BASEBALL A HIT FOR FOX
The final game of the National League Championship Series posted strong ratings for Fox Wednesday night as the Houston Astros beat the St. Louis Cardinals to earn a trip to the World Series for the first time in their history. Nevertheless, the game, which averaged an 8.3 rating and a 13 share, was edged out by ABC's 8.4/13, thanks entirely to its hit drama Lost at 9:00 p.m. The game registered a 6.9/11 at 8:00 p.m., beating out NBC's E-Ring which scored a 6.2/10 and easily beat out ABC's comedies George Lopez and Freddie on ABC and appeared to justify ABC's decision to move the drama out of the 9:00 hour where it had faced Lost. At 9:00 Lost drew a 12.4/19, beating the baseball game's 8.8/13and CBS's Criminal Minds' 8.3/12. Apprentice: Martha Stewart finished fourth with a 5.5/8. The final hour of the baseball game put Fox on top again at 10:00 p.m. with a 9.3/14. CBS was close behind with a 9.0/14 for CSI: NY. NBC's Law & Order placed third with an 8.2/13, while ABC's Invasion trailed with a 7.4/12.
SINCLAIR SUES FORMER WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF FOR RATTING ON IT
Sinclair Broadcasting has sued its former Washington bureau chief, Jonathan Leiberman, who was fired last year after giving an interview to the Baltimore Sun in which he called a Sinclair-produced documentary condemning Senator John Kerry "biased political propaganda." In the lawsuit, Sinclair was accused of violating his contract by disclosing confidential information about the company and by working for other news outlets after he was fired. "In fact," the lawsuit read, "Leiberman admitted to the media after his termination that he violated Company policy, and knew that termination of his employment was a possible consequence of his breach of his Agreement." Last May, Sinclair sent a letter to the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, protesting its decision to give Leiberman an award and citing a decision by the Maryland Department of labor that Leiberman had violated provisions of his contract. In its response, the university's judging panel wrote that the decision "does not negate the fact that [Lieberman] acted in order to uphold values that are central to the practice of journalism in the public interest."
ABC NEWS CHIEF SAYS NETWORK MUST AVOID SOME NEWS
ABC News President David Westin admitted Wednesday that "some information is not being told to the American people, despite the fact that the information is true and it otherwise deserves to be told" because of fear that prosecutors will target reporters as witnesses about the stories they have written about and demand that they reveal their sources. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Westin said that the decisions by some prosecutors to go after journalists "now influences editorial decisions we make at ABC News. More than ever, our decision whether to report a story depends on more than simply whether we are confident of the truth of our story and its importance. Increasingly, we have to consider as well whether -- even if we're sure we're right and we believe the story worth reporting -- it's worth someone potentially going to jail." Westin supported a proposed shield law (Reporter's Privilege Legislation) that would also limit government's access to non-published material for use in legal proceedings. He told the committee: "If those with whom we deal were to conclude that we were, in effect, acting as potential fact-finders for the government, they would be far less willing to tell us what they know."
ADVERTISERS CONFUSED OVER NEW RATINGS "STREAMS"
Advertisers are expressing confusion over Nielsen Research's plans to add three more "streams" of ratings data to the current one. One would include the viewing of TV shows via digital video recorders like TiVo during the first 24 hours after the original broadcasts. Another would include DVR viewing during the week following the original broadcasts. A third stream is being described as a "hybrid," primarily for journalists who track the ratings. "It's going to become a problem when it comes down to negotiating [with the networks] -- which is the one to use," Steve Sternberg of Magna Global told the online trade journal MediaDailyNews.
ABC FINALLY ORDERS MORE EPISODES OF COMMANDER IN CHIEF
ABC, which had appeared to be dragging its feet over extending its hit drama Commander in Chief, ordered nine additional episodes Wednesday to assure it of a full 22-episode season. Earlier this month, ABC, reportedly concerned about production delays, installed veteran producer Steven Bochco as CiC's actual showrunner although allowing series creator Rod Lurie to retain the title of executive producer.
DONALD BLAMES MARTHA FOR LOWER APPRENTICE RATINGS
Donald Trump has acknowledged that the decision by NBC to produce a second The Apprentice program with Martha Stewart as its star was a mistake and that his original show has suffered for it. "I think there was confusion between Martha's Apprentice and mine," he told ABC radio. "Mine continues to do well, and as you know, the other one has struggled severely." (Trump's Apprentice audience is down almost 40 percent from last year.) Stewart's show, he said, "probably hurt mine and I sort of predicted that it would."
