deal, the magazine said, all 32 NFL will be required to use products from NBC's corporate parent, General Electric, ranging from financial, healthcare and medical services to the stadium lights and medical equipment. The trade publication cited a report suggesting that as part of the deal GE could sell between $300 million and $500 million worth of products to the NFL each year.

NIELSEN CLAIMS ANTI-PEOPLE METER GROUP IS FRONT FOR NEWS CORP

Ratings giant Nielsen Media Research charged over the weekend that the group called Don't Count Us Out, which claimed that Nielsen's local People Meters failed to give fair representation to minorities, is in fact a front for Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. In a statement, Nielsen said that Don't Count Us Out was created by a political lobbying firm, The Glover Park Group, "to advance the corporate interests of News Corp. and its TV stations, which experienced lower ratings after Nielsen replaced paper diaries with more accurate electronic Local People Meters in major television markets." Nielsen also claimed that Glover Park Group had admitted "directing a campaign to disrupt Nielsen's operations in which calls and e-mails were targeted at Nielsen executives, shutting down their corporate switchboard." The "admissions," Nielsen said, were set down in a posting on Glover Park Group's website, which said that News Corp had turned to it "to devise a campaign to fight back" against the local People Meters. It did so, the statement said, by enlisting minority activists in "a grassroots campaign, including public protests and rallies" forcing Nielsen "to delay the roll-out of the new system." In a statement DCUO said that it had not tried to hide the fact that it had received financial help from News Corp. "Nielsen should spend more time fixing its broken ratings system and less time slinging mud at community activists," it said.

RIGHT-WING TALK-SHOW HOST CLAIMS HE'S BLACKBALLED AT FNC

Radio talk-show host Michael Savage claims that Fox News Channel had barred him from appearing on the channel after he called Fox commentator Bill O'Reilly a "leper-con who poses as a conservative" and Sean Hannity "another Republican bootlicker." Savage claims that after he made those comments, he was dropped from four appearances on the channel. "These two are now acting the way the mainstream media has been acting for decades, thinking they are the gatekeepers of who shall be heard in the conservative world," Savage said in a statement. "Both are jealous of my audience and are trying to silence me because they do not want the competition."

DID 60 MINUTES PRODUCER SEEK FAVORS FROM HAWAIIAN HOTELS?

Touching off another tempest over CBS's journalistic ethics, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin has reported that 60 Minutes producer Ira Rosen asked the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau for discount rates in Kauai and Maui for a planned family vacation. The bureau sent an email message to hotels and vendors on the two islands, providing Rosen's Internet address at CBS. The network quickly sent out a statement maintaining that "our producer was not seeking any special treatment. This was a complete misunderstanding."

ROONEY FIT TO BE TIED

Andy Rooney Sunday night took aim at television news executives who are consciously trying to court younger viewers, taking special note of the fact that John Roberts, substituting for Bob Schieffer on the CBS Evening News appeared on camera without a necktie -- as did correspondents Allen Pizzey and Wyatt Andrews. Commented Rooney on his 60 Minutes segment: "I suppose that John, Allen and Wyatt wanted to look good to a younger audience that doesn't wear neckties -- and doesn't watch the Evening News either, of course." However, Rooney obviously has mixed feelings about that ornamental fabric hanging below his chin: "I'll be honest. I wear a necktie mostly because I've always worn a necktie, and I've always worn one because most of the other guys wear them. This isn't a good reason to wear a necktie, so maybe John Roberts is right. But maybe he's wrong, too. There are some standards we live by that don't come naturally to us. We curb our animal desires. We say 'Good morning' and 'Have a nice day' to strangers. We eat with knives and forks instead of with our fingers. For a lot of men, wearing a necktie is one of those relatively unimportant social conventions that contribute to a civilized day at the office."

BRITISH TORIES CLAIM BBC SET UP HECKLERS

The BBC was plunged into yet another controversy Sunday when it turned out that it had placed microphones on three hecklers attending an address by Conservative Party leader Michael Howard. Guy Black, a spokesman for the party, charged that the BBC had engaged in "a deliberate attempt to generate a false news story and dramatize coverage." The BBC said that the men had been recruited as part of a "completely legitimate program about the history and art of political heckling. The program observes hecklers at other parties' campaign meetings and not just the Conservatives." But Britain's Sunday Telegraph said that no meetings by Labor Party leader Tony Blair were similarly disrupted.

