GENERAL ROUTED BY CBS

CBS News has fired Ret. Maj. Gen. John Batiste as a consultant after he appeared in an ad criticizing President Bush's handling of the Iraq war. Batiste, who commanded the First Infantry Division in Iraq in 2004 and 2005, retired from the Army in November 2005 and has since rebutted claims by the president that his policy is based on recommendations from his commanders in the field. However, his participation in a television ad financed by VoteVets.org in which he states, "Mr. President, you have placed our nation in peril," was cited by the network as a violation of CBS News standards. Linda Mason, head of standards and special projects for CBS News, told the CBS blog Public Eye: "By putting himself front and center in an anti-Bush ad, the viewer might have the feeling everything he says is anti-Bush. And that doesn't seem like an analytical approach to the issues we want to discuss." The network's action seemed to take even some conservatives by surprise. The conservative news site NewsMax pointed out that CBS hired Batiste after the general had already stated that he had resigned from the Army in order to protest against the president's conduct of the war in Iraq.

SURVIVOR'S RATINGS CONTINUE TO DECLINE

Sunday night's two-hour season finale of Survivor: Fiji averaged a 7.9 rating and a 13 share, down 16 percent from the 9.4/14 Survivor posted for its season finale last year. Significantly, the second hour of the show, in which it was revealed that Los Angeles advertising executive Earl Cole had received the million-dollar prize, fell to second place behind Desperate Housewives, which posted an 11.0/17. The 10:00 p.m. hour was won by CBS's Brothers & Sisters, which drew an 8.5/14, significantly above the Survivor reunion show, which managed only a 6.5/11.

LAW & ORDER: CI SERIES TO MOVE TO CABLE

All-new episodes of Law & Order: Criminal Intent will air next season on the USA cable network, the first time an established broadcast network series has moved to cable, it was reported over the weekend. However, NBC which has aired the series in the past, is expected to slot reruns in the time periods of any failed shows next season. Recently, the network has been packing those vacated periods with episodes of its magazine series Dateline -- as many as six hours of its 22 primetime hours each week. In a statement referring to his L&O strategy NBC President/CEO Jeff Zucker said, "By changing the traditional way programs are rolled out, we have reinforced NBC Universal's forward thinking approach to new programming strategies and our willingness to embrace bold thinking." Meanwhile, the network said that the original Law & Order will return for its eighteenth season in the fall and that it will also bring back Law & Order: SVU, its highest-rated L&O series, for a seventh season.

CBS NEWS PRESIDENT GLUM OVER COURIC RATINGS

CBS News President Sean McManus, who previously has been steadfastly upbeat in discussing the longterm prospects of The CBS Evening News With Katie Couric, has presumably been stung by recent ratings showing that the program has dropped to its lowest point since the current ratings system was introduced in 1987. "We are a distant third," he told today's (Monday) New York Times. "There is no way to sugarcoat that fact." Nevertheless, McManus denied a recent report in the Philadelphia Inquirer that quoted CBS News insiders as saying that the network intends to replace Couric next year if her ratings do not improve. "It's a flat-out lie that there has been any consideration, any meeting or any discussion about replacing Katie," Mr. McManus said. He speculated that Couric's problems are gender related. "There is a percentage of people out there that probably prefers not to get their news from a woman," he remarked. But he maintained that quality will out. "Three years, four years, five years; that is the time frame that I think, realistically, you need to use to evaluate where the broadcast is."

SHARK WEEK HOST KILLED DURING STUNT

Hawaiian adventurer Jimmy Hall, 41, died Thursday as he filmed himself parachuting off the side of a mountain in the Arctic Circle for a Discovery Channel documentary. Hall, founder of Hawaii Shark Encounters, which flouted Hawaiian laws by bringing tourists three miles beyond the state's territorial waters to watch him feed and otherwise interact with sharks, had been named in April to host Discovery Channel's upcoming Shark Week. Only about half the shark series has been produced, the Channel said over the weekend.

BBC AND SCIENTOLOGY WAGE DOCUMENTARY WAR

The BBC and Scientology are battling it out with opposing documentaries. The BBC documentary, set to air on the popular news magazine Panorama tonight (Monday), is the latest effort by a news outlet to portray the organization as a dangerous cult. However, Scientologists followed the BBC camera crew and reporters while they were making the documentary and have produced a documentary of their own, segments of which have been loaded onto YouTube. The London Daily Telegraph reported today that the organization has also distributed 100,000 copies of their documentary, which at one point shows veteran BBC reporter John Sweeney screaming at a Scientology member. Sweeney has acknowledged that he was reprimanded by the BBC for the incident. "What I did was wrong and stupid, and I am embarrassed about it," he told the newspaper. Mike Rinder, a legal affairs spokesman for Scientology International, said that the organization had decided to make its own film after it became clear that Sweeney's "story was pre-written. He wouldn't let the facts get in the way, so we decided to do a John Sweeney on John Sweeney."

Brian B.