SHUNNED BY TV, WHISTLEBLOWER TURNS TO YOUTUBE
A former engineer for Lockheed Martin who has accused his former employer of selling the U.S. Coast Guard $24 billion worth of patrol boats with security and other flaws said that he contacted every major television outlet and numerous newspapers before posting his accusations on YouTube.com, where they were finally picked up by the Navy Times and later by the Washington Post and other news media. MediaPost's online MediaDailyNews commented Wednesday that the video, created by 41-year-old Michael De Kort, is "the latest example of new media driving the old." However, Michael Silverman, managing editor for the Associated Press in New York, maintained that it had been trying to get documentation from the government concerning the whistleblower's claims, "and we haven't yet." And Washington & Lee University journalism professor Edward Wasserman observed, "It's his story, his side of things. A journalist would take his claims and talk to other people to reach the truth."
CBS TO AIR CONTROVERSIAL 9/11 FILM WITHOUT ADS
CBS said Wednesday that when it rebroadcasts its Emmy- and Peabody-winning documentary about the 9/11 attacks on Sept. 10, it will air without commercials. When it originally aired six months after the attacks, there were three breaks, used for public-service announcements and fundraising appeals. The network said that the time will be used instead for updates and for interviews with some of the firefighters who appeared in the original piece. The documentary is facing the wrath of the American Family Association, which charges that it "contains a tremendous amount of hardcore profanity." The decision of the network to air it, the AFA said, "is a slap in the face to the FCC and Congress, which recently raised indecency fines to $325,000 per incident." The group charged that CBS was using it as "a test case ... to see how far they can go. If there is no outpouring of complaints from the public, they will go further the next time." It has asked its "3,054,720 supporters" to write to the FCC demanding that the indecency law be enforced and has warned that it will file a formal complaint against CBS and each of its affiliates if the broadcast goes ahead as planned.
ADVERTISERS WITHHOLDING BUYS FROM MYNETWORKTV
News Corp has been able to attract less than half the $50 million in upfront ad sales that it expected for next Tuesday's launch of MyNetworkTV, its English-language "telenovela" (limited-run soap opera) network, the Los Angeles Times reported today (Thursday), citing two unnamed company executives. One media buyer told the newspaper that she is standing on the sidelines, waiting to see whether the network is able to attract an audience. Laura Caraccioli-Davis, director of Starcom Entertainment, said, "Everyone is curious to see how this will play out. ... It defies all of the conventions that make network television work." Only two shows will air on the network, Desire and Fashion House. Each will run five nights a week for 13 weeks and will then be replaced by two new shows. "A lot is riding on these first two shows," Shari Anne Brill, of the ad-buying firm Carat told the Times. "The next three months will be crucial."
COURIC TO MAKE FIRST APPEARANCE ON CBS NEWSCAST TONIGHT
In a kind of unofficial passing-of-the-baton, Katie Couric is expected to appear for the first time tonight (Thursday) on the CBS Evening News to pay her respects to Bob Schieffer as he winds up his stint as interim anchor. "I don't have a baton," Schieffer told today's Philadelphia Inquirer, "but I'm sure we'll exchange pleasantries." Couric takes over the anchor's desk on Tuesday, following the Labor Day holiday. During an interview with the Associated Press, Schieffer -- the only anchor to see ratings of his newscast rise during the past year (they nevertheless remain behind NBC and ABC) -- said, "I'm really proud of what we've accomplished. ... We were in a very hard place, and I do believe that we've got the train back up on the tracks and running in the right direction."
TELCOS GET BOOST FROM NEW CALIFORNIA LAW
In what was regarded as a major victory for telephone companies attempting to vie with cable companies to provide television service to households, the California state Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a measure that would put oversight of pay television in the hands of the state rather than local governments. In a statement, Kenneth P. McNeely, Western region president of AT&T, said, "Today's Senate vote reaffirms that both Democrats and Republicans alike support the benefits of video competition -- consumer cost savings, private investment in the state's broadband infrastructure and thousands of new jobs for California." Seven other states have taken similar action.
MOBILE ESPN TO OFFER COLLEGE FOOTBALL ON CELL PHONES
The Walt Disney Company's Mobile ESPN network plans to offer subscribers up to 25 college football games per month beginning Sept. 4 as part of its $25-per-month Total Sports Package. The Disney Co. has acknowledged that Mobile ESPN has thus far produced disappointing sales, and it is unclear whether the college sports package will reverse the startup's fortunes, especially given the difficulty of following the trajectory of a football on a cell-phone screen.
CBS SAYS IT WON'T DOCTOR PHOTOS OF CBS NEWS STARS AGAIN
After initially reacting lightheartedly to the revelation by the TVNewser website that a photo of Katie Couric appearing in the CBS publication Watch had been doctored to make her appear thinner, CBS spokesman Gil Schwartz seemed to regard the matter more seriously on Wednesday. Schwartz, who is listed as the editor-in-chief of Watch, said "I talked to my photo department, we had a discussion about it. I think photo understands this is not something we'd do in the future." Couric had initially reacted to the photo by remarking, "I liked the first picture better because there's more of me to love." CBS News President Sean McManus said that he was "surprised and disappointed" when he learned about the photo doctoring, then added, "But having time to consider, I've asked that 3 inches in height be added to my official CBS photo."