i>TV GUIDE FOLDS IN CANADA

Faced with increasing competition from TV listings on digital cable boxes and online sites, as well as gossipy items about TV celebrities in tabloids and slick weekly magazines, the Canadian version of TV Guide has thrown in the towel and will publish its last issue on Nov. 20, it said Thursday. The magazine is published in Canada by Transcontinental Corp., which said that it will continue to operate a website and occasionally put out a special issue like its annual fall preview and its guide to the Oscars. Circulation of the magazine has plummeted in Canada, as it has in the U.S. It now stands at 243,000, down from 430,000 just four years ago. In the U.S., it currently stands at 3.7 million, down from nearly 20 million at its peak in the 1970s. In an interview with today's Ottawa Citizen, TV critic Al Strachan noted that print guides are unable to keep up with the networks' numerous last-minute scheduling changes. "This is the end of an era," Strachan told the newspaper, indicating that he saw it coming when it moved to a larger-sized format. ""For me, the most distinctive thing about the magazine was its distinct size and shape -- a perfect fit for the TV stand. But the TV Guide generation is aging -- the iPod generation goes straight to the Internet for their listings." Carleton University journalism professor Chris Waddell echoed, Strachan's remarks, telling the Citizen: "To some degree, TV Guide, whether it's the publication or a guide in your newspaper, has been dying for a while -- using the magazine to find out what's on television has become less and less important." This month the Los Angeles Times dropped its television guide from its Sunday edition and informed subscribers that it would henceforth include it with the Saturday edition -- but only if they requested it. Unlike the previous guide, the new one contains only program listings, without additional editorial content.

ABC'S WOODRUFF TO RETURN NEXT YEAR

Former ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff, who was critically injured by a roadside bomb while reporting from Iraq last January, is working with his wife on a documentary about his uphill recovery, the network said Thursday. The special, which the network hopes to air sometime during the spring, will mark Woodruff's first on-camera appearance since he was injured and reportedly will include Woodruff's interviews with the medical personnel who saved his life. In addition the Woodruffs are working on a book together that will be published by Random House.

SUPERHERO TO BEAM ONTO GUIDING LIGHT

Guiding Light, America's oldest soap opera -- it began on radio in 1937 and moved to television in 1952 -- will be taking aim at younger viewers next month when it introduces a Marvel Comics-created superhero on Nov. 1. Marvel Comics said that it will cross-promote the storyline with an eight-page insert to appear in several of its comic books in which the Guiding Light characters will interact with Marvel superheroes.

CBS NEWSMAN CRITICIZES TV COVERAGE OF "DIRTY BOMB" SCARE

Veteran CBS newsman Bob Orr, whose beat is transportation and homeland security, has criticized broadcast coverage of a warning made on a website that seven "dirty bombs" -- conventional bombs with nuclear material inside designed to contaminate an area -- would be detonated outside seven football stadiums this weekend. Despite official assurances to the NFL from intelligence analysts that the threat was "non-credible," the matter was leaked to CNN, where, said Orr, "it created quite a sensation." Given the manner in which the cable news network covered the matter, wrote Orr on the CBS blog Public Eye, viewers might have "thought al Qaeda was massing at goal posts from the Meadowlands to the Oakland Coliseum ready to storm the fields and strike a blow at another sacred American institution." Other media outlets followed with similar reports. The story, Orr wrote, proved to be irresistible. "It the kind of sexy elements that get news directors to crank up team coverage -- big crowds, dirty bombs, football, and a 'warning' from the government. What it was missing was some substance and restraint from media outlets which let hype trump context."

NBC EXECS DIFFER OVER PROGRAMMING 8:00 P.M. HOUR

Displaying a striking disagreement among NBC Universal's top executives, Kevin Reilly, the company's entertainment president, took issue Thursday with Jeff Zucker, the company's TV chief, over Zucker's remarks on Wednesday that the network plans to eliminate scripted shows during the 8:00 p.m. hour, replacing them with game and reality series. As reported by today's (Friday) Daily Variety, Reilly told a Beverly Hills luncheon Thursday, "You can't be exclusive with reality at 8:00. You have to be in the scripted business. It's not an absolute." Appearing to publicly overrule Zucker, Reilly said that the network plans to continue airing My Name is Earl and The Office during the 8:00 p.m. hour on Thursdays. Other analysts questioned the strategy further, suggesting that dumping low-cost shows into the 8:00 hour would affect ratings for the 9:00 hour. Only last May Zucker had said that he planned to concentrate on strengthening the 8:00 hour, calling it "the key driver" of the rest of the schedule. Meanwhile, today's New York Post, citing sources close to NBC, reported that "the relationship between [Zucker and NBC Universal Chairman Bob Wright] "recently has been steeped in tension." The Post noted that Zucker recently passed on Ugly Betty, which has become a big hit on ABC -- at 8:00 p.m.

NBC REMOVING IMAGES OF MADONNA ON CROSS

Bowing to complaints from conservative Christian organizations, NBC has decided to remove images of Madonna hanging on a cross and wearing a crown of thorns from a two-hour concert special scheduled to air on Nov. 22. A massive letter-writing campaign had been initiated by the Rev. Donald Wildmon, chairman of the American Family Assn., who said Thursday, "This is a great victory. ... [NBC] would have lost nearly every affiliate they had. People are fed up with NBC's anti-Christian bigotry." The AFA said that its members had sent out more than 750,000 messages to NBC complaining about the planned broadcast. Catholic League President Bill Donohue told the Associated Press, "What NBC should have done is to admit that since it refused to air the Danish cartoons that Muslims objected to earlier in the year, it felt obliged not to treat Christians in a discriminatory manner."

PENTAGON PROBE OKAYS IRAQ PROPAGANDA MOVE

Using Washington D.C.-based The Lincoln Group, a public relations firm, to pay Iraqi newspapers to run pro-American stories did not violate Pentagon policies, the Pentagon's inspector general ruled Thursday. The review had been requested by Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy, who had claimed that the Pentagon policy raised policy questions "about whether the administration's manipulation of the news in Iraq contradicts our goal of a free and independent press there."

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.