LOOK WHO'S WATCHING
Viewers who watch TV programs on their computers, video iPods and the like also watch more primetime programs on their TV sets than the average viewers, according to a study by CBS research chief David Poltrack. Poltrack says his studies indicate that digital media presentations often sharpen the desire of people to see the programs on their bigger screens. The studies also found that 56 percent of the TV audience with broadband connections at home are aware that some network programs can be watched on their computers and that 46 percent of them had already viewed at least one program. Details of the study are expected to be released at next week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
CELINE TO END FIVE YEARS IN VEGAS WITH A TV SPECIAL
Celine Dion plans to conclude her five-year stint at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas by taping her show, "A New Day," for a television special and DVD, the producers of the show said Thursday. They did not indicate which network would air the special. According to a news release from the hotel, Dion's last performance will take place on December 15, but she'll return to the Colosseum, a $95-million theater built for her production, in January to tape the special.
JUDGE TELLS SIMPSON NOT TO SPEND HIS ADVANCE; SIMPSON SAYS HE DID
In what may well turn out to be another case of closing the barn door too late, a federal judge in Los Angeles has frozen the advance fee O.J. Simpson was paid for his book If I Did It and the television interview about it -- both of which were canceled. Simpson has previously said that he has already spent the money. U.S. District Judge Manuel Real forbade Simpson from spending the advance until after a January 24 hearing on a lawsuit brought by Fred Goldman, the father of Ron Goldman, who was allegedly murdered by Simpson when he attempted to come to the aid of Simpson's former wife Nicole, who was also killed.
WICHITA TV STATION FACES PENALTY AFTER F-WORD IS AIRED
The sports director of a Wichita, KS TV station, believing his microphone was off, shouted an obscenity on the air Thursday and will face "appropriate disciplinary action," the news director said following the incident. According to the Wichita Eagle, KSN-TV sports director Jim Kobbe had become frustrated with technical problems during the 6:00 p.m. newscast and shouted the F-word at a technical director as a pre-recorded feature was being played on the air. News Director Todd Spessard told the Eagle, "It was obviously an honest mistake, but it doesn't excuse it." KSN aired an apology at the beginning of its 10:00 p.m. newscast. In June, President Bush signed a bill that increased to $325,000 the fine that the FCC may impose on any station that broadcasts an indecent remark before 10:00 p.m.
SAN FRANCISCO ISP SHUTS DOWN WEBSITE AFTER DISNEY COMPLAINT
An Internet service provider in San Francisco has shut down a website that posted recorded excerpts by right-wing talk-show hosts on ABC affiliate KSFO in which they endorsed torture of Iraqi prisoners, called for the hanging of New York Times editor Bill Keller and other journalists, and urged callers to mock Islam, according to MediaPost's online website, OnlineMediaDaily.com. The trade publication said that the ISP, 1&1 Internet, acted after receiving complaints from ABC Radio that the posted material violated the Walt Disney Company's copyright. However, the operator of the site, who goes by the online name "Spocko," insisted that the audio postings represented "fair use" and maintained that Disney had acted because KSFO advertisers whom he had contacted, including Netflix, MasterCard, Bank of America, and Visa, have already withdrawn advertising from the station. ABC and Disney declined to comment.
NEW YORK TIMES SELLS ITS TV STATIONS
The New York Times, never a big presence in TV broadcasting like its rivals the Tribune Corp. and News Corp, has agreed to sell its nine TV stations to Oak Hill Capital Partners, a private equity firm, for $575 million. The stations are all located in small- to medium-market cities. In a statement on Thursday, Janet L. Robinson, president and CEO of the Times Company, said, "Our focus now should be on the development of our newspapers and our rapidly growing digital businesses and the increasing synergies between them."
CANADIAN SUES AMERICA'S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS
A Canadian man who lost out for the grand prize on America's Funniest Home Videos is suing the producers because Canadians were not permitted to vote for the winner. In the video, Jim Nowlan, dressed as Santa Claus, is seen waking his granddaughter in the middle of the night. Her reaction, Nowlan told the Canadian Press, was "priceless." The video brought Nowlan $10,000 when it was originally shown on the program, and he was flown back to California from his home in Moncton, NB for the finale. In his lawsuit, Nowlan alleges that the show "arbitrarily [does] not allow the friends and neighbors of Canadian contestants [to] vote for them. But if you are an American citizen you can be voted for by your friends, neighbors and townsmen. This is discriminative behavior toward Canadian contestants."
GERALDO'S SHOW SHUT DOWN
Geraldo at Large will no longer be -- at large,that is -- following its cancellation by Fox. The syndicated newsmagazine was yanked Thursday because of low ratings in most markets where it was aired. It scored strongly in New York, however. Only two days earlier, the TVNewser website noted that Geraldo at Large drew nearly five times more viewers than the competing CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. But Broadcasting and Cable magazine on Thursday estimated that the production budget was between $500,000 and $1 million a week and that its overall 1.6 season-to-date rating could not justify such a huge expense.
U.K. REGULATOR TO PROBE SADDAM TAPE BROADCAST
OFCOM, the British communications regulator, said that it will investigate the BBC's decision to air the cell-phone video showing the execution of Saddam Hussein. OFCOM disclosed that it had received 30 complaints. The regulator said that it will examine whether the broadcast complies with provisions of the code regarding taste, decency, fairness and privacy. The London Financial Times quoted one unnamed broadcaster as saying, "These are all available over the Internet. If you stopped showing items are you accused of censoring?" But one writer posted a message on the BBC's website calling the footage, "the world's first public snuff video."