EX-CNN CHIEF TO FLY PRO-WAR BLOGGERS TO IRAQ
Former CNN news chief Eason Jordan has invited conservative bloggers Michelle Malkin and Curt (who does not disclose his surname) of FloppingAces.com, to fly to Iraq at Jordan's expense to investigate a controversial Associated Press report claiming that Shiite militiamen burned alive six Sunnis as they left worship services last month. U.S. military officials denied the story as well as the existence of the A.P.'s primary source for it, identified in the report as Police Capt. Jamil Hussein. Malkin and Curt are among numerous conservative bloggers who have accused the A.P. in particular and the news media in general of disseminating enemy propaganda about the war. On Wednesday Jordan, who himself was forced to quit CNN after he publicly accused the military of targeting journalists covering the conflict (he later said that his remarks were misinterpreted), announced that he was creating a website, IraqSlogger.com that would attempt to present non-partisan information about the conflict, primarily from the viewpoint of ordinary Iraqis. Malkin and Curt have accepted the invitation. On Thursday, First Lady Laura Bush joined the criticism of media coverage of the war when she said during an interview on MSNBC that "the drum beat in the country from the media [about the war] ... is discouraging." She added, "I understand why the polls are what they are because of the coverage we see every day in Iraq."
NBC REVAMPS CHRISTMAS LINEUP
Instead of traditional -- and often expensive -- Christmas variety specials or movies, NBC plans to air episodes of its hit game shows Deal or No Deal, hosted by Howie Mandel,and 1 vs. 100, hosted by Bob Saget,on Christmas day, the network announced Thursday. (Both shows are produced by the U.S. subsidiary of Netherlands-based Endemol.) The network indicated that both shows will have Christmas themes and that the prizes awarded home viewers will be increased for this day only -- with the top prize on Deal being set at $100,000 and on 100 at $25,000.
CUBAN TO PROMOTE HDNET FILMS ON DELL COMPUTERS
Buy a computer; get a free movie in high-definition -- that could be slogan for Dell Computer, which will bundle movies that have aired on Mark Cuban's HDNet on new Dell computers sold in the U.S. Under a deal announced Thursday, HDNet's Shuttle Discovery's Historic Mission, produced last year, will be packaged with Dell's XPS M1710 computer. The computer is intended to be the center of a home entertainment system. In a statement, Cuban said, "Our combination of great programming, captured and displayed at only the highest quality, is a win-win opportunity for HDNet, Dell and consumers who want the very best high-definition home viewing experience."
KATIE WAS TIVO'S BIGGEST HIT
Katie Couric's last day on NBC's Today show was the most Tivo'd broadcast of 2006, the digital video recorder company said Thursday. TiVo issued a list of the top-ten moments of the year, which also included: 2: Mel Gibson's interview with Good Morning America's Diane Sawyer about his DWI arrest; 3 Oprah's humiliation of writer James Frey, in which she accused him of betraying readers; 4. The characters Sara and Grissom becoming "a couple" on CSI; 5. Faith Hill's reaction to Carrie Underwood's win at the CMA Awards. In a statement, TiVo commented, "This is one of the many reasons why TiVo DVRs are a must-have for TV viewers and sports fans across the country, who can count on never missing those key moments or the big plays."
CBS BLOG QUESTIONS COURIC'S EDITORIAL DECISION
Criticism of Katie Couric's decision to lead off Wednesday's edition of the CBS Evening News with a feature about holiday shopping while her principal rivals were leading with a report about Sen. Tim Johnson's apparent stroke was picked up Thursday by CBS News's own blog, Public Eye. Brian Montopoli quoted Rachel Sklar, who writes the "Eat the Press" column for Arianna Huffington's The Huffington Post liberal blog, in which she noted that Johnson's death or resignation could result in the Republicans retaining leadership of the Senate. She then remarked that the decision by Couric, as managing editor of the news program, to lead with the shopping story and other such editorial decisions "are causing people to criticize the broadcast, or simply to leave." Montopoli said that he had asked the show's executive producer, Rome Hartman, to comment on the criticism but that he refused. Montopoli then concluded, "It's difficult to come down too hard on the Evening News for making a decision that differentiated it from its competitors. ... That said, I agree with Sklar that Johnson is a big story, and one can certainly argue that it deserved top billing."
CBS RECORDS COMES ALIVE
CBS announced Thursday that it plans to revive CBS Records as a new music label. It said it will use the label to release music by artists appearing on its broadcast and cable networks. However, it indicated that the recordings will be distributed, at least initially, only online via its own website and Apple's iTunes Music Store. In a statement, CBS chief Les Moonves said, "With more consumers choosing the online download model as the preferred way to purchase their favorite songs, we have an opportunity to use our unique and broad collection of media platforms to create a new music label paradigm for a small price of admission." Throughout most of its 60-year history, CBS Records was known in North America as Columbia Records,and its stars once included Frank Sinatra, Billy Holiday, Tony Bennett, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Aerosmith. It also released numerous original audio documentaries, including Edward R. Murrow's classic I Can Hear It Now albums, a kind of audio history of America during its first half century. In 1988, the company was sold to Sony, which subsequently released CBS Records' artists on its own record label.
MEDIA MOGUL SABAN SELLS GERMAN BROADCASTER FOR $4 BILLION
After orchestrating what analysts called a remarkable turnaround for the company, media mogul Haim Saban is selling ProSiebenSat, Germany's biggest broadcaster, to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Permira for $4 billion, Saban announced Thursday. The buyers are expected to merge the company with the giant SBS Broadcasting Group, a Luxembourg-based broadcaster, which they already control.