PARIS INTERVIEWED; KING ASSAILED

In what appeared to be a verdict of guilt by association, TV newspaper columnists today (Thursday) chastised CNN in general and Larry King in particular for Wednesday night's interview with Paris Hilton. King, said Alessandra Stanley in the New York Times, appeared "attentive but not all that interested." The interviewer, said Tom Shales in the Washington Post, "seemed to be playing more a grandfatherly than journalistic role." Verne Gay in Newsday referred to King as the "master of the innocuous question, automaton inquisitor extraordinaire." Writing in the Hollywood Reporter, Barry Garron observed that Hilton's purpose was to rehabilitate her image. "Thanks to King's aversion to follow-up after even the most self-serving of Hilton's answers, Hilton accomplished much of what she set out to do." Hal Boedeker in the Orlando Sentinel remarked, "Maybe CNN could market that Paris Hilton interview as a sleep aid." CNN itself devoted hours of primetime to the interview, even covering Hilton's arrival at CNN's studios in Hollywood, then placing a small clock in the corner of the screen to count down the minutes to her appearance. The Huffington Post blog, saying it was "watching CNN with incredulity," asked, "How many 'The Most Trusted Name in News' jokes can you make before it just makes you sad?" Several bloggers posted previous comments from CNN chief Jonathan Klein about the news channel's commitment to airing essential information. "Audiences expect substance, and we deliver that in a way no one else does," Klein said last year. A year earlier he said that cable news has to stop "obsessing over this trivial stuff."

MURDOCH SAYS O'REILLY DOESN'T REPRESENT HIS VIEWS

In an interview with Time magazine appearing on its website, Rupert Murdoch has acknowledged that Fox News Channel may well represent a major reason why his plans to acquire the Wall Street Journal have incensed critics. But when asked whether Fox News is an expression of his own political views, he replied: "Yes! No! Yes and no. The commentators are not. Bill O'Reilly certainly not. Geraldo Rivera certainly not. But Brit Hume and his team on the nightly news? Yes. They play it absolutely straight!" On the other hand, he said, CNN is pretty consistently on the left, if you look at their choice of stories, what they play up. It's not what they say. It's what they highlight. ... And if you look at our general news, do we put on things which favor the right rather than the left? I don't know."

NBA SIGNS NEW CONTRACT WORTH NEARLY $1 BILLION YEARLY

ESPN/ABC and TNT seemed willing to jump through hoops to extend their contract with the NBA Wednesday, signing a new eight-year deal worth about $930 million a year, up 22 percent from the $765 million a year that the basketball behemoth has been receiving under the current contract. The new deal also takes into account digital media rights. Reporters indicated that it may be the first time that broadcasting and digital rights have been packaged together in any deal between a sports league and broadcasters. "It's really a prototype for sports deals going forward," ESPN president George Bodenheimer told reporters. "The desire for sports content hasn't changed, but how fans consume it has," NBA Commissioner David Stern said. "What you're seeing is the movement of rights to follow the fan to enhance the experience for those who want to experience it all."

CONSERVATIVE PARENTS TV COUNCIL WANTS CBS LICENSE YANKED

The Parents Television Council has challenged the license of CBS-owned KUTV in Salt Lake City, citing in particular what it called a "teen orgy" scene that appeared in the drama Without a Trace and which the FCC had claimed was indecent. On its website, Broadcasting & Cable reported Wednesday that in response to the challenge, the FCC has asked CBS to document what steps it took to comply with a consent decree that it signed prior to the broadcast in which it agreed to institute policies to prevent the airing of indecent material. CBS issued a statement saying that it plans to respond promptly to the FCC's demands, adding, "We are confident our position will be affirmed that the episode was not indecent."

RIDE A NEW YORK TAXI, WATCH NBC

NBC is hailing a deal with New York's taxi commission allowing it to show clips of its television shows, along with advertising, on NY10, the Clear Channel-owned New York Taxi Entertainment Network. In a statement, Mark French, the head of strategic partnerships for NBC Universal, commented, "Not only can we provide informative and entertaining NBC programming to an on-the-go audience, but we can offer our advertisers a new platform to better achieve their marketing objectives."

BBC CHIEF SAYS NEW SOFTWARE MOVES TV INTO A NEW AGE

Suggesting that it will rank as the greatest advancement in broadcasting since the BBC inaugurated color television 40 years ago, BBC director general Mark Thompson announced Wednesday that the BBC's new iPlayer will become available in the U.K. on July 27. The downloadable software will enable television viewers to watch all BBC programs on Windows-based computers seven days after they are broadcast. (They are automatically deleted 30 days later.) "BBC Television launched color TV in July 1967," Thompson said. "The iPlayer is at least as big a redefinition of what TV can be, what radio can be, what broadcasting can be, as color television was 40 years ago." A Mac version of the iPlayer is expected to become available in the fall.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.