YOUTUBE'S NEW TUBE
In an apparent effort to morph itself into the TV of the Internet, YouTube on Monday expanded the width of its pictures, giving it the 16:9 aspect ratio of wide-screen television and most movies. For videos uploaded in the 4:3 aspect ratio, the video website will display vertical bars on each side of the picture. In an announcement, YouTube said, "We're expanding the width of the page to 960 pixels to better reflect the quality of the videos you create and the screens that you use to watch them." The announcement comes just two weeks after YouTube announced an agreement with MGM that will provide full-length feature films on the site for the first time and a separate agreement with CBS to to provide full-length TV shows. Meanwhile, the video website Hulu said Monday that it will begin offering programs, including 30 Rock, The Office, and Heroes, in 720p high definition. And Blockbuster today (Tuesday) unveiled its new settop box allowing users to watch thousands of movies and TV shows in its digital library on demand.
NLRB TO HEAR SOAP WRITERS' CASE
The National Labor Relations Board has agreed to hold a hearing on whether the Writers Guild of America acted illegally when it denounced 28 writers who filed for financial core status during the 2007-08 strike. Most of the writers worked on television soap operas at the time and expressed fear that without scripts the soaps would be canceled permanently, leaving them jobless. In reaction the WGA leaders issued a statement, listing the names of the 28 writers and urging that they "must be held at arm's length by the rest of and judged accountable for what they are -- strikebreakers whose actions placed everything for which we fought so hard at risk." On Monday NLRB General Counsel Richard Meisberg upheld a complaint filed by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers alleging that the statement by the WGA leaders amounted to a "prohibited retaliation" against the writers. The guild issued a statement saying that it "will defend itself fully at the NLRB hearing."
PTC SLAMS INTO GM, NISSAN
The Parents Television Council, which has spearheaded efforts to bar sexual content from broadcast television, has issued a list of "worst" and "best" advertisers based on the types of programs that they sponsor. Topping the list of "worst" advertisers were General Motors and Nissan which, the group said, had purchased nearly 1,000 ads on shows that the PTC has listed as objectionable. Others on the "worst" list include L'Oreal, Pepsi-Cola, GlaxoSmithKline, Reckitt Benckiser [Lysol, Spray 'n Wash, Airwick, etc.], Target, Kohl's, Verizon, and Toyota. In a statement, PTC President Tim Winter said, "Parents can thank many of the advertisers on the worst list for enabling the networks to pump some of the most shocking and outrageous content on the air today directly into their living rooms." Topping the "best" list were Coca-Cola, Clorox, Century 21 Real Estate, H&R Block, Ferrero [Rocher Chocolates, Nutella], CVS Caremark, Whirlpool Corp., Hershey, State Farm and Hewlett-Packard.
COLMES QUITS FOX NEWS SHOW WITH HANNITY
President-elect Obama may be bringing rivals together in his new administration, but the high-profile rivals on Fox News's 9:00 p.m. hour are splitting after 12 years. Liberal Alan Colmes announced on his website that he is walking away from what he described as "one of the longest marriages on cable news" with conservative Sean Hannity. He later told the Associated Press: We have a Democratic House, Senate and president. ... My work is done." The Hannity & Colmes hour ranks second only to Fox's The O'Reilly Factor in primetime cable news ratings, regularly beating Larry King on CNN and Rachel Maddow on MSNBC during the same hour. "Not only has Alan been a remarkable co-host, he's been a great friend, which is rare in this industry," Hannity said in a statement. "I'll genuinely miss sparring with such a skillful debate partner." It was unknown whether Colmes will be replaced by another debate partner or whether Hannity would go it alone on the evening program.
CBS PROCLAIM VICTORY IN NOVEMBER SWEEPS
As far as CBS is concerned, the November sweeps are over and it has won -- bigtime. The network said Monday that it will wind up averaging 11.8 million total viewers this month, well ahead of second place ABC, which it said will have 10.5 million. NBC will come in third with 7.8 million, just ahead of Fox with 7 million. The Hollywood Reporter observed today that among the key 18-49 adults demo, the race remains a dead heat between CBS and ABC.