GE CHIEF: WILL "HANG IN THERE" WITH NBC

GE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt says that despite NBC's current woes, he has no intention of selling off GE's entertainment businesses. "There are more reasons to hang in there and see the business improve and see how the next hand gets played," Immelt told today's (Monday) Los Angeles Times. "If I thought that content was going to be less valued in a digitized age, I would say, 'Boy, now might be the time to get out,' " Immelt said. "I don't feel that way." Nevertheless, he added, "I don't fall in love with any business inside the company. ... I have to be tough-minded. Businesses have to perform, and I'm not in [the entertainment business] just to be in it. I'm in it because I think it is a good economic fit for our investors." Immelt also gave an unstinting endorsement of NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker. "What I've always loved about Jeff is he is completely invested in this industry. It's in his blood, he's competitive, he is passionate, he lives it 24-by-7," he told the Times. Immelt declined to discuss the recent shakeup that saw Ben Silverman replace Kevin Reilly as the chief programmer at NBC, saying only, "The timing was awkward, but sometimes it works out that way."

SILVERMAN TO AIR ADVERTISER-FRIENDLY SHOWS

NBC's new chief Ben Silverman has indicated that his regime intends to be advertiser friendly and will be searching for ways to integrate ads into the content of programs. Advertisers, he told Saturday's Los Angeles Times, are demanding greater input, and "we're going to work with the creative roster to deliver it." He acknowledged that some program producers are likely to balk at such an effort. "That's OK," he said, "but it may ultimately be a problem for them. The commercial value of their shows may be diminished if they don't have those integrations in them." In a profile of Silverman, Advertising Age says in its current edition, "What makes him different from his predecessors is his experience catering to advertisers -- and the fact that he's always seemed to be the rare entertainment exec who actually enjoys spending time on Madison Avenue." Meanwhile, Silverman is moving swiftly to reorganize the top corporate echelons at NBC, naming Katherine Pope as the new president of NBC Universal Television Studio and Teri Weinberg, an executive at Silverman's Reveille production company, as the new executive vice president of NBC Entertainment.

MURDOCH TO MEET TODAY WITH WALL STREET JOURNAL OWNERS

Rupert Murdoch is expected to meet today (Monday) with the family that owns Dow Jones, the company that operates the Wall Street Journal, according to published reports. The Journal said today that Murdoch plans to discuss the editorial independence of Dow Jones with the Bancrofts. He reportedly will be accompanied by his son James, CEO of British Sky Broadcasting, as part of an apparent effort to portray himself as a member of a family that, like the Bancrofts, has a long history in the newspaper business. Murdoch's own father launched the Australian newspaper business that eventually became the international media empire News Corp under the son. Murdoch has said that he intends to expand his empire even further by launching a business cable channel later this year. If he succeeds in acquiring Dow Jones, he is expected to name the channel after the Journal.

L.A. SHERIFF BARS MEDIA FROM HILTON JAIL

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has turned down requests from the news media to interview Paris Hilton while she is serving her jail sentence. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Baca said, "Paying a debt to society should not be an element of her celebrity. ... Her occupation is publicity, but no one should profit in jail." The hotel heiress and TV personality was sentenced to 45 days for violating the terms of her probation in a DUI case but, according to officials, will probably serve about 23 days behind bars if she behaves.

CHICAGO MAN BUSTED FOR UPLOADING EPISODES OF 24

A Chicago man has found himself caught in a tangled web after admitting that he found four never-before-broadcast episodes of Fox's 24 on an unnamed website, then uploaded them in January to the website LiveDigital.com. Acknowledging that the man, Jorge Romero, was not the first to post the pirated copies on the Internet, the FBI said that he was nevertheless being charged with distributing them. He was identified after Fox TV, which airs 24, subpoenaed LiveDigital demanding that the uploader by identified. In a statement, Fox said that it hopes Romero's case "will serve as a powerful warning that uploading copyrighted TV shows and movies to the Internet can be a crime with significant penalties and will be prosecuted as such."

KIDNEY CONTEST REVEALED AS A FRAUD

As some TV columnists had suspected, a Dutch television contest in which a dying woman, identified only as "Lisa," had supposedly agreed to donate a kidney to patients in need of transplants was revealed to be a hoax Friday. Dutch reality-show host Patrick Lodiers said that the program had been intended to pressure the government to end restrictive laws on organ transplants and to raise public awareness of the issue. The woman who was said to have agreed to provide the donor kidney was not actually dying, Lodiers admitted, and the three contestants were aware that they were participating in the hoax.

OFF THE AIR AND ONTO YOUTUBE

Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV), the opposition television station whose transmitter was taken over by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, is back on the air -- sort of. RCTV has created its own channel on YouTube, where it is continuing to produce the controversial news program El Observador, which has drawn nearly 200,000 viewers since May 28, when it first moved to YouTube. Three hour-long editions are being uploaded daily. An employee told CNN: "We're just doing our job as journalists. ... As long as somebody is seeing us, we consider what we are doing to be valid."

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.