AFTRA PROTESTS PENTAGON PROFILES OF REPORTERS
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists has added its voice to those of other groups who have blasted the Pentagon's reported decision to hire the Washington PR firm The Rendon Group to vet journalists seeking to be embedded with U.S. forces in Afghanistan. "If the military pre-approves only certain journalists to report a specific point-of-view or agenda, our decisions cannot be made independently or freely and that threatens our democracy. I am deeply disturbed by this assault on quality broadcast journalism and on our freedom," said AFTRA President Roberta Reardon in a statement. Reports about the vetting procedure appeared first in the Army newspaper Stars and Stripes and were quickly denied by the Pentagon. But, in a follow-up article appearing today (Thursday), the newspaper published excerpts of the Rendon Group's ratings of several journalists, including one in which a reporter was deemed to be 83.33 percent neutral and 16.67 percent negative "in relation to the military's mission objectives." In another case the PR group wrote that negative reports by one reporter "could possibly be neutralized" by feeding him quotes from military officials. One profile begins with the words "The purpose of this memo is to provide an assessment of [name of reporter] ... in order to gauge the expected sentiment of his work while on an embed mission in Afghanistan."
TIVO TAKES ON TWO NEW GIANTS
Fresh from winning its patent-infringement victory against the DISH home-satellite network, TiVo on Wednesday filed complaints against AT&T and Verizon claiming that their digital video recorders infringed on three of TiVo's patents. The complaints are essentially identical to the one TiVo filed against DISH. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, TiVo chief Tom Rogers said TiVo tried to strike licensing deals with both companies. "We always prefer a commercial relationship to litigation," Rogers told the newspaper. "We figured we had to stop the irreparable harm." TiVo has licensing deals in place with Comcast, the leading cable-TV provider, and DirecTV, the nation's leading satellite provider. Meanwhile, TiVo reported a smaller-than-expected loss of $2.9 million for its second quarter.
SONY FINALLY REPORTS SOME GOOD NEWS
Sony, which has been struggling against the recession in general and the rising yen and lower consumer spending in particular, finally had some positive sales figures to report today (Thursday) -- at least in Japan. The company said that sales of its Bravia TV sets were up 30 percent in July from the same month a year ago, primarily as a direct result of government incentives to spur purchases of energy-saving home appliances. "Since the start of the eco-point program in May, television sales have been extremely positive," Nobuki Kurita, president of Sony's marketing unit in Japan, told Bloomberg News.
COSTAS TO MOVE OUT OF THE STUDIO AND ONTO THE FIELD
Hoping to raise viewer interest in its Sunday night Football Night in America pregame show, NBC is taking Bob Costas out of the studio and putting him at the site of the actual games. In an interview with Newsday, Costas suggested that the move was his idea. "I just think it's a better use of me at this point to have me at the scene of an event," he said. In a separate interview with the Los Angeles Times, he added, "Hosting from the site of the game, being in the stadium surrounded by the fans and the energy and atmosphere of the event, creates an urgency and a sense of place that can't be duplicated in the studio." His colleagues, Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, will remain at NBC's studios at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York.
U.K.'S CHANNEL 4 TO USE BIG BROTHER MONEY FOR DRAMAS
Britain's Channel 4, which announced on Wednesday that it plans to shut down its long-running reality series Big Brother at the end of next season said that it will use the $75 million thus saved to develop new drama series, sitcoms, and TV movies. Director of content at Channel 4, Kevin Lygo, said that in particular it hopes to use $20 million for live TV dramas, but told www/bisinessinsider.com that he expected many of them to be "more quirky" than those the network has presented previously. "This is a fresh opportunity to reach out to audiences underserved by drama on the more mainstream channels," he said.
IMUS PARTS COMPANY WITH RFD
Don Imus will no longer continue simulcasting his nationally syndicated radio show on the RFD cable network after tomorrow (Friday), he said Wednesday. The announcement comes amid reports that he is about to close a deal to take his daily talk show to the Fox Business Network. In a statement, RFD founder Patrick Gottsch said that Imus had "contributed immensely to the unprecedented growth experienced by RFD-TV over the past two years." RFD picked up Imus's program after he was dropped by MSNBC for a controversial racial/sexist quip about the Rutgers women's basketball team. In his own statement, Imus said, "I will always appreciate the support of Patrick and RFD-TV in launching the new 'Imus in the Morning' program."