Media Briefing for Wednesday, May 7, 2008

May 7th, 2008

Media Briefing for Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Two powerful members of Congress want to know whether news networks bear any culpability related to a U.S. Department of Defense program to recruit ex-military officers to talk up George W. Bush’s Iraq policies, and other policies, on TV, online and elsewhere. Following a story in the New York Times about the program, House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) have asked FCC Chairman Kevin Martin to investigate whether the program may have violated requirements of sponsorship identification. Broadcasting & Cable reports.

Jay Iselin, president of Thirteen/WNET from 1973 to 1987, has passed away at the age of 74. He led WNET during a period of great innovation, and great cuts by the federal government during the 1980s, the years of the Ronald Reagan Revolution. The New York Times reports.

In New York, WNBC channel 4 is considering launching a 24-hour-a-day local news channel, says FTV Live. (paid subscription)

Since the merger with Thomson, the Reuters news service has undergone a shakeup, says Paid Content.

Once again, a video depicting police roughing up a suspect has been captured, this time in Philadelphia. A half-dozen police officers kicked and beat three men pulled from a car during a traffic stop as a TV helicopter taped the confrontation. The video, shot by Philadelphia Fox station WTXF-TV channel 29, shows three police cars stopping a car Monday. This is two days after a city officer was shot to death responding to a bank robbery. The tape shows about a dozen officers gathering around the vehicle. About a half-dozen officers hold two of the men on the ground. Both are kicked repeatedly, while one is seen being punched; one also appears to be struck with a baton. The third man is also kicked and ends up on the ground. Associated Press reports.

V-Me, PBS’ Spanish language channel, is examining additional programming options, says the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The New York Times and MSNBC are joining forces for a new cable show. Yesterday was the debut of The New York Times Special Primary Edition, a new political show hosted by John Harwood whereTimes journalists will handicap the election. From a Times memo, it appears these shows will appear as specials – that is, they won’t run every week, but whenever MSNBC and the paper choose to do it. The New York Observer reports.

Dan Rather has filed an amended lawsuit against CBS, reports the Hollywood Reporter.

Marvin Gaye is featured on tonight’s American Masters on PBS and Thirteen/WNET at 9. The Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel and the New York Daily News review the telecast. The program is also reviewed by the Detroit News and the Buffalo News.

Howard Stern is the top star on satellite radio, says the New York Daily News.

The cellular giant T-Mobile is seeking to build a soaring 100-foot-tall cellphone tower in a wooded patch at the edge of a Framingham, Massachusetts graveyard. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, which owns the cemetery, has approved the plan and agreed to lease the spot to the company. The proposal – which still must be approved by Framingham’s Zoning Board of Appeals – has enraged the Cherry Street Neighborhood Association, a band of several dozen self-appointed guardians who say that installing the planned tower and a surrounding 8-foot-tall fence violates the memories of people buried nearby. The Boston Globe reports.

The Democratic presidential candidates and their supporters bought more television advertising in Indiana and North Carolina ahead of Tuesday’s primary, pleasing stations in both states. The spending spree on behalf of rivals Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton also has been helping TV stations in Louisville, Kentucky, which reaches southern Indiana. However Chicago broadcast stations, which reach northern Indiana, were left behind in favor of local cable purchases. TV Week reports.

The Washington Post examines last night’s Indiana primary coverage on the TV networks.

Last evening, CBS called Indiana early for Hillary Clinton, but remained alone in the very tight race for the entire night, says the New York Times.

A German host was taken off the air after using the Nazi phrase “Arbeit macht frei,” which was posted on the entrance gate to the Auschwitz concentration camp, and means “work makes you free.” Haaretz reports.

TV Guide has a new top editor, says Associated Press.

A nationwide wireless network is being planned, says the New York Times.

The collapse of the Microsoft-Yahoo talks leaves advertisers with less leverage, says Associated Press.

Microsoft’s Bill Gates says Microsoft will follow an independent path after the Yahoo deal collapse, reports the Associated Press.

Bill Gates says “key decisions” at Microsoft’s following the company’s withdrawal of a $47.5 billion bid for Yahoo will be made by CEO Steve Ballmer, says Associated Press.

Associated Press is providing an inside look at Microsoft’s increased bid for Yahoo.