PARAMOUNT KISSES DREAMWORKS GOODNIGHT
Paramount has removed itself as a suitor for DreamWorks, the Los Angeles Times reported today (Thursday), The newspaper indicated that higher-ups at Paramount's corporate parent, Viacom, made the decision because they felt that investors might balk at such an acquisition just as Viacom was planning to split into two publicly traded companies. The Times said that Paramount chief Brad Grey had "fiercely championed the idea of bringing DreamWorks into the studio's fold" but that his plans to do so were torpedoed last weekend at a meeting with Viacom chief Sumner Redstone and Viacom co-President Tom Freston in Scottsdale, AZ.
DISNEY BOARD LISTS MORE CAUSES FOR WHICH IT CAN FIRE CEO
The Walt Disney Co., criticized by shareholders for failing to fire former President Michael Ovitz "for cause," has expanded the definition of for-cause termination in its contract with new CEO Robert Iger, according to Fortune magazine. Fortune reports in its current issue that in Iger's case, "cause" can include failing to cooperate in any investigation of the company's business practices. In an interview with the magazine, attorney Stephen Fackler remarked that the new change "signals the efforts of the board to establish a different sort of board-CEO relationship in the post-Eisner era."
ANGRY NEWS CORP MEETING EXPECTED ON FRIDAY
News Corp, which may have become accustomed to hot-tempered remarks being uttered at its annual meetings in Australia, is preparing for more of the same when it holds its annual meeting in New York on Friday. Today's (Thursday) Wall Street Journal reported that some institutional shareholders are angry over Rupert Murdoch's decision to extend the company's so-called poison-pill takeover defense without seeking a vote on the matter by the company's board. "The pill has to go. The pill has no place in the governance of major American corporations," said Lawrence Haverty, an associate portfolio manager at Gabelli Asset Management Inc., told the Journal.
KINGDOM OF HEAVEN BECOMES A HIT -- ON DVD
Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven, which reportedly cost $130 million to produce but earned only $47 million at the domestic box office, was the No. 1 movie in home-video sales and rentals last week, according to Nielsen's VideoScan. It replaced last week's chart-topping Cinderella from Disney's Buena Vista Home Entertainment.
NETFLIX SAYS IT WON'T OFFER MOVIES FOR DOWNLOADING THIS YEAR
Online DVD renter Netflix has reportedly abandoned plans to begin offering downloads of movies to its subscribers this year. According to Home Media Retailing, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said during a conference with analysts that the studios are demanding prohibitive licensing fees as they seek to prevent additional bootlegging of their films. He said Netflix will consider a movie download service again once "the content climate begins to thaw." Hastings also indicated that a previously announced legal settlement cut Netflix's profit for the quarter by $3.2 million shares. Combined with word that Apple was moving full-speed-ahead with a video download service and recent comments from analysts that Netflix's stock may be overpriced, the news pushed Netflix's shares down 5.26 percent on Wednesday.
BLU-RAY LIKELY TO WIN FORMAT WAR, SAYS ANALYST
Sony is likely to win the high-definition DVD format war against Toshiba, according to an analysis by Forrester Research. In a report issued today (Thursday), Forrester analyst Ted Schadler said that the continuing war will only result in discouraging consumers from buying a high-definition DVD player. "The longer the battle continues, consumers don't benefit as much as they could because they might buy the wrong one," Schadler told Bloomberg News. Sony's Blu-ray system has been approved by the majority of film studios, while Toshiba's HD-DVD system recently picked up support from Microsoft and Intel. Meanwhile, Hewlett-Packard, a member of the Blu-ray camp, asked Sony to include in its format technology that would allow consumers to legally copy DVDs onto their PCs and other devices.
U.K. CENSORS WON'T LET PRE-TEENS SEE NEW POTTER MOVIE WITHOUT PARENT
For the first time, a Harry Potter movie has been classified 12A by British censors, barring children under 12 from seeing it unless accompanied by an adult. "Younger viewers could be frightened by some of the more intense scenes" in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the British Board of Film Classification ruled. The rating is stronger than the U.S. PG-13 -- the rating Goblet of Fire received here -- which merely warns parents that the film may be inappropriate for children under the age of 13 but does not prevent them from seeing it.
LONDON FILM FESTIVAL OPENS
The 49th annual London Film Festival is scheduled to open tonight (Thursday) with a screening of The Constant Gardener. More than 180 films from 50 countries are due to be shown between now and Nov. 3, when the festival closes with a screening of George Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck. More than 100,000 people are expected to attend.