MSNBC REMOVES OLBERMANN, MATTHEWS AS ELECTION ANCHORS

In an apparent effort to dispel criticism, some of it internal, that it is attempting to become the news channel of the left, MSNBC is removing Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews as election anchors and replacing them with David Gregory. In an interview with the New York Times MSNBC President Phil Griffin observed that the channel's increasing display of so-called advocacy journalism has become "the great philosophical debate" within the media but that "the bottom line is that we're experiencing incredible success." On the other hand, an unnamed senior staff member told the newspaper, "They're living from fix to fix and swearing they'll go into rehab the next week."

NETS RAISE $100 MILLION TO FIGHT CANCER

The three major broadcast networks donated an hour of primetime on Friday to a "Stand Up to Cancer" telethon and raised more than $100 million for cancer research as a result, the Entertainment Industry Foundation, which organized the telethon said Sunday. The telethon, which featured performances by numerous recording artists, television entertainers, and film stars, was hosted by the anchors of all three networks Katie Couric, Charles Gibson, and Brian Williams. The audience was fairly evenly divided among the networks, with ABC drawing 3.81 million viewers; NBC, 3.32 million; and CBS, 3.16 million -- a total of 10.29 million. The telethon was also carried by E! Entertainment channel. (Ratings for the cable channel were not immediately available.).

MICROSOFT DEFENDS SEINFELD ADS

If viewers were left wondering what the discount shoe store commercial featuring Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates was supposed to be advertising, well, that's what the commercial was intended to do, according to Microsoft marketing executives. In an interview with Computerworld magazine Brad Brooks, head of Windows marketing for Microsoft, said that the purpose was to "engage customers in a conversation and dialogue in a humorous and intriguing way." However, advertising analysts insisted that the commercial was neither very humorous nor intriguing. It was "beyond bizarre," AdWeek magazine critic Barbara Lippert commented. Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Maria Russo observed that some of the ad's jokes rely on "unfunny, far-fetched details" and that some of them go "thunk." Russo's commentary concludes, "This commercial pulls none of the emotional strings that might have helped Microsoft 'reconnect' with its audience (not that I remember ever being connected to it). And a decade after Seinfeld, 'nothing' feels empty."

ANALOG STATIONS IN WILMINGTON, NC TO TEST SWITCHOVER TODAY

Wilmington, NC was cleaning up damage from Hurricane Hanna and preparing to become the first TV market in the country to shut down its analog TV transmitters and switch to digital. Government officials, including FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, and broadcast executives have flown to the city to participate in a two-hour ceremony marking the switchover test and to get a first-hand view of how it proceeds. The rest of the country is due to go all digital on Feb. 17, 2009.

PTC CLAIMS CW FAILED TO SHOW SEXY SCENE TO AD BUYERS

The Parents Television Council, the group that has effectively campaigned for a crackdown on what it regards as rising indecent material on television, has accused the CW network of editing a titillating scene into the opening episode of 90210 after the episode was previewed for ad buyers. The group said that it plans to contact advertisers to urge them to withdraw from sponsorship of future episodes. The CW denied the charge, saying in a statement: "The suggestion that we edited controversial material into the show at the last minute is as ridiculous as it is inaccurate."

BERLUSCONI MAY BUY BRITAIN'S LARGEST NETWORK

Shares in ITV, the largest commercial network in Britain, jumped as high as 6.6 percent today (Mondah) after Italy's Mediaset expressed interest in buying it. Mediaset, Italy's largest network, is controlled by Silvio Berlusconi,the country's prime minister. In an interview with the London Daily Telegraph, Mediaset director Gina Nieri said that while Mediaset is looking at a number of possible acquisitions, including ITV there are "no real negotiations" going on now.

SOUTH PARK LAMBASTED IN RUSSIA, TOO

Moscow prosecutors have filed a "claim" against a Russian TV station over an episode of South Park following a protest by the Russian Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith. Reuters quoted Konstantin Bendas, leader of the group, as calling for a ban on the animated series because "it insults the feelings of religious believers and incites religious and national hatred." Unlike the U.S., where South Park airs on cable's Comedy Central network, South Park is carried by the over-the-air channel 2x2 in Moscow and St. Petersburg. "It's one thing if they are on cable TV and viewers pay money and make a conscious choice," Bandas said. "But young children should not be able to turn on the TV after school and watch this. They need to be defended."

Brian B.