Media Briefing for Thursday, November 16, 2006

November 16th, 2006

Political ad spending this election season nearly was double the amount of the last mid-term elections, in 2002, representing $1 billion more than in 2002. Media Week reports.

Every political junkie has seen the 1990s TV ad for former Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, in which a white job applicant has the paper for a proposed job pulled from him by a black hand, with the announcer saying, ?You needed that job.” Now presidential hopeful, Republican Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has hired the consultant who created that ad which critics called racist. The Boston Globe says the consultant is known for his ‘tough? TV ads. But the Hartford Courant says that in Connecticut this year, negative TV ads did not work. The Courant says so in an editorial.

Clear Channel Communications, which owns 1,200 of the most powerful FM and AM radio stations and also a group of TV stations, has agreed to a buyout of nearly $19 billion. AP reports.

The family of Lowry Mays of Clear Channel Communications stands to gain a possible payout of $1 billion in the Clear Channel buyout, according to reports. MSNBC reports.

The Radio Television News Directors Association has sent a petition to the FCC challenging the FCC’s opposition to Video News Reports televised on local TV newscasts, reports created by corporations, with their sources often not identified on the air. The RTNDA site has details.

Can journalists keep a secret? A dozen of them did, on election night, operating in a secret exit polling unit called the Quarantine Room. New York Observer reporter Rebecca Dana has the story.

Local groups either have or are proposing to buy out the local daily newspapers in Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and other cities, from large publicly traded corporations, thus freeing them from the tyranny of having to meet Wall Street projections of ever greater profits every quarter. But the Christian Science Monitor says this could be a double edged sword, since local ownership may compromise editorial independence, with a much increased threat of owners meddling in daily local news coverage. The Christian Science Monitor editorializes.

The Wall Street Journal examines Google’s entry into a wide range of new areas. The Wall Street Journal reports.

After many false reports of imminent service this year, Al Jazeera finally launched its English language service Wednesday, 10 years after launching its Arabic all news channel. AP’s Jim Kranegives a description of what’s on the first day.> McClatchy newspapers say Al Jazeera avoided fireworks on its launch. McClatchy reports. The New York Times says Al Jazeera is ?not coming to a channel near you.” The Times says this is unfortunate for viewers.

Some think the internet is flooded with pornography. Not so, says a study submitted in a major federal court case on this issue. The San Jose Mercury News reports that the study found only 1% of internet pages had porn or explicit erotica.

Is it OK to satirize the pope on television and radio? The Pittsbugh Post Gazette reports that the Vatican thinks not, and is critical.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s it was common in smaller TV markets for stations to have 2 or even 3 network affiliations, and then cherry-pick the best shows. Now, a Louisiana TV station, using digital technology, will present the full schedules of both CBS and NBC. Broadcasting & Cable says the service begins in January.

An activist group is hailing the rerelease of the classic PBS series Eyes On The Prize. The Washington Post reports.

Keeping Score, the acclaimed PBS series aiming to engage new listeners in the enjoyment of classical music, is reviewed by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Post Gazettecolumnist Andrew Druckenbrod notes the series was created by a Leonard Bernstein prot?g?. Sister newspaper Toledo Blade also reviewed the telecast. The Toledo Blade review was published on the first of the month.>

Not all public TV viewers enjoy the lengthy pledge weeks on PBS stations. In the 1980s, a creative director named Caroline Collins, conceived of a way for viewers to avoid the usual August pledge week on PBS’s WGBH channel 2 Boston. The Boston Globe reports she launched a ?pledge free? campaign running in the weeks before August, advising viewers to pledge ahead of time, to avoid pledge week telecasts.

Fox News is denying it paid $2 million to free 2 Fox newspeople from Palestinian terrorists. The Drudge Report> has posted an internal memo from the Fox News operation. WorldNetDaily Editor Joseph Farah stands by the report, saying it is 100% accurate.