NBC CONTENT GOES DOWN THE 'TUBE

NBC on Monday confirmed that it had indeed closed down its "channel" on YouTube over the weekend, insisting that the channel was merely "promotional." The network said that it had done so in preparation for the impending launch of Hulu, a video website in which it is partnering with News Corp's Fox TV. Although NBC declined to confirm a precise launch date for Hulu it said that it still expects to unveil a beta version by the end of the month, as previously announced. Meanwhile, YouTube on Monday described its relationship with NBC as a "success story" and expressed hope that NBC will decide to "stay engaged with our users."

FBN ALREADY EATING INTO CNBC'S AUDIENCE

Although Fox Business Network has indicated that it does not intend to release ratings information during its first six months of operations, some cable watchers have noted that ratings for competitor CNBC fell during the first four days of FBN's presence on the scene. According to figures from Nielsen Research, the average number of CNBC viewers dropped to 257,000 from 293,000 the week before, a 12-percent drop. On the other hand, CNBC noted that it had actually improved its ratings among adults 25 to 54.

NO "VIVA" LEFT IN LAUGHLIN

Viva Laughlin, the hybrid musical/drama that CBS launched on Thursday, Oct. 18, and then moved into what was expected to be its regular slot three days later on Sunday, has now been yanked from the network's schedule altogether. It thereby became the first scripted show of the new season airing on any of the Big 4 networks to be shot down. (Analysts have observed that the networks have been loath to pull even their worst performing new shows, figuring that even they are likely to perform better than reruns should a strike by the Writers Guild of America occur.) CBS said that it plans to return The Amazing Race to its schedule on Sundays, during the time period being vacated by Laughlin.

ABC NEWS TO CHECK BACKGROUNDS OF CONSULTANTS MORE CLOSELY

In a memo to staff, ABC News President David Westin has indicated that a second internal investigation into former terror consultant Alexis Debat, who was fired last June, had found no further instances in which Debat had lied about his sources. "Moreover, we confirmed with Mr. Debat's confidential sources that they had given him the information as he'd claimed in contributing to our reports," Westin said. While noting that ABC investigators had found some minor discrepancies in Debat's reports, none of them was material to the substance of the reports. Nevertheless, Westin added, as a result of the Debat incident, both the News Practices team and ABC's Human Resources Department will jointly review claims of prior employment and educational history. (Debat had claimed to have a doctorate degree; he did not.)

WGA MAY PULL WRITERS OFF CBS NEWS SHOWS

The Writers Guild of America has set a strike authorization vote for Nov. 15 and 16 among its 500 members who are employed by CBS News, including news writers, editors, and desk assistants. WGA writers have been working without a contract for 2 1/2 years while talks with management have remained at an impasse. In a statement, WGA East President Michael Winshop accused CBS of cheapening "the crowning legacy of Edward R. Murrow and his colleagues" by refusing "to offer our dedicated, knowledgeable, hard-working members a fair and respectful contract."

ADDING TO STRIKE THREAT: FIRE THREAT

The Southern California wildfires have disrupted TV production of several shows at a time when studios are running at full bore in anticipation of a possible writers' strike. The Santa Clarita Studios where such shows as NCIS and The Unit are filmed were said to be threatened by the flames and were receiving regular reports of evacuations in the area. However, production of 24, which shoots at converted aircraft hangars in the former El Toro Naval Air Station near Irvine, had to delay production after authorities blocked roads leading to the site and smoke became so thick that even those who arrived early were forced to leave. Sets for CBS' Cold Case were blown down by the strong winds. Crew members living in fire areas saw their commutes to production sites elsewhere lengthened, often by hours, due to clogged freeways and blocked roads. Several of them elected not to show up for work at all in case it became necessary to protect their homes.

Brian B.