PLANS TO LAUNCH OLYMPICS NET OPPOSED BY IOC

A major row has developed between the U.S. Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee over Thursday's announcement by the U.S. group that it plans to launch a new cable channel devoted to Olympic sports, the Los Angeles Times reported today (Friday). The IOC said that such a move could jeopardize its deal with NBC, which bought rights to the Olympics through 2012 and holds a minority stake in the Universal Sports Channel, which also presents Olympic events. In a statement, the IOC said, "The proposed channel raises complex legal and contractual issues and could have a negative impact [on] our relationships with other Olympic broadcasters and sponsors, including our U.S. TV partner, NBC." While the IOC said it had known about the U.S. Olympic committee's plans, "we had assumed that we would have an opportunity to discuss unresolved questions together before the project movedׁ forward." The Times noted that the timing of the announcement comes just months before the IOC makes a decision on whether Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro of Tokyo will host the Olympics in 2016.

CONAN'S RATINGS CUT BY JACKSON COVERAGE

While the Michael Jackson coverage may have boosted ratings at a time when viewership normally falls to its lowest level of the year, it has negatively impacted NBC's Tonight show, the New York Times observed today (Friday). The newspaper noted that on Tuesday night, ABC's Nightline, which devoted its entire program to Jackson, including the Staples Center memorial earlier in the day, drew 4.8 million viewers, while the Tonight show pulled in 2.9 million. (CBS's Late Show with David Letterman attracted 3.9 million.) Nightline and Letterman remained well ahead of O'Brien on Wednesday night as well among total viewers, although O'Brien scored well with younger viewers, but then again he had the Wednesday edition of America's Got Talent bringing 11.7 million viewers to the network on that night.

SONY TV SETS TO COME WITH NETFLIX INSTALLED

Sony Bravia TV sets that can connect to the Internet will come with 12,000 free movies built in -- if their purchasers are subscribers to Netflix. The sets, which will be available beginning this fall, will also offer additional streaming programming from such other websites as Amazon Video on Demand, Demand Media, YouTube, and, of course, Sony Pictures. Netflix movies are also available via the $100 Netflix Player by Roku, several Internet-compatible Blu-ray Disc players, and the Xbox 360 game consoles. On-demand delivery of programs via the Internet is expected to pose a growing dilemma for cable operators who act as both Internet service providers and also as distributors for pay-TV cable channels that compete directly with them.

EMBARRASSING VIDEO OF CANADIAN PM YANKED FROM YOUTUBE

A video of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper disdaining to eat a communion wafer (and apparently pocketing it instead) at the funeral of former Governor General Roméo LeBlanc has been removed from YouTube even after "going viral" all over the rest of the Web. Several Canadian websites are expressing surprise at the so-called take-down, which came after a copyright claim by Radio Canada. One blogger observed that the video was produced by Cable Public Affairs Channel (CPAC), which presumably did not ask YouTube to remove it, and, given its newsworthiness, should have fallen under Canada's version of the fair-use doctrine.

ZUCKER SAYS ECONOMY HAS BOTTOMED OUT

NBC Universal Universal chief Jeff Zucker, whose company has been hit harder during the current economic recession than most other media conglomerates, said on CNBC Thursday that he sees some signs of economic improvement. Interviewed at the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, Zucker said, "It's still quite uncertain and we don't really see the full recovery we are all hoping for ... but I think we have seen a bottom." The first positive sign, he indicated, was an improvement in sales at NBC's owned TV stations. As for the network, which ranked last in primetime last season but has risen significantly this summer, now is the time for "getting your house in order." Amid widespread reports that none of the networks made much headway with advertisers during the upfront buying season, Zucker acknowledged that dealings with ad buyers "are much more difficult this year."

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