WILL VIACOM SUIT SEND YOUTUBE DOWN THE TUBES?

Industry analysts were waiting to see whether other media companies would follow Viacom's lead in suing Google subsidiary YouTube for copyright infringement or instead use the threat of legal action as leverage to create favorable partnerships with the popular video website. Even at major media companies themselves, there appeared to be disagreement in the ranks over how such video-sharing sites should be dealt with. In an interview with CNNMoney.com, Brian Wieser, a senior VP at media buyer Magna Global, observed, "Marketing people love YouTube and legal people hate it." Indeed, Paul Cappuccio, the general counsel for Time Warner, signaled Tuesday that his company may be considering similar action. "Time is up for YouTube," Cappuccio told the Wall Street Journal. "It's no longer permissible for them to have unauthorized copyrighted material on there." News Corp spokesman Andrew Butcher told Bloomberg News: "We have always been supportive of content companies protecting their copyright." However, several reports indicated that some media companies may be less inclined to sue because they may not wish to risk harming existing partnerships with Google. Nor is it clear that they'll win if they do sue. YouTube has said that it cannot be held responsible for what users post on its site and that it removes copyrighted material at the owner's request. "We are confident that YouTube meets and exceeds its legal responsibilities," Google attorney Alexander Macgillivray told today's New York Times. But in an interview with USA Today, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman described Google/YouTube's course as "Take people's content and ask questions later." Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone added in an interview with the Los Angeles Times: "Any company or any person who illegally misappropriates our product has to be stopped." Reporting Viacom's $1-billion lawsuit, the Baltimore Sun commented today: "The notion of the Internet as a free ride, a place in cyberspace where almost anything is available for nothing, might at last be put to a real test."

FOX DOMINATES NIELSEN LIST

Once again, three nights of enormous ratings for American Idol put Fox well ahead on the Nielsen list for last week. Each episode of the show wound up at the top of the ratings chart. Moreover, two shows that followed them, House and Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, placed fourth and fifth on the list. Fox wound up with an average 8.4 rating and a 14 share for the week. CBS, which offered mostly reruns against the Idol competition, settled for a 7.0/12. NBC finished fourth with a 5.1/8, while ABC trailed with a 4.5/7.

The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:

1. American Idol (Wednesday), Fox, 16.7/26; 2. American Idol (Thursday), Fox, 16.0/25; 3. American Idol (Tuesday), Fox, 15.9/24; 4. House, Fox, 14.1/22; 5. Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, Fox, 11.8/18; 6. Deal or No Deal (Monday), NBC, 110./17; 6. Without a Trace, CBS, 110./18; 8. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 10.0/15; 9. CSI: Miami, CBS, 9.6/17; 10. Cold Case, CBS, 9.5/15; 10. Two and a Half Men, CBS, 9.5/14.

IDOL'S RATINGS SURGE ON TUESDAY

As the current American Idol contestants headed towards the final rounds, ratings for the show continued to soar Tuesday. The two-hour edition averaged an 18.2 rating and a 28 share (29.39 million viewers), with the final hour, beginning at 9:00 p.m., averaging a 19.3/29 (31.18 million viewers).

REDSTONE TAKES PAY CUT

CBS Corp. has settled a shareholders' suit over executive compensation by agreeing to reduce Executive Chairman Sumner Redstone's annual salary to $1 million from $1.75 million and eliminate his current $1.3-million deferred compensation. Moreover his annual cash bonus will be cut to $3.5 million from $6.1 million. Redstone accepted the new terms apparently without condition, saying in a statement, "The pay-for-performance model is one I have long championed, as it more closely aligns executive compensation with the returns the company generates for its shareholders."

RATHER SAYS ANCHORS DEPEND ON STRONG NETWORK EXECS

Former CBS anchor Dan Rather has said that the strength of a network's news operation comes from the top. In an interview with CNET News.com, Rather said, "Good journalism, great journalism, starts with owners who have guts." He pointed out, however, that "it's increasingly hard for people in news to have any access to the top leaders of the giant corporations. But I think you have to work hard at it." He suggested that he himself had not worked hard enough to explain to network heads "what is is we do [and] why we do it" and, when it comes to investigative reports, "why it's in the company's interest, never mind the country's interest, to do it."

NEW YORK ANCHOR FALLS ASLEEP -- IS FIRED

A morning anchor for ABC's flagship New York station, WABC-TV, was fired Tuesday after he reportedly did not show up on set during a Good Morning America station break Monday to plug upcoming coverage of a fire in the Bronx that killed 10 people. Several websites reported that Steve Bartelstein had fallen asleep in his office at the TV station. "It was a stunning move, considering that Bartelstein has been a major player on the station's top-rated early-morning newscast," the New York Daily News commented on its website.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.