After fending off months of threats by Microsoft Corp., Yahoo’s directors still will have to fight for their jobs as the company’s own irate shareholders plot a mutiny. Spurred by widespread criticism about how Yahoo’s board responded to Microsoft’s sweetened takeover offer of $47.5 billion, an activist shareholder is trying to recruit an alternate slate of directors to present at Yahoo’s annual meeting on July 3. Associated Press reports.

Microsoft may yet own Yahoo, says the San Francisco Chronicle.

Advertisers are finding that on Craigs List.org it’s survival of the sneakiest, says the Sacramento Bee.

Apple is getting a boost from iPhone deals, says Marketwatch.

Does online counseling to save marriages and relationships really work? The Hartford Courant reports.

Spot Runner, which helps marketers buy TV ad spots on local cable and broadcast using its online service, has raised a big $51 million fourth round from an international group of investors with an eye on expansion beyond the U.S. paidContent reports.

E-Marketer looks at the social networking site My Space’s revenues.

Clearwire and Sprint-Nextel are announcing that they have entered into a definitive agreement to combine their WiMax wireless broadband business to form a new company that will have sufficient resources to be a competitive force going forward, reports mocoNews.

Sprint is beefing up its wireless broadband venture, says the Los Angeles Times.

Nearly one out of every four permission-based email messages sent to U.S.-based ISPs lands in the junk mail folder. Slightly more than 76 percent of invited email successfully makes it to the inbox. Media Post.com reports.

Brian T. Keane, who departed Boston technology services firm Keane Incorporated under a cloud two years ago, has resurfaced as chief executive of a private-equity-backed Wakefield, Massachusetts company focused on outsourcing software applications and services to China. The company, which is set to relaunch today under the name Dextrys, seeks to become the leader in a fragmented Chinese technology services market that’s poised for rapid growth. The Boston Globe reports.

Singer Neil Young is tapping the same new technology used in the latest movies and video games to release his archive of music, photos, videos and other memorabilia. Neil Young, in a baseball cap and dark sunglasses, appeared on stage at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco to introduce the Neil Young Archive, report the San Francisco Chronicle and Associated Press.

Apple’s iTunes and Microsoft’s Zune are fighting over TV downloads, says the Los Angeles Times.

A Wall Street Journal reporter played a walk-on role in the Uma Thurman stalking trial, says the Wall Street Journal.

The 77-year-old host of Talk Sex, a call-in show – colorful educator Sue Johanson on the Oxygen cable TV network – is ending the broadcast this week, reports Associated Press.

In Sacramento, the music director of FM station KWOD 106.5, is showcasing Sacramento bands, says the Sacramento Bee.

ABC’s Barbara Walters airs a life of glass ceiling and romances in her new book, says the Washington Post. She broke barrier after barrier, says the San Francisco Chronicle.

Barnes & Noble will sell discounted magazines online, says Folio.

There is still no buyer for Young Broadcasting’s San Francisco MyNetwork TV affiliate KRON channel 4, says the San Jose Mercury News.

Cablevision is buying the Sundance cable channel for $496 million, reports Bloomberg News.

North Carolina U.S. Congressman Mike McIntyre has joined a chorus of lawmakers telling the FCC to back off of the proposed localism mandates, writing a letter to Chairman Kevin Martin. In the letter McIntyre says that the “processing guidelines are, in effect, programming quotas that give certain types of speech the government stamp of approval. The First Amendment was written to prevent this kind of action by our government, and it should prevent the FCC from pushing forward with these old and unnecessary rules.” He adds, “Marketplace incentives have driven FCC policy for the last 25 years, and there is little reason to change that policy today.” A total of 28 senators and about 130 members of the House have written to the Commission with similar concerns. All Access reports. (scroll down)

A suburban Chicago AM radio station, WMCW 1600 Harvard, Illinois, has gone dark. The Kovas Communications-owned all-talk WMCW located in the suburbs west of Chicago, has gone silent, switching off on Saturday. WMCW presently on 1600 AM, has an application to move to 1180 AM in Weston, Wisconsin, near Wausau. The move is part of Kovas’ long-running attempt to improve the coverage of its ethnic WONX-AM in Evanston at 1590 on the dial, which has an application on file to increase from 3,500 to 7.000 watts days. WMCW had been simulcasting the Health Radio Network programming with sister WKKD-AM 1580 Aurora, which has an FCC construction permit to move to Silvis, Illinois (in the Quad Cities market across the state) with 1,400 watts days/1,000 watts nights. All Access reports. (scroll down)