REPORT: CHERNIN MAY STEP DOWN

Peter Chernin, who, as president and COO of News Corp, is regarded as one of the most powerful media executives in the U.S., is considering stepping down and possibly launching a new media company on his own, the Los Angeles Times reported today (Friday), citing unnamed News Corp executives. The newspaper indicated however, that Chernin had not made a decision about his future and that only last week he described his current contract talks with News Corp as "constructive and friendly." Nevertheless, the Times quotes others close to Chernin as saying that he is not interested in signing another five-year contract and that he is telling friends that he's going to start "something new."

BIG WEEKEND FOR "GETS"

Although only three primetime news magazines are airing these days -- 60 Minutes and 48 Hours Mystery on CBS and 20/20 on ABC -- two of them are almost certain to dominate the ratings this week with big "gets." It was announced Thursday that 60 Minutes had landed the first interview with Barack Obama and his wife Michelle since the election. The interview, to be conducted by Steve Kroft, was scheduled to take place today (Friday) and to air on Sunday. Meanwhile, Barbara Walters, in one of her rare appearances on 20/20, the program she once hosted, is scheduled to interview Thomas Beatie, the controversial "pregnant man" who gave birth to a daughter earlier this year and who reveals in the interview airing tonight that he is pregnant again.

VIEWERS QUITTING BROADCAST NETS, HEADING FOR CABLE

A comparison of Nielsen ratings figures for broadcast and cable networks suggests that broadcast's loss is cable's gain. As several recent industry reports have indicated, primetime ratings among the major networks are down by double-digit percentages this season. However, the website TVbytheNumbers.com points out that cable networks have been showing strong gains. "Some of these gains, for the news channels," it observed, "can be attributed to the election season and the financial crisis, but most are due to the long term trend of viewers shifting from broadcast to cable." The website noted that while most of the leading cable channels have shown significant audience growth -- Nick at Nite is up 32 percent and ESPN, 10.5 percent -- not all have. It pointed out, for example, that Disney channel is down 11 percent from last year.

LOCAL STATIONS TO POOL NEWS RESOURCES

An NBC-owned and a Fox-owned television station in Philadelphia plan to pool coverage of certain scheduled events in the city and make the footage available to other news outlets there as well, including newspapers and radio stations, NBC and Fox officials said Thursday. NBC's WCAU-TV and Fox's WTXF-TV plan to launch the local news service in January. If successful, similar services could be set up in other cities in which the two media giants both own stations, including Los Angeles, Chicago, New York Dallas and Washington, D.C. Jack Abernethy, CEO of Fox Television Stations Inc., and John Wallace, president of NBC Local Media, who made the announcement, steered away from describing the pool coverage as a cost-cutting move. "By allowing us to save on duplicate expenditures we can be even more competitive with NBC and other stations through signature pieces and investigative reporting," Abernethy said. However, today's (Friday) Wall Street Journal noted that stations are under pressure to cut costs as major advertisers, particularly automotive accounts, have drastically reduced local advertising. It quoted Wallace as acknowledging, "By doing ventures like this, we believe it will drive us to that light at the end of the tunnel."

PUSHING DAISIES MAY LIVE UP TO ITS NAME

ABC's Pushing Daisies, which got off to a solid start last season, has apparently wilted and died in its second season, TVWeek indicated Thursday. Citing industry sources familiar with the situation, the trade publication reported on its website that ABC has decided not to produce any more episodes of the show after its 13-episode fall order is completed. TVWeek attributed the show's fall from grace to the writers' strike, noting that it attracted both critical praise and solid ratings in its debut. However, it added, "Whatever momentum the show had was killed by the work stoppage, and when the strike was over, ABC made the decision not to bring the show back in the spring. Only nine episodes aired during the show's first season, and viewers had to wait more than nine months for the second season." The result has been low ratings since the new season began. Meanwhile, series creator Bryan Fuller has discounted the report. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Fuller said, ""Our ABC exec was on the set last night saying they are still swinging in the fight to keep Daisies on the air. ... Spirits are high and hopeful and everyone here is very proud of our work and this show."

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