WHO'LL REPLACE SAWYER ON GMA?

While ABC's decision to assign the World News anchor position to Diane Sawyer come January, when Charles Gibson steps down, may have solved one problem, it may have created a more serious one -- filling Sawyer's place on Good Morning America, the New York Times observed today (Friday). It noted that GMA "is by far the most profitable program in the news division," bringing in an estimated $50 million a year, even though it routinely places second behind NBC's Today. In an interview with the newspaper, Richard Wald, who has headed the news divisions of both NBC and ABC, predicted that current ABC news chief David Westin would use Sawyer's departure to "reinvent morning television" and compete more effectively against the Today show. However, another unnamed executive at a competing network commented, "If they want to try to take the show in a whole new direction, who will they get? Bill O'Reilly is not available. If they want to make it more like 'Morning Joe,' Joe Scarborough and Mika Brezinski recently signed long-term deals." Not mentioned in the Times article was the possibility of returning Joan Lunden, who co-hosted GMA for 20 years before stepping down in 1996, to the show.

IMUS TO GET DOWN TO BUSINESS

It's not quite what one would expect from a cable channel that focuses on business news, but Don Imus's Imus in the Morning will move to the Fox Business Network on Oct. 5, the network said Thursday, confirming long-circulating rumors. The telecast -- which puts cameras inside Imus's radio studio -- had been carried recently by the cable network RFD-TV and before that by MSNBC, which fired him for making what were deemed racist/sexist quips about the Rutgers University women's basketball team. Today's (Friday) New York Times observed that while Imus ordinary doesn't make financial news part of his program, he will now "incorporate additional business news" into it. In what the Times referred to as "a gregarious statement," Imus said, "I love Fox. Roger Ailes is the preeminent genius of American broadcasting. Who wouldn't want to do this?"

CUBAN TO NETWORKS: PUT PILOTS ON YOUTUBE

Mark Cuban, who reportedly personally pocketed more than $1 billion when he sold his fledgling Internet company, broadcast.com, to Yahoo in 1999 at the height of the Internet bubble, has proposed that broadcasters use the Internet to gauge the public's interest in new programming. Suggesting that the networks post their pilots on YouTube and Hulu, Cuban writes on his blog, that such an approach, "when combined with some traditional research and analysis could allow broadcast networks to be smarter in choosing which pilots to put on TV." Moreover, he notes, it would also encourage YouTube to promote the pilots and sell advertising on them, sharing revenue with the networks. Unlike most pilots, which never see the light of day, those posted online "would actually generate revenue in addition to awareness prior to a network scheduling decision being made."

FIREFIGHTERS SAVE MT. WILSON TRANSMITTERS

A relentless defense of the billion-dollar transmitter complex atop Mt. Wilson (not to mention the historic observatory) has thus far prevented any significant damage to any of the towers from the raging fire surrounding it in the Angeles National Forest, fire in Southern California, officials said Thursday. Reports indicated that some engineers who were evacuated from the site would likely return today (Friday). Inciweb.org, which has been posting the latest official information about the fire said late Thursday, "Thanks to the hard work done over the past few days Mount Wilson's defensibility has been greatly improved."