COURIC -- RESIGNED TO RESIGNATION?
Amid increasing speculation about whether CBS plans to remove Katie Couric as anchor of the CBS Evening News, today's (Friday) Los Angeles Times is reporting that Couric herself is expressing discontent over the harder-edged form the newscast has taken. "The reality is, it's not the newscast she came to do, and she's disappointed," a network source close to Couric told the newspaper. "But she's one of those people who says, 'This isn't what I signed up for, but for right now, I'm in it 190 percent.'" The Times and other newspapers today, including the New York Times, reported that Couric met with CBS CEO Les Moonves and CBS News President Sean McManus to discuss the possibility of leaving.
FERGUSON BEATS O'BRIEN FOR FIRST TIME
In what must have come as a shock to NBC, which plans to replace Jay Leno with Conan O'Brien next year, the latest ratings for late-night shows revealed Thursday that CBS's Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson beat O'Brien's Late Night for the first time in which both shows aired original shows opposite one another. According to Nielsen figures, Ferguson averaged 1.88 million viewers last week to O'Brien's 1.77 million. Peter Lassally, the executive producer of Ferguson's show, which is produced by David Letterman's WorldWide Pants, told the Associated Press that Ferguson is "having such a good time that you can't resist it as a viewer."
CBS LET'S SECRET OUT
CBS ensured that Secret Talents of the Stars will remain a secret by yanking the show just three nights after it debuted on Tuesday in Jericho's former time slot. The show had posted a 3.2 rating and a 5 share, representing about a third of the audience that tuned in a week earlier for the conclusion of a CSI: Miami two-parter and three-quarters of the audience that tuned in two weeks ago for the series finale of Jericho. CBS said that it plans to air its magazine show 48 Hours Mysteries in the time period for the next two weeks, then turn it over to its returning legal drama Shark.
SEARS, WAL-MART, CIRCUIT CITY FINED BY FCC
The Federal Communications Commission, which generally limits itself to overseeing the conduct of broadcasters and the manufacturers of broadcasting equipment, announced Thursday that it plans to fine Sears, Wal-Mart, Circuit City and four other retailers for not informing customers that the analog TV sets they were buying would not receive signals from over-the-air stations after February 17, 2009 -- when all TV stations are required to switch over to digital. The FCC said that U.S.-based Vizio, South Korea's LG Electronics, and five other manufacturers had agreed to settle the matter for $3.4 million. The FCC disclosed that its staffers had made unannounced visits to more than 2,100 stores last spring to determine whether buyers of analog TV sets were being properly informed that they would not work without converter boxes following the cut-off date.
BOTH SIDES CLAIM VICTORY IN RATHER RULING
A New York state Supreme Court judge on Thursday tossed out four of the seven causes of action included in Dan Rather's lawsuit against CBS. Each side claimed that Justice Ira Gammerman's ruling represented a victory for itself. Rather's attorneys said that the action would allow the key parts of the veteran journalist's lawsuit against the network to go forward, allowing Rather access to records that he has said would prove that CBS's decision to remove him as anchor of the nightly newscast was part of an effort to curry favor with the White House; CBS's lawyer said that the network was "obviously" pleased with the ruling, which in particular threw out individual claims against Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone, CBS CEO Les Moonves and former CBS News President Andrew Heyward. The judge also dismissed Rather's fraud claim, saying it was not filed within the statutory time limit. "Basically what's left is a garden-variety contract dispute based on whether Dan Rather got enough air time on 60 Minutes," the CBS lawyer, James Quinn, said.
PTC ASSAILS MTV, BET
The Parents Television Council, the group principally responsible for generating protests against broadcast indecency, has turned its attention on cable networks. Although it is unlikely to find a sympathetic ear among regulators as it did when it weighed in against broadcasters -- the FCC does not regulate cable content -- the group said that its findings would support efforts to force cable providers to allow customers to choose which channels can come into their homes. The PTC claimed that both MTV and BET aired programs "full of offensive and vulgar content, the likes of which cannot yet be found on broadcast television," during times when children were likely to be watching. "We thought we'd seen it all - but even we were taken aback by what we found in the music video programs on MTV and BET that are targeted directly at impressionable children," PTC President Tim Winter said in a statement.