THAT FRONT-PAGE L.A. TIMES STORY IS A FAKE

Reportedly raising howls of protest by its reporters and editors, the Los Angeles Times devotes nearly a third of the "below the fold" portion of its front page today (Thursday) to an advertisement for NBC's new series Southland. A portion of the ad appears to be a news story headlined "Southland's Rookie Hero" and sub-headed, "A ride along on an officer's first day." In its lede paragraph, the story says that "this reporter got a chance to ride along for a rookie's unforgettable first watch." The words, "NBC Advertisement" appear at the top of the article. The website LAObserved.com quoted NBC Entertainment marketing president Adam Stotsky as saying, "We thought it was an interesting, provocative, breakthrough idea: Treating a fictional story in an editorial context for Angelenos inside the L.A. Times connected to our show." Asked by TVWeek how much NBC paid for the ad, Stotsky declined to reply, saying only that the newspaper "recognizes that their most valued real estate is their front-page news section. ... It was priced accordingly."

FBI CHIEF CALLS FOR BOOSTING INTERNET DOWNLOADS

Days after a U.N. report placed the U.S. at No. 17 on a list of 154 countries ranked on their advanced use of communications technology (Sweden was ranked No. 1, followed by South Korea, Denmark, the Netherlands and Iceland), FCC interim chief Michael Copps asked the public Wednesday to provide feedback on "pragmatic, practical, achievable goals" to ensure high-speed broadband access for everyone. Opening proceedings Wednesday looking into ways to implement the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's requirement that the FCC come up with a detailed strategy to deploy an advanced, affordable broadband system, Copps said in a statement, "If we do our job well, this will be the most formative -- indeed transformative -- proceeding ever in the commission's history."

FBI CALLING

The FBI warned recipients of email messages saying that they had been selected as nominees to appear on "The Oprah Millionaire Contest Show" that the notices are fraudulent. According to the Los Angeles Times, the FBI was investigating the messages that asked the recipients for contact information, offered to sell them tickets to The Oprah Winfrey Show and encouraged them to book their travel arrangements to Chicago through them. A notice posted on Oprah.com says in part: "The Oprah Winfrey Show and Harpo Productions are not sponsors nor do we have any involvement whatsoever with this e-mail solicitation. Individuals who receive such unauthorized e-mails are encouraged to file a complaint with the FBI at IC3.gov. Authorities have told us that there are at least a dozen scams currently being perpetrated which promise tickets, travel and money from The Oprah Winfrey Show. You should know that Harpo never sells tickets or travel packages."

TV OVER YOUR CELL PHONE?

Many residents of the U.K. who are able to access the Internet via wi-fi on their cell phones are now able to receive many BBC television and radio broadcasts at the same time they are broadcast over the air. Use of the LiveTV service requires the purchase of the annual BBC license, which costs the equivalent of about $200. Those caught watching the BBC on their cell phones without a license could be fined as much as $1,500. LiveTV cannot be accessed via Apple's iPhone or the iPod Touch.

IDOL RUNS OVER.

Fox TV apologized Wednesday for American Idol's running eight minutes overtime on Tuesday, saying that "as with all live programming, there are unpredictable elements that affect running time." But Washington Post TV columnist Lisa de Moraes observed that the overrun may have prevented many persons who record the show on their DVRs from seeing the closing performance by Adam Lambert, which evoked a standing ovation from judge Simon Cowell, something that could have affected the vote. As de Moraes observed, "According to Nielsen stats, the difference between the number of people who watch Idol's Tuesday show live and the number who watch later Tuesday via DVR is around 3 million. There are no stats that indicate how many of those 3 million watch Idol via DVR within two hours of the broadcast's conclusion and could therefore cast votes for contestants." On its American Idol website, Fox posted this message: "DVR cut off? See what you missed for free!" and offered a video of Lambert's performance. Tuesday's Idol counted 21.99 million viewers; Wednesday's, 22.43 million.