In what amounted to a blistering hardball maneuver, Apple announced on Friday that it will not offer any of NBC's shows for the coming season on its iTunes Music Store. The announcement came in a response to an earlier announcement by NBC that it would not renew its contract with Apple when it expires at the end of the year. But some analysts suggested that NBC's stance was merely a negotiating ploy to force Apple to increase the fees it charges for downloads of the network's programs while still allowing consumers to sample new programs, such as Bionic Woman, Chuck, andJourneyman at their leisure when the shows launch this month. In a statement, Eddy Cue, Apple's ITunes head, said that NBC was demanding an increase in the download charge to $4.99 per episode from the current $1.99. "We are disappointed to see NBC leave iTunes because we would not agree to their dramatic price increase." In response, an NBC spokesman said that Apple's pricing "is designed to drive sales of Apple devices at the expense of those who create the content that make these devices worth buying." (Some critics of the NBC stance immediately pointed out that the greater the number of video iPods sold by Apple, the larger the market for NBC's content.) He added that NBC was seeking "flexibility" in its pricing and the ability to package some episodes together.


ABC has decided not to make the pilot episode of its much-talked-about fall series Pushing Daisiesavailable for previewing on the Internet. Although scenes from the episode will likely be posted on YouTube and other video-sharing websites, ABC marketing chief Michael Benson told the Associated Press that presenting the full episode online could cannibalize the ratings for the actual show. "I have the same approach that Coca-Cola might have when they're launching a product," Benson said. "The idea is to get people to sample a product, then come in and buy more. You don't give a six-pack; you give a sample and hope they'll buy a six-pack if they like it."


CBS's Katie Couric made her first appearance from Iraq on Sunday's Face the NationSunday (she delivers her first reports for the CBS Evening Newsfrom there beginning Tuesday) and said that she "definitely got the impression" that Gen. David Petraeus will say this week that the U.S. "surge" is working. Asked by host Bob Schieffer if she had seen anything that surprised her, she replied, "I was surprised, you know, after I went to eastern Baghdad, I was taken to the Allawi market ... and, you know, this market seems to be thriving. ... And so, you do see signs of life that seem to be normal. Of course, that's what the U.S. military wants me to see, so you have to keep that in mind as well. But I think there are definitely areas where the situation is improving." Meanwhile, Couric's trip continues to generate controversy. In the New York Daily News Sunday, TV columnist David Bianculli likened Couric's visit to the surge: "If she doesn't impress viewers at home with her news-gathering prowess during this week's trip to Iraq and Syria, she and CBS will have lost more than they've gained." St. Petersburg Times columnist and editorial board member Bill Maxwell wondered whether Couric's trip wasn't more about ratings than politics and noted that the network already has correspondent Lara Logan reporting from the war zone. If she has gone there, he wrote, "to enhance her personal stature -- at the risk of being killed, or seriously injured, and leaving her young daughters parentless -- I believe her adventure is selfish and foolish."