OBAMA GIVES REPORTERS WAKE-UP CALL

Word that Sen. Barack Obama had chosen Sen. Joe Biden as his vice presidential running mate leaked out in the wee hours of Saturday morning on the East Coast -- hardly the time to garner much news coverage. On the West Coast, word of the choice did merit an interruption of the closing ceremonies of the Olympics on NBC. It also interrupted the conclusion of an ABC 20/20 special about infant mortality for more than three minutes as correspondents George Stephanopoulos (sounding as if he had just been roused out of a sound sleep) and Jake Tapper commented on the decision via a telephone hook-up. On the Internet, numerous tech-oriented sites observed that Biden has strongly supported media companies in their battle to prevent copying of copyrighted material -- even for an individual's own use -- and that he has proposed that the government monitor peer-to-peer websites for illegal downloading. The British tech site The Inquirer said in its lede: "Barack Obama has chosen one of the most rabid pro-music and film industry senators in the business to be his running mate in the forthcoming presidential elections." Wired magazine commented on its website: "Biden doesn't seem to have strayed from the rest of the judiciary committee Democrats' stance of being more of a friend to Hollywood than to Silicon Valley."

OBAMA'S CONVENTION OPENS TONIGHT

The Democratic National Convention is due to open tonight (Monday), but with Barrack Obama already established as the party's presidential nominee and Joe Biden it's vice-presidential, some writers were asking whether the convention -- as well as the upcoming Republican one -- doesn't merely amount to a political infomercial. Others were questioning the need for a political convention at all. Drama was building over whether ailing Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy would attend tonight's (Monday) session. The Boston Herald quoted his son Patrick as saying that his father wants to attend a planned tribute that is to be staged for him tonight. Meanwhile, ABC News is using the convention to launch the expansion of its news programming into HDTV. Not only will it carry the conventions in HDTV, but also its World News With Charles Gibson,Nightline, Primetime and 20/20.

COURIC CELEBRATING SECOND ANNIVERSARY AS CBS ANCHOR

Katie Couric is celebrating her second anniversary as anchor of the CBS Evening News. In an interview with the Baltimore Sun, Couric acknowledged, "It's been, quite candidly, pretty tough some of the time for me in my new job." Noting that her ratings are up in Baltimore and a few other mid-sized markets, Couric said, "To see us gaining and making strides in some of these major markets is wonderful news." Asked about persistent rumors that she plans to step down after the inauguration, Couric replied, "I have no plans to leave. I want to do the best job I possibly can for CBS News. I care about our newscast and my colleagues, and I have no plans to split."

OLYMPICS END; NBC TAKING STOCK

Nielsen Research had not yet released overnight ratings figures for Sunday night's closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Beijing at midday, but reports indicated that overall the games were watched by 211 million viewers in the U.S. and would likely surpass the number who tuned in during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta to become the most-watched event in U.S. TV history. In an interview with the London Financial Times, NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker said that the games had produced a "halo effect" for the network. "I think there's a better feeling about NBC than we have seen for years," he said. "We have advertisers who were delivered far more ratings points than they imagined or than we promised, and morale in the company is very high."

ONLINE COVERAGE NO BIG MONEYMAKER FOR NBC

While NBC has said it raked in more than $1 billion in ad sales for the Olympic Games, only $5.75 million came from online ad revenue, according to eMarketer Inc. On Sunday, the New York Times reported that NBC had employed its NBCOlympics.com primarily as a "research laboratory" to get a handle on how consumers use the Internet. It said that most online users accessed the website to see events that they had missed on the air or to see a repeat. The Times article appeared critical of the network's decision to delay many of the events, saying that it "put the network at odds with the spirit of the Internet which rewards speed and rejects scarcity." On the other hand Yahoo! often put events on its websites before they appeared on NBC's telecasts. As a result, the newspaper observed, Yahoo! drew an average of 4.7 million unique visitors a day through Aug. 18 versus 4.3 million for NBC, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Brian B.