In a sign that even the most sought-after programming can find no safe haven during the current economic downturn, Advertising Ageis reporting that CBS is considering taking bids for spots on next year's Super Bowl. Citing people familiar with the negotiations, the trade publication said that instead of going to ad buyers with an average price for a spot, CBS sales staff is telling buyers that it will work with them to create ad packages around the event, then negotiate a price. "CBS, of course, will turn away any offer it deems as too low," AdAgecommented, "but the approach shows a surprising level of flexibility in Super Bowl ad-sales tactics."


The lengthy and brutal on-air feud between Keith Olbermann of MSNBC and Bill O'Reilly of Fox News Channel ended following a "summit meeting" for media CEOs in mid-May after Charlie Rose of PBS asked GE Chairman Jeffrey Immelt and News Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch about it, with each expressing disapproval, the New York Timesreported Sunday. Days later, the Timessaid, citing four sources with knowledge of the deal, their lieutenants arranged a cease-fire. "We all recognize that a certain level of civility needed to be introduced into the public discussion," GE spokesman Gary Sheffer told the newspaper. "We're happy that has happened." However, Keith Olbermann insisted, "I am party to no deal." And Fox News declined to comment.


In an out-with-the-old/in-with-the-old move, CBS is planning to replace its 72-year-old Guiding Light, which began on radio, with the old game show Let's Make a Deal,which went on the air 46 years ago and, after a 13-year run has been revived numerous times. The latest revival will be hosted by Wayne Brady. Reports about the switch note that CBS is spurred by the same motivation that has caused it and other networks to replace scripted programing with reality shows during primetime: lower production costs. Appearing at the Television Critics Assn. summer press tour in Pasadena, original host Monty Hall said that he will act as a producer and consultant on the show and hand it over to Brady during the first episode. "It's not going to be much different," said Hall, who turns 88 later this month. "You don't tinker with a great format. It's the right horse -- it just needed a new jockey."


Netflix subscribers may now begin to watch the first five seasons of ABC's Lostfree as part of a deal announced today (Monday) between the online movie rental service and the TV network. Previous seasons of several additional ABC hit shows, including Desperate Housewivesand Grey's Anatomywill become available beginning next month via online streaming, Netflix said. The deal for the ABC programs extends one already in place between Netflix and Disney-ABC Television Group that mostly involves shows from the Disney Channel. In a statement, Robert Kynci, Netflix's head of content acquisition, said, "We're providing Netflix members with some of the most popular and avidly followed shows on TV while working with an important business partner to help grow several of its key franchises."


After being pointedly ignored by Emmy voters for the past four seasons -- to the consternation of many TV critics, who invariably praised it -- Battlestar Galacticareceived the top award from the Television Critics Association on Saturday. The series ended a four-year run on the Sci-Fi channel (now Syfy) in March. HBO won three other top awards: outstanding new program of the year for True Blood; outstanding achievement in movies, mini-series and specials for Grey Gardens; and outstanding achievement in news and information for The Alzheimer's Project.Other top awards went to AMC's Mad Men for outstanding achievement in drama, while CBS'sThe Big Bang Theory took the outstanding achievement in comedy award.


Contestants on some TV reality shows are required to live lives that are little better than those of jailed convicts, the New York Timesindicated in a lengthy article on Sunday. "Long workdays and communication blackouts are largely the rule for contestants on reality shows, a highly lucrative genre that has evolved arguably into Hollywood's sweatshop," the newspaper commented, noting that participants are not covered by TV union rules governing meal breaks, minimum time off between shoots -- and most receive little or no pay. The Timesinterviewed two dozen former contestants, many of whom complained that reality-show producers routinely used isolation, sleeplessness and alcohol to encourage wild behavior in front of the cameras.