As expected, Wednesday's announcement that the next Survivorseries will see the show's "tribes" divided along racial lines has begun to generate controversy. In New York, City Councilman John Liu, calling the plan "preposterous," told the Associated Press that he plans to launch a campaign urging CBS not to broadcast the show, which is scheduled to debut on Sept. 14. He said that a coalition of officials, including the city council's black, Latino and Asian caucus, was planning a protest rally at City Hall set for today (Friday). Mychal Massie, national chairman of the conservative African-American group Project 21, told, a unit of the conservative Media Research Center, that the show will perpetuate "a racial divide, and I'm not certain that this particular racial divide is not intentional to show one [racial] group as more adept or more adroit than another group." New York Post TV columnist Linda Stasi remarked that "the whole concept is racist. Of course, it's ugly as can be. ... So will 'Survivor: Race Wars' be a ratings winner? You bet! If racism hadn't turned into entertainment, it wouldn't be called 'playing the race card.'"


A New York operator of a small satellite TV company has been arrested in New York on charges of providing broadcasts of the Hezbollah-backed station Al Manar. It was not clear how the signal from the station was being distributed to households or how many were receiving it. Al Manar can also be seen by anyone on the Internet, for free. Today's (Friday) New York Timessaid the man, Javed Iqbal, operated his company, HDTV Ltd., from a storefront in Brooklyn and from his garage in Staten Island and that he also provided satellite programs from Christian evangelists. The newspaper noted that Al Manar was designated a global terrorist entity by the U.S. last March. It was targeted by Israelis during the recent war in Lebanon. In a statement, Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York office of the ACLU, claimed that the statue under which Iqbal was being prosecuted "includes a First Amendment exemption that prevents the government from punishing people for importing news communications. ... The fact that the government is proceeding with the prosecution in spite of [the exemption] raises serious questions about how free our market place of ideas is."


Walter Cronkite taped the announcer's opening of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couricthat is being used during rehearsals for the new show, which launches on Sept. 5, the Philadelphia Inquirerreported today (Friday), citing CBS insiders. The newspaper said that no decision has yet made on whether the "open" will be used when the show goes on the air. "We're not ready to confirm any of the details about CBS Evening News that have not already been announced," a network spokesperson told the Inquirer.


With audience interest high in the recent conflict between the Hezbollah and Israel and the arrest of a man in the JonBenet Ramsey murder case, ABC's Nightlinehas topped CBS's Late Show with David Lettermanfor the third consecutive week to place second behind the Tonightshow with Jay Leno. According to Nielsen Research, Leno averaged 4.52 million viewers last week, well ahead of Nightline's 3.71 million. Letterman was close behind with 3.56 million. Although it was feared that Nightline's audience would fall off steeply following the departure of Ted Koppel last fall, the show has actually seen a 17-percent increase in its audience.


TiVo appeared to be on a roll Thursday as, days after winning a significant legal victory against EchoStar Communications, operators of the DISH home satellite system, the company said that it had reached a deal with Cox Communications to install its own software in the digital video recorders that Cox provides subscribers. The deal presumably forestalls any possibility of a similar patent-infringement case being mounted by TiVo against Cox. TiVo reached a similar deal with Comcast, the nation's largest cable company, last year.