LIVE FROM IRAN'S PRESIDENTIAL COMPOUND: THE NEWS

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams interviewed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the Today show Monday, suggesting up front that the telecast may have been as newsworthy as any remarks by the Iranian leader. "We're broadcasting from the grounds of the presidential compound in Tehran via an American television network on live television. That's never happened before," Williams said. In the interview Ahmadinejad insisted once more that Iran was not attempting to manufacture an atomic bomb, then added, "Nuclear weapons are so 20th century." (Some critics of the Iraq war have suggested that Iran, Iraq's neighbor, has been the real "winner" of the war, with the installation of a friendly Shiite government ending decades of conflict with the Sunni regime of Saddam Hussein.)

COURIC TO HEAD CBS CONVENTION TEAM

For the first time, a network's coverage of the political parties' presidential nominating conventions will be headed by a woman. Katie Couric was named by CBS Monday to head the studio team covering the Democratic convention, which begins on August 26, and the Republican, which begins on Sept. 2. Other members of the studio team will include Bob Schieffer, who preceded Couric at the Evening News's anchor desk, and political correspondent Jeff Greenfield.

FEW TUNE IN TO FOX NEWS NETWORK

You could fit all the people in America who are watching Fox News Network into a single basketball stadium, according to Nielsen figures reported by the Washington Post today (Tuesday). The figures, which were not publicly released, show FBN averaging just 8,000 viewers during the day and 15,000 at night. "It's a slow-growing business, but it is a growing business," Executive Vice President Kevin Magee told the newspaper. "I don't think anybody here expected us to be on top by the first summer, and we're not."

SMOG CLOUDS LENSES OF TV CREWS IN BEIJING

Television reports showing thick smog in Beijing just days before the scheduled opening of the summer Olympics have sparked responses from Chinese officials assuring the public in general and athletes in particular that the air pollution poses no risk. Du Shaozhong, deputy director of Beijing's Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau, told a Daily Variety reporter that the television reports were misleading. "A blue sky doesn't mean the air quality is good," he said. "If you take a shower, you can't see clearly because of the steam, but it doesn't mean it's pollution."

ANOTHER CANADIAN SERIES COMING TO THE U.S.

Giving Hollywood labor unions further pause, a second Canadian-produced TV series has been set to air on a major U.S. network. 18 to Life, produced by Montreal's Galafilm, is due to air next season on ABC (as well as Canada's CBC). Although U.S. and Canadian companies have teamed up on dramatic series in the past, this reportedly marks the first time that they have collaborated on a sitcom. In a statement, Kirstine Layfield, CBC's executive director of network programming, said, "It's a great tribute to all the talented Canadian writers, actors and producers that we are now making television series that are being sold to U.S. and international broadcasts and watched by audiences around the globe." 18 to Life was preceded by Flashpoint, which CBS bought during the writers' strike. Another drama, The Listener, is due to air on NBC.

MIAMI TV STATION PURCHASED AT FIRE-SALE PRICE

The NBC-owned television station in Miami has been sold to Post-Newsweek Stations for only $205 million, Broadcasting & Cable reported today (Tuesday), citing a Federal Communications Commission disclosure. The trade publication had originally quoted sources as saying that the station, WTVJ, had sold for $350 million. Reflecting the network's own decline, the station is currently ranked sixth in the Miami market.

Brian B.