MURDOCH OUTLINES TV PLANS FOR WSJ

Given the Wall Street Journal's contractual obligation to CNBC until 2012, it may be unlikely that the newspaper will be able to contribute much -- if any -- content to the Fox Business Network, due to launch in October. But Rupert Murdoch, who called the deal with CNBC an "obstacle," indicated that it might not prevent the Journal from bolstering News Corp's satellite operations overseas. In a conference call with reporters and analysts Wednesday, Murdoch suggested that the Wall Street Journal may provide reports for Sky News in the U.K., Sky Italia in Italy, and Star TV in Asia. Moreover, he noted the deal with CNBC covered only business news, freeing the Journal, and its corporate sibling, Dow Jones News Service, to provide nonbusiness news to is U.S. news outlets.

FOX NEWS REVAMPING THE FOX REPORT

Fox News anchor Shepard Smith has told TV Guide that his The Fox Report will begin presenting less trivia and more hard news. "We've already given up the 'coming up' teasing that we were known for," Smith said. "We did that because viewers said that's what they wanted. Viewers have said, 'Stop telling me for 45 seconds what you're going to do in the next four minutes.'" Although Smith insisted that he would not "make apologies for the way we've done it in the past," he said, "We're not going to do more crap. We're not going to do more titilating [stories], Hollywood movie reviews and jokes. ... There are other places that do that better than we do." Meanwhile, News Corp said Wednesday that Fox News Channel saw a 41-percent growth in operating income during its fourth quarter. In its SEC filing, News Corp said, "FNC's viewership was over 75% higher than its nearest competitor in primetime and nearly 60% higher on a 24-hour basis."

FBI IS GANGBUSTERS ABOUT NEW SERIES

Former ABC newsman John Miller, who currently is the assistant director of the FBI's Office of Public Affairs, and Imagine Entertainment's Brian Grazer have struck a deal that will see Imagine producing a series based on actual FBI cases, the Washington Post reported today (Thursday). Miller told the newspaper that while the FBI has often consulted with movie and TV producers about projects that they developed, "What we were seeking to do was reverse-engineer the process. ... We were looking for what in effect is a custom job." Miller said that he had met with other producers before connecting with Grazer. "They'd respond that they had this idea for a show about an FBI agent who can fly and 'Can you help us with that?'" The new series will be called, The FBI.

SOME POWER OUTAGE AS POWER OF 10 MOVES INTO NEW SLOT

CBS's new Drew Carey-hosted game show Power of 10, which attracted 9.23 million viewers (6.9 rating/12 share) when it was unveiled on Tuesday, moved into its regular Wednesday-night timeslot at 8:00, drawing 7.83 million (5.8/11), edging out Fox's So You Think You Can Dance, which drew 7.63 million (5.4/10). At 10:00 p.m. the back-by-popular-demand The Nine added up to its numbers as it drew a 1 rating and an 8 share, representing just 1.9 million viewers. Most younger viewers, however, tuned in to Dance, which out-powered Power handily in the 18-49-year-old demo.

NEW SCANDAL WRACKS BRITISH TV

British television, which has been accused by broadcast regulators of airing false and misleading contests and documentaries in recent months, has become embroiled in yet another controversy after police in West Midlands accused the Channel 4 network of twisting footage to make it appear that Saudi-trained clerics in England were drumming up support for terrorism. The footage, which aired on Channel 4's Dispatches program under the title "Undercover Mosque," had drawn protests from Britain's Muslim community, said to number 1.7 million. Reuters quoted prosecutors as saying that the footage had been "heavily edited" and that speeches were presented "out of context." Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Bethan David said in a statement, "The splicing together of extracts from longer speeches appears to have completely distorted what the speakers were saying." Channel 4 stood by the documentary.

PANASONIC TO BEGIN MAKING LCD TV SETS

Saying that it intends to take "a flexible stance in its TV business," Matsushita Electrice Industrial Co., which sells consumer electronics items in the U.S. under the Panasonic brand, announced today (Thursday) that it will begin manufacturing LCD TV sets. Until now, the company has manufactured only plasma models. Matsushita said that its first LCD high-definition edition, a 37-inch set retailing for about $2,500, will initially go on sale in Japan in September. It also plans to introduce a 42-inch and a 65-inch plasma model.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.