NO SALE AT NETWORK UPFRONTS SO FAR

Advertisers are balking at price increases being demanded by the broadcast networks this season and may "sit out" the upfront marketplace this year, Advertising Age observed Wednesday, noting that while in previous years 80 percent of the networks' ad inventory would have been sold by now, "buyers and networks remain at an impasse over price." The trade publication observed that ad buyers might very well elect to make most of their buys during the so-called "scatter market" season, when spots are purchased weeks, or sometimes even days, before the ads are broadcast. Likewise, today's (Thursday) Los Angeles Times noted: "A month after unveiling their new fall shows as bait, the networks still haven't hooked any big-fish advertisers." While the networks have increased their prices, ad buyers are saying that their clients have reduced their advertising budgets and are demanding that the networks concomitantly reduce their rates. "There has been a lot of talk between the agencies and the networks on what the market should be," Carat ad buyer Andrew Donchin told the Times. But another unnamed ad-buying exec told AdAge, "There is such a huge gap between what some of the sellers are posturing and what the real expectations are of clients that I feel like we're not going to go anywhere fast."

TV-INTERNET CONVERGENCE COMING FASTER THAN EXPECTED

By 2011, just a year and a half from now, 100 million households worldwide will have a television set connected to the Internet, according to market researchers The Diffusion Group. A fifth of these sets, it forecast, will be linked to the Web via game consoles. The study was released at the same time that TiVo had signed a deal with CBS-owned TV.com that will allow users to download TV shows that are available via streaming on the website. Home Media Retail magazine, which reported the deal, observed that it was "unique" given the fact that both companies are essentially in the video-on-demand business. At the same time, Sherwood, the audio receiver maker, announced that it had signed a deal with Verismo Networks to include Verismo's technology in its receivers, thereby bringing online video content to Sherwood owners. In a statement Sherwood said that the deal gives "consumers the ability to watch millions of Internet videos directly on their TV."

REPORTERS BEING TOSSED OUT OF IRAN

Foreign journalists who arrived in Iran last week to report on that country's election are being forced to leave the country after authorities refused to renew their one-week visas, the New York Times reported today (Thursday). Steve Capus, president of NBC News, told the Times that "it is enormously difficult right now" for the network to cover the continuing demonstrations in the country. Loren Jenkins, senior foreign editor for NPR, noted that the visa for the public radio network's correspondent had expired on Wednesday. "I think they want everyone [journalists] out of there so they can crack down," he said. The BBC, however, maintains a permanent correspondent in Tehran. However, his reports have included strong criticism of the elections by Ahmadinejad's opponents, and some suspect that his visa may be withdrawn. Like other journalists, he has not been permitted to cover the recent anti-government demonstrations. In an email message, Jim Sciutto of ABC News said that until Tuesday, he had taken "the risk of filming on our cellphones. But now the message seems to be 'don't even think about it.'" Nevertheless, "citizen journalists" are uploading video of the demonstrations -- and the crackdown -- onto Twitter and other Internet sites, leading former CBS anchor Dan Rather to echo a remark that he said, "seems to be cropping up everywhere:" "The revolution may not be televised, but it very well could be Twittered."

ABC REJECTS CONSERVATIVE AD CRITIZING OBAMA'S HEALTH CARE PACKAGE

An advertisement by a group called Conservatives for Patients Rights opposing President Obama's health-care plan and proposing an alternative plan was rejected by ABC prior to next Wednesday night's "Town Hall" telecast on health care, featuring the president. "The American people deserve a healthy, robust debate on this issue and ABC's decision--as of now--to exclude even paid advertisements that present an alternative view does a disservice to the public," Rick Scott, chairman of CPR, said in a statement. But CNSNews.com, a unit of the conservative Media Research Center, quoted an ABC spokesperson as saying that the network "has a long-standing policy that we do not accept advocacy advertising. It's just something that has been in place forever." In advance of the telecast, Republicans have been calling it "a glorified infomercial." But ABC maintains that numerous critics of the president's plan will be able to offer their own opinions and question the president about his during the telecast. "We're going to be producing a fair and open and honest debate about health care, which is vitally important to the country" ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider told FoxNews.com. "The point of the debate is to hear from all sides."

GIBSON'S AUDIENCE DISAPPEARS, THEN REAPPEARS

On Friday, the day of the transition from analog to digital television, Nielsen reported that some 2.5 million people were still "completely unprepared" for the switchover. But, to read Nielsen's ratings for the network evening newscasts for that day, one might have concluded that all of them regularly watched ABC World News With Charles Gibson. The ratings indicated that the ABC newscast drew just 4.09 million viewers, the worst in the network's modern history. ABC protested, demanding in effect, a recount, and on Wednesday Nielsen issued revised data which pushed up the number of viewers to 6.34 million. Nielsen blamed unspecified problems related to the transition.

EMMYS JUST KEEP JUMPING

After moving this year's Emmy Awards telecast from September 20 to September 13 in order to avoid any possible conflict with an NFL doubleheader on the later date, CBS has moved it back to September 20 again, this time because it would conflict with the MTV Video Music Awards. "It's best for the industry and the audience that these events not compete against each other," Jack Sussman, head of CBS Entertainment specials, said in a statement.

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