SAWYER TO REMAIN ON GMA AT LEAST UNTIL SUMMER
Diane Sawyer has reassured ABC News executives that she plans to remain as cohost of Good Morning America until at least early summer, the New York Times reported today (Wednesday), citing one executive briefed directly on Sawyer's status. The newspaper's source said that Sawyer gave her reassurance to ABC News President David Westin during a meeting before Christmas and that she also met with Disney CEO Robert Iger. (Disney is the owner of ABC.) There had been considerable speculation that Sawyer was planning to quit the show following the departure of Charles Gibson to anchor the network's evening newscast, World News.
BCS GAMES SCORE WITH ROSE BOWL, LOSE WITH ORANGE BOWL
While ratings for the Rose Bowl Game on ABC New Year's Day were absolutely rosy, with a 14.5 rating and a 24 share, another BCS game Tuesday proved to be a different color in more ways than one. The Orange Bowl game between Louisville and Wake Forest never made it above second place any time during the night, starting off with a third-place 5.9 rating and a 9 share at 8:00 p.m., then moving up to a 7.0/11 at 9:00 p.m., then dropping to a 6.3/11 at 10:00 p.m.
CELL-PHONE VIDEO OF SADDAM EXECUTION RESULTS IN ARREST
In what could very well turn out to be a case of shooting the messenger -- or something close to it -- a security guard who used his cell phone to produce the video of the execution of Saddam Hussein that was broadcast throughout the world has been arrested by Iraqi authorities. The Washington Post, which reported the arrest, identified its source as Sadiq al-Rikabi, the political adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who told the newspaper that the release of the footage was "not something proper or acceptable. ... We needed just a small piece [of footage] about the execution, just to show the people this is Saddam." On Tuesday, former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw, appearing on the Don Imus program, observed that until the execution, Saddam had "disappeared, in effect, as some kind of a symbol over there." But the video, Brokaw said, changed all that. "He's able to stand up there with the hood off and invoke prayer and even invoke the Palestinians, and go out in the eyes of his people at least as a martyr." Brokaw agreed with Imus's comment that it is "difficult to imagine how this could have turned out worse." Meanwhile, CBS on Tuesday defended its decision not to show the actual execution either on the air or on its website. "Consumers are starting to realize that what television standards may deny them, the Internet readily provides," the CBS News blog Public Eye acknowledged Tuesday. Asked about the availability of the execution video at other websites, CNSNews.com Senior Producer Dan Collins replied, "Anyone with a mouse can get to pornography, too, but we're not going to show that, either."
WHERE IS A.P.'S BAGHDAD SOURCE?
More than a month after U.S. military officials denied a widely broadcast and published A.P. report that described how a group of Shiite militiamen grabbed six Sunni worshipers as they left a Baghdad mosque and burned them alive as Iraqi soldiers stood by, the A.P continues to refuse to provide further details about the source of its story. Originally, the wire service said that the source was an Iraqi police captain named Jamail Hussein, who, it said, had been the source of more than 60 stories during 2006. But military officials have maintained that there is no record of the existence of the police captain, and the New York Times has reported that it was unable to find anyone who could corroborate the reported incident. A spokeswoman for the A.P. told Editor & Publisher Tuesday that it stands by its story and that "it would be highly unusual for any news organization to provide sources on the demands of critics." But Paul McLeary, who has reported from Iraq for the Columbia Journalism Review, observed Tuesday that this is an unusual case, and that the A.P must produce the source that it has already named "or provide documentation that he exists, or tell us why no one can find a record of his employment by the Iraqi police." McLeary commented in conclusion: "The A.P. is hurting itself every day it refuses to acknowledge its critics."
FOX BUSINESS CHANNEL CLOSER TO REALITY
Time Warner Cable, the nation's second-largest cable company behind Comcast, said Tuesday that it has agreed to carry the new Fox business channel in the New York market when the channel launches, Broadcasting & Cable reported Tuesday. News Corp has said that it plans to launch the news channel when it has deals with cable companies that would allow it to reach a potential audience of 30 million. The Time Warner cable deal would bring it 13 million viewers. News Corp has already reached a deal with Comcast, which has 24 million subscribers.
CHEESE ADS BANNED FROM U.K. SHOWS FOR KIDS
Kids won't be able to smile and say "cheese" in front of the TV cameras in Britain anymore under the latest advertising rules adopted for children's television. Cheese is among the products listed as junk food by the Food Standards Agency, which has cited its high fat content -- some 900 calories from fat in a typical serving, according to the agency. But the British Cheese Board and the National Farmers' Union have expressed outrage over the ruling. The Cheese Board said that a typical portion of cheese contains 270-360 calories and is actually one of the most "nutritionally complete" foods. Interviewed by the BBC, Mary Quicke, a Devon cheesemaker, summed up her reaction to the regulation: "Frankly, it's bonkers," she said.