FALL TV SLOWDOWN CONTINUES

The broadcast networks saw their audiences decline Wednesday, due in part to competition from post-season baseball on cable network TBS but also due to widespread audience disinterest in many of the new and returning shows. NBC's Knight Rider and CBS's Gary Unmarried posted an identical 4.6 rating and 7 share, the kind of numbers typical of summer reruns, not fall newcomers. On ABC, the second season premiere of Pushing Davies was buried in fourth place with a 4.3/7, less than half the 9.0/15 it garnered when it debuted a year earlier. Fox replaced the poorly rated new series Do Not Disturb with 'Til Death at 9:00 -- to no avail. Death died with a fourth-place 2.9/5. The highest-rated show of the night remained CBS's CSI: NY, which posted a 9.5/16 at 10:00 p.m. Second place went to the season premiere of ABC's Dirty Sexy Money with a 4.6/8 -- well off the 7.9/12 that it recorded when it debuted a year earlier.

BUFFET RESCUES GENERAL ELECTRIC

In an effort to shore up the underpinnings of General Electric, the parent of NBC Universal, Wall Street investor Warren Buffett on Wednesday pledged to buy GE preferred stock for $3 billion. The company has been trading near its five-year low, largely because of turmoil in its GE Capital unit, which, until recently, had been accounting for nearly half the company's annual profit. Under the deal, Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway company will receive an annual 10-percent dividend worth $300 million a year and also receive warrants to buy $3 billion in common stock within five years at $22.25 a share. (It closed Wednesday at $24.50.) In its report about the deal, today's (Thursday) Los Angeles Times observed that it shows "that the Oracle of Omaha drives a hard bargain." In an interview on CNBC (which GE also owns), Buffett expressed confidence that GE will "be around in five or 10 or 100 years from now." He also forecast that "we'll get action" on the Congressional bail-out plan. "If we don't," he said, "I'll have done some dumb things."

OBAMA AD YANKED FROM YOUTUBE

NBC and MSNBC have forced YouTube to remove an ad supporting Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. The sibling networks have been accused by supporters of Republican Sen. John McCain of showing favoritism to Obama, and the Obama ad, titled "Bad News," employs footage featuring NBC news personality Tom Brokaw and MSNBC host Keith Olbermann. (Employees of NBC News are not permitted to appear in any type of advertisement.) When the two networks initially sent a cease and desist letter to the Obama camp last week demanding that it withdraw the ad, the campaign instead merely attached a disclaimer, reading "NBC and MSNBC did not cooperate in the making of this video." "That is not good enough," an NBC spokeswoman said afterwards.

CITIZEN JOURNALISM HITS A BUMP

CBS News's effort to encourage ordinary citizens to upload newsworthy photos and videos using the iPhone application Eyemobile, ran into a snag Wednesday after the COO of BrandContent, a Boston-based advertising consulting firm, discovered soft porn images on the site. Karl Johnson said that after he uploaded the app, he not only saw the images, including a video of three women engaged in sex acts, but advertising on the clips placed by AdMob. "This seems to be a classic case of nobody paying attention to whether any of the materials are newsworthy or not," Johnson told Advertising Age. Jason Spero, head of marketing at AdMob, said that after CBS was alerted, it "immediately removed the content and banned the user that uploaded it from any future use of the application."