WILL NEWS CORP MAKE A PLAY FOR NBC?
News Corp President and COO Chase Carey has acknowledged that he is "thinking about" getting into the bidding for a stake in NBC Universal. Speaking at a media conference in New York Wednesday, Carey said that while his company is "not actively engaged" in talks with General Electric over the broadcast, cable, movie, and theme park company, any time you have something of this size and scope going on you're not doing your job if you're not thinking about it." Carey suggested that News Corp might particularly be interested in making a play for the company's cable networks, which include MSNBC, CNBC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, The Weather Channel and Oxygen, among others. "I think they are great assets," Carey said. "They are run really nicely. A group of channels like that doesn't come along very often." But Carey implied that News Corp is not likely to make a move unless GE's negotiations with Comcast founder. "There's a decent chance [the GE-Comcast talks] will come to fruition," he remarked. Carey also added his vote to the proposal that the online Hulu site, in which News Corp is partnered with NBC and Disney, should begin charging a monthly subscription fee to viewers who wish to view content on demand.
THE WEATHER CHANNEL: SINGING IN THE RAIN
Ordinarily people tune in to the Weather Channel merely to get an overall view of weather conditions in their area for the day, rarely sticking with it long enough to view ads. The exception is a major weather-related disaster. Now, the channel, which was acquired by NBC last year for $3.6 billion, has hit on a way to hold onto audiences longer -- by airing movies related to the weather. It announced Monday that the first such film, The Perfect Storm, starring George Clooney, will air as part of a Friday-night feature titled "The Weather Channel Presents" beginning October 30, the 18th anniversary of the actual "perfect storm" on which the movie was based. In a statement, TWC programming chief Geoffrey Darby said, "Adding films to our Friday night lineup is a great way for us to further demonstrate how weather is an all-encompassing part of our lives that entertains and inspires us."
NCIS DRAWS ITS HIGHEST RATINGS YET
The audience for CBS's NCIS continues to grow exponentially. Final Nielsen figures released on Wednesday indicated that Tuesday's show posted its highest rating ever in overall households, a 13.0 rating and a 21 share -- representing 21.25 million viewers. The rest of CBS's schedule also posted solid results despite competition from post-season coverage of Major League Baseball by Fox. On Thursday, ratings-challenged NBC got a boost when its freshman series Mercy won its time period. But CBS once again was the winner of the night. thanks to Criminal Minds, which drew 13.72 million viewers and CSI: N.Y., which drew 12.56 million.
PROTESTERS BREACH BBC SECURITY
A group protesting the appearance of Nick Griffin, the leader of the British National Party, on a BBC public affairs show Thursday night burst through the main gates of the BBC's studios in London. At about 5:00 p.m. the London Times reported on its website that about 20 protesters of the 600 or so who had gathered outside the building earlier in the day had succeeded in breaching security and entered the complex. One of the protesters shouted, "The BBC should be ashamed. How can you give a platform to Nazis?" But an audience member arriving for the show told the newspaper, "I'm going to go in and find out what Nick Griffin has got to say. I don't have to agree with it, but I think it's right that he is allowed on Question Time. I think everybody is entitled to their own opinion, even if you don't like them."
BRONFMAN, MESSIER ORDERED TO STAND TRIAL IN FRANCE
Edgar Bronfman Jr. and Jean-Marie Messier have been ordered to stand trial in France on charges of stock manipulation. A ruling by Judge Jean-Marie d'Huy in Paris today (Thursday) came as a surprise after prosecutors had called for the case against the two to be dismissed. As head of Vivendi, Messier engineered the buyout of Seagram, the Canadian spirits company founded by the Bronfman family that then owned Universal Studios and Universal Records -- an expansion that saddled the French company with such heavy debt that it nearly collapsed under its weight.