NBC LOSING PIRACY WAR, ZUCKER ADMITS

Declaring that "the unfortunate truth is that today we are losing the battle" against Internet piracy, NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker asked members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to unite with the entertainment industry in an effort to combat the threat. Zucker cited a new study by the Institute for Policy Innovation, founded by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, which claimed that intellectual property piracy is a $60-billion-a-year enterprise, costing the economy 373,000 jobs and $2.6 billion in lost taxes. The Chamber currently is pushing for the creation of an intellectual property enforcement coordinator in the White House. Zucker called for all Internet service providers, university networks, search engines and social-networking sites to install filters to block pirated content. "Technology has been and continues to be an incredibly powerful tool to combat theft," he said. Meanwhile, the techie blog Tech Dirt has faulted the news media for failing to examine carefully what it claims are "inflated" claims and "questionable assumptions" about online piracy made by the entertainment industry.

PICTURE GREAT, PROGRAMS NOT, SAY HDTV OWNERS

While 85 percent of consumers who have purchased high-definition TV sets say that they believe the picture quality is either above average or excellent, just 39 percent are happy with the choice of HDTV programs, according to a new study by Nielsen Research and reported Wednesday by Broadcasting & Cable's website. Nielsen senior vice president Steve McGowan told the trade publication that many of the channels offering HDTV programming and being touted with on-air promos are often not carried in HD by cable and satellite providers. McGowan says that HDTV viewers realize "there's more out there, and it's like, 'Hey, when am I getting this channel [in HD]?'" The survey indicated that 60 percent of HDTV owners receive programming from cable; 31 percent, from satellite; and 6 percent, over the air. The remainder said they did not know who provided their HD programming or wouldn't say who did.

CAVEMEN CLUBBED BY CRITICS

Turning Geico's provocative cavemen commercials into a TV series has apparently proved to be almost as difficult as inventing the wheel. Despite massive hype, ABC's series premiere of Cavemen drew just 8.9 million viewers Tuesday night at 8:00 p.m. By contrast, CBS's long-running NCIS was the top-ranked show in the hour with 16.3 million. The new show, which was not previewed for critics, also took a drubbing from them today (Thursday). Brian Steinberg in Advertising Age suggested that "the network should've just run Geico commercials." He called the initial episode "an ill-conceived, humorless mess." Mary McNamara in today's Los Angeles Times remarked, "If you're going to force us to look at guys made up to look like cavemen, then let them be cavemen, for goodness' sake." She added, "If they are, as the show's intro says, 'just like us,' then what's the point? Don't bother me with cavemen; they're just big, hairy and boring. I'd rather see a show about insurance salesmen." Meanwhile, the critically well-received Pushing Daisies premiered Wednesday with a solid 8.3 rating and a 14 share for ABC, beating NBC's hit game show Deal or No Deal, which drew a 7.1/12.

BRITISH KIDS SHOWS VANISHING, SAYS REGULATOR

OFCOM, the British broadcasting regulator, has warned that British children's programs are being squeezed off the air by American kids shows. In a report, OFCOM observed that the commercial network ITV no longer produces children's programs at all, while Channel Five, another commercial network, has decreased its children's shows 58 percent. In a statement, OFCOM chief Ed Richards called for "a national debate on what measures, if any, can or should be taken" to combat the drain. Only the BBC, the report said, continues to produce a substantial number of kids' shows. In an interview with today's (Thursday) Daily Variety, Jocelyn Hay, chairman of the group Voice of the Listener and Viewer, said, "Unless swift action is taken to retrieve the situation, future generations will grow up with a Disneyfied view not only of the world but of their own culture and history." And in an interview with the London Times, former Monty Python member and film and stage producer Michael Palin commented, "Producing sympathetic, creative, entertaining and informative programs for [children] is a challenge which our broadcasters have risen to with great success. I urge them not to throw away this important opportunity to engage with children. To lose children's TV would be to lose some of our most inventive programs."

IRAQ SHOOTING AND RESCUE FOOTAGE CONFISCATED

American authorities on Wednesday confiscated footage by AP Television News showing scenes of the aftermath of an ambush and bombing in Baghdad in which Poland's ambassador to Iraq was seriously injured and at least three other people were killed. The Associated Press cameraman also filmed the ambassador's rescue by helicopter pilots working for the private Blackwater security firm. AP later reported that it had been told by military authorities that its video footage had been taken because Iraqi law forbids the photography of the aftermath of bombings or other attacks.

ABC APOLOGIZES TO PHILIPPINES FOR HOUSEWIVES REMARK

ABC and the producers of Desperate Housewives apologized today (Thursday) for a remark in last Sunday's episode that appeared to belittle medical professionals from the Philippines. However, the network added, "There was no intent to disparage the integrity of any aspect of the medical community in the Philippines." In the episode, one of the characters, played by Teri Hatcher, remarked to a doctor, "Can I check those diplomas because I just want to make sure that they're not from some med school in the Philippines." The episode drew fire from the executive secretary of the Philippine cabinet, Eduardo Ermita, and the Philippine ambassador to Washington, Willy Goa.

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.