President Obama, who has been faulted for having a teleprompter erected in front of him at virtually every public appearance, may wish he had had one operating during his interview with Jay Leno on Thursday night's Tonightshow. During a light discussion of Obama's notoriously poor bowling skills, the president remarked, "It's like, it was like Special Olympics or something." Almost immediately after the show, the White House issued a statement saying that the president had "in no way intended to disparage the Special Olympics. ... He thinks that the Special Olympics are a wonderful program that gives an opportunity to shine to people with disabilities from around the world." Asked by Leno earlier if he thought he was being judged too quickly after only two months in office, Obama replied, "In Washington, it's a little bit like American Idol, but everybody is Simon Cowell. Everybody's got an opinion." The most startling comment of the night came from Leno, who remarked during his monologue, "A lot of people were surprised that the president came to NBC. You'd think by this time he'd be tired of big companies on the brink of disaster with a bunch of overpaid executives."


The QVC home-shopping channel has agreed to pay $7.5 million to settle complaints by the Federal Trade Commission that it presented deceptive ads for dietary weight-loss supplements. QVC, a unit of John Malone's Liberty Media, had previously been charged with airing similar programs that included what the FTC charged were false and unsubstantiated claims for such products. At the time, the matter was settled when QVC agreed not to air them again. The new settlement further bars QVC from selling any products claiming to eliminate cellulite. QVC has been struggling during the current economic turndown and has been the principal drain on Liberty Media's profits. Last month it reported a 22-percent plunge in operating income during the fourth quarter of 2008.


FremantleMedia, the producers of American Idol and its British counterpart Pop Idol have announced their support for the so-called three-strikes plan that would disconnect BitTorrent users who are caught downloading pirated material more than three times. FremantleMedia has not permitted its programs to be offered online -- even by Hulu, which is partly owned by Fox television, which airs American Idol. (Individual performances can be purchased from Apple's iTunes Store.) As reported by PaidContent UK, FremantleMedia CEO Tony Cohen told the Changing Media Summit in London Thursday that he supports a micropayment system that would allow viewers to download programs after they are aired by paying a few cents. But in the meantime, he said, "There needs to be an effective intermediate stage that will limit, suspend or cut off offenders' access to broadband capacity."


The BBC issued a bleak economic forecast today -- for the future of its own employees -- saying that it is planning to cut its budget by nearly $600 million by freezing the salaries of executives and chopping the fees paid to top talent. The publicly supported broadcaster has been making drastic budget cuts for nearly five years, laying off nearly 10,000 employees in the process. The cuts have not been enough, BBC Director General Mark Thompson announced Thursday, saying that the new ones will be especially "painful." He added: "The impact of the likely falling-away of household growth, the collapse of the commercial property market and pressure on our commercial revenues mean that without further significant reduction in our spending plans we would exceed our statutory borrowing limit within two years."