NBC HELPS GE BRING GOOD THINGS TO LIFE

Although some analysts and investors groups have been urging General Electric to sell NBC Universal, noting that it makes a poor fit with the company's primary businesses, John Rice, president and CEO of GE's infrastructure division, has told Forbes magazine that the entertainment unit can open doors that would otherwise be shut to company executives. A particular case in point, Rice told the magazine, is China where the network's Olympics coverage has given GE an opportunity to expand its relationship with Chinese officials and build power plants, water-treatment facilities, rail projects, airplane engines, and other infrastructure projects. Indeed, Forbes indicated, GE's deals in China since NBC's Olympics staff set up shop there are worth more than the $1 billion in revenue that the company figures the Olympics are worth. Forbes says that GE anticipates that as a result of the NBC Olympics telecasts overall sales to China will rise to $10 billion by 2010.

E.T. LIKELY TO REPORT JOLIE BIRTHS TWICE IN A MONTH

One month after reporting exclusively that Angelina Jolie had given birth to twins, Entertainment Tonight has yet to acknowledge that it was the victim of a hoax by a person posing as the actress's assistant, the New York Times observed today. The newspaper, citing no sources, said that at one point the show's producers considered addressing the matter on the air but decided not to. "The story became a black eye for ET," the Times observed. Since the original report aired, it said, ET has been avoiding any mention of Jolie but on Tuesday did note that she had checked into a maternity clinic in France without mentioning the earlier report that she had already given birth.

QUALITY PRODUCES HIGHER LOCAL NEWS RATINGS, SAYS STUDY

Challenging the local news mantra that "if it bleeds, it leads," a new study examining 34,000 news stories broadcast by 154 stations in 50 markets has concluded that content and presentation is far more important in corralling an audience than sensationalistic tabloid fare. In the study, "The Local News Story: Is Quality a Choice?" political science professors Todd L. Belt and Marion Just demonstrate that newscasts that posted high scores on quality garnered higher ratings than those that focused on criminal acts and celebrity items. The study also found that it was important to combine quality content with a quality presentation. "How you tell the stories is important," Belts said.

FOX ALTERS PHOTOS OF NY TIMES WRITERS

The decision by Fox News Channel to alter and distort the facial features of two New York Times reporters in a photo aired on Fox & Friends on Wednesday was "beneath comment," Times culture editor Sam Sifton told Editor & Publisher Wednesday. Fox aired the photographs of Times reporter Jacques Steinberg and TV editor Steven Reddicliffe as Fox & Friends personalities Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade referred to what they called "a hit piece" by the writers that noted that ratings for the all-news cable network were exhibiting an "ominous trend." Sifton, however, told E&P: "It was straight news. This was a hit piece by Fox News."

CHILD-WELFARE GROUPS SPANK NBC FOR BABY BORROWERS

At least two child-welfare groups have criticized NBC's reality show The Baby Borrowers, which is intended to give teenage couples a taste of what it is like to be parents of babies and toddlers. The group Zero to Three charged that the program "exploits young children with potential harmful consequences." And the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry warned that the show could put children under stress if their natural parents are not present. "A child's sense of security should not be gambled with," the AACAP said. Responding to the criticism, NBC said, "The producers of The Baby Borrowers took all the necessary precautions to ensure the safety and welfare of the children participating in the series."

HOWDY DOODY TO RETURN -- ON DVD

Howdy Doody, the freckle-faced marionette who fronted one of the first network children's programs on TV beginning in 1947, is coming to DVD. Mill Creek Entertainment said Wednesday that it has signed a deal with NBC to release 40 episodes of The Howdy Doody Show in a five-disc boxed set on Nov. 4. Details were sketchy. Although the show was one of the first to be broadcast in color, it ended its run on NBC in 1960 when electronic video recording of color television broadcasts was in a primitive state.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.