REUTERS TO HELP LAUNCH INDIAN NEWS CHANNEL

Reuters Group has agreed to buy a 26-percent stake in the broadcasting arm of the Times of India Group for about $20 million and provide programming for a 24-hour news-and-current-affairs channel set to debut later this year, the Wall Street Journal reported today (Monday). "It's our first real significant investment for some time in consumer media," Chris Ahearn, president of Reuters Media, told the Journal. "It's part of our new strategy to reach out to urban professional individuals."

WON IN TRANSLATION

Sydney Pollack's The Interpreter, starring Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn left box office analysts speechless over the weekend as it debuted with far higher results than expected. The Universal film opened in first place with $22.8 million. The second-place finisher also surprised; it was MGM's The Amityville Horror, which dropped only 40 percent from its opening weekend last week to $14.2 million. (Ordinarily horror films drop more than 50 percent in their second week.) Paramount's Sahara also performed strongly as it fell just 31 percent from a week ago to $14.2 million. Ashton Kutcher's offer to appear in an underwear ad if his latest movie, A Lot Like Love opened in first place did not entice a sufficient number of female fans. The Disney romantic comedy opened in fourth with $7.7 million. The first week of Sony Pictures Classics' Kung Fu Hustle in wide release earned $7.3 million, finishing fifth. Total box office ticket sales for the top 12 films were about flat with last year at $83.4 million, according to Bloomberg News, but Daily Variety reported that the entire box office was 6 percent behind the comparable weekend in 2004. The trade publication quoted Disney distribution chief Chuck Viane as saying, "The business continues to be softer than people have been expecting. It just seems the public has a very [lackadaisical] approach to going to the movies."

The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:

1. The Interpreter, $22.8 million; 2. The Amityville Horror, $14.2 million; 3. Sahara, $9 million; 4. A Lot Like Love, $7.7 million; 5. Kung Fu Hustle, $7.3 million; 6. Fever Pitch, $5.45 million; 7. Sin City, $3.7 million; 8. Guess Who, $3.5 million; 9. Robots, $3.3 million; 10. King's Ransom, $2.4 million.

NETFLIX CAN'T WIN FOR LOSING

Netflix may have a 56-percent jump in the number of subscribers (3 million, currently) and a 53-percent leap in gross revenue during the first quarter compared with last year, but it ended up with a loss of $8.8 million 54 percent greater than its loss of $5.7 million a year ago. The expanding loss was attributed to the price war with Blockbuster and Wal-Mart and to increased costs of acquiring new subscribers, which now averages $37.89 for each.

HOLLYWOOD VIDEO AND MOVIE GALLERY MERGER APPROVED

Hollywood Entertainment shareholders formally approved Movie Gallery's $1.2-billion cash buyout offer on Friday, setting the stage for a completion of the merger by Wednesday. With the Hollywood Video rental stores, Movie Gallery will become the second-largest video renter in the world (with more than 4,500 stores), behind only Blockbuster.

CARIB TRIBE LEADER TRIES TO HALT PIRATES SHOOTING

Some members of the Carib tribe on the island of Dominica, including the chief, are calling on fellow members to boycott the production of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean sequel because of a scene in which Johnny Depp's character is captured and tied to a skewer with fruits and vegetables "like a shish kebob," the Los Angeles Times reported today (Monday). Chief Charles Williams maintains that the film perpetuates the myth that the Caribs were cannibals. "Today, that myth, that stigma is still alive," Williams told the Los Angeles Times. "Today, Disney wants to popularize that stigma one more time, this time through film, and film is a powerful tool of propaganda." Disney has hired about 400 locals to work on the sequel, but Williams told the Times: "For me, a good name is better than riches. ... Shame on us that for a few dollars we are betraying our flesh and blood."

OSCAR WINNER JOHN MILLS DEAD AT 97

John Mills, who made his feature-film debut 73 years ago and received a best-supporting actor Oscar for David Lean's 1970 film Ryan's Daughter, died Saturday at his home near London at the age of 97. He generally appeared as the English Everyman, modest, emotionally repressed, and deferential. He was directed by Lean in four other films, In Which We Serve in 1942, Noel Coward's This Happy Breed in 1944, Great Expectations in 1946 and Hobson's Choice in 1954. In the 1960s, he appeared in several films that starred his daughters, Hayley and Juliet. He had been active as an actor to the end.