ACTOR FOX'S ADS HURTING GOP, SAYS STUDY

Michael J. Fox's political commercials supporting embryonic stem cell research may be harming Republicans according to a study conducted earlier this week and reported today (Friday) by CNSNews.com, a unit of the conservative Media Research Center. According to the study by HCD Research and Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion, support for such research increased from 78 percent overall to 83 percent after those surveyed viewed the ad by Fox, whose Parkinson's symptoms are apparent in it. The survey also concluded that Republican respondents' support for a Republican candidate decreased by 10 percent after seeing the ad while Independents' support for Democrats grew by 10 percent. Meanwhile, in an appearance on the CBS Evening News Thursday, Fox denied that charges by conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh that he had stopped taking his medications in order to exaggerate his Parkinson's symptoms. The medication, he pointed out, counteracts the rigidity of Parkinson's and allows him to speak. "The irony of it is that I was too medicated," he told anchor Katie Couric. Would you support a Republican candidate?" Couric asked later. "I've campaigned for Arlen Specter," the Republican Senator from Pennsylvania who supports stem-cell research." (Fox also portrayed a conservative preppie on the long-running Family Ties TV series.)

NETWORKS REFUSE TO AIR ADS FOR DIXIE CHICKS DOCUMENTARY

NBC and the new CW network have refused to carry ads for Shut Up & Sing, the documentary about the Dixie Chicks' opposition to the war in Iraq, which opens this weekend in Los Angeles and New York, according to the film's distributor, the Weinstein Co. "It's a sad commentary about the level of fear in our society that a movie about a group of courageous entertainers who were blacklisted for exercising their right of free speech is now itself being blacklisted by corporate America," Harvey Weinstein said in a statement. Today's (Friday) Daily Variety reported that while NBC has acknowledged that the spots were declined because they are "disparaging" to President Bush, the CW maintains that it did not reject them. A spokesman for the CW told the trade paper: "We were told they were not going to make a national spot buy on CW." Reviews of the movie indicate that the film takes a strong stance against the president. "Clips of Bush make him see callous," writes Ann Powers in the Los Angeles Times. Anti-Chicks "protesters come off as foolish; one demands that her tiny, puzzled son repeat an expletive directed at the Chicks." (The spurned ads have been posted on the Internet at www.shutupandpost.com.)

COMCAST SAYS COMPETITION FROM SATELLITE OPERATORS HELPS

Competition from satellite operators forced cable companies to invest in infrastructure that added Internet and phone service to their basic TV offerings -- features the satellite companies have not been able to provide effectively, Comcast Chairman Brian Roberts said Thursday as the company reported better-than-expected results in the third quarter. Comcast said that revenue from broadband Internet services increased 22 percent to $1.4 billion during the quarter, while phone service rose a whopping 51 percent to $252 million.

ONLINE TV VIEWING RISING

Ten percent of online consumers are now watching TV shows on their computers and two thirds of those are watching network newscasts, according to the Consumer Internet Barometer, produced by the research group The Conference Board. In a CIB study, reported in today's (Friday) Los Angeles Daily News, half of those surveyed said that they go online to catch up on such primetime shows as Desperate Housewives on ABC, the CSI dramas on CBS, and The Office on NBC, with ABC receiving the greatest number of hits.The primary reasons for online viewing: personal convenience, "portability," and fewer commercials.

VIEIRA SCORES INTERVIEW WITH MADONNA

The Today show's Meredith Vieira has landed an exclusive interview with Madonna, which is schedule to air on the morning program next Wednesday and Thursday. Parts of the interview will also be telecast on Dateline NBC on Wednesday night. Madonna is expected to discuss the controversies over the crucifixion number for her November 22 concert special that was censored by NBC and her recent adoption of a Malawian boy. Meanwhile, the latest Nielsen ratings of the morning shows have indicated that ABC's Good Morning America saw its audience rise against NBC's Today show last week as Diane Sawyer continued her reports from North Korea. According to the Nielsen figures, 5.66 million viewers watched Today, while 4.93 million tuned in to GMA.

FCC TURNS AWAY CHALLENGE BY SCHWARZENEGGER OPPONENT

The FCC on Thursday ruled that Jay Leno's recent interview with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was a legitimate news interview and that NBC was therefore not required to offer equal to time to Phil Angelides, his Democratic opponent in next week's gubernatorial election. In response, a spokesman for Angelides said, "We are disappointed but not surprised that the Bush-controlled FCC has made a political decision over the use of our public airwaves." Currently three Republicans and two Democrats sit on the commission.

Brian B.