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Wednesday, May 09

The Morning Newsfeed: 05.09.07

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09hbo.395.jpgAfter Arrest, HBO Chief Takes Leave of Absence (NYT)
The chairman and chief executive of HBO, Chris Albrecht, announced that he was taking a leave of absence after being charged with assaulting a girlfriend in a Las Vegas parking lot early Sunday. Albrecht said that he was an alcoholic and that the incident, which he did not characterize, had resulted from a lapse in his sobriety. LAT: In 1991, Albrecht was charged with battering a subordinate he dated. LAT: Albrecht's memo to HBO employees.

Katie's Ratings in Freefall (AP)
It surely wasn't what CBS dreamed about when Katie Couric was hired: the CBS Evening News last week recorded its smallest audience since and probably many years before that. It also didn't help that the average of 6.05 million viewers came at the beginning of the important May ratings "sweeps." DISCUSS: Will Katie survive?

New Law & Order Episodes May Move to TNT (B&C)
NBC Universal is considering a scenario in which original episodes of the low-rated but highly lucrative Law & Order would shift from NBC to TNT after this season, with production continuing at a drastically reduced price. Multiple sources say TNT, which remains heavily reliant on the show's reruns, first proposed the idea of picking up the originals several months ago.


Data Says 2.5 Million Less Watching TV (AP)
Maybe they're outside in the garden. They could be playing softball. Or perhaps they're just plain bored. In TV's worst spring in recent memory, a startling number of Americans drifted away from television the past two months: More than 2.5 million fewer people were watching ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox than at the same time last year, statistics show.

Combined Thomson-Reuters Would Challenge Bloomberg (NYT)
Thomson, the Canadian electronic information company, on Tuesday sketched out the broad details of its $17.5 billion offer for the Reuters Group, the financial and general news service. Although the bid was expected, the announcement did contain one surprise: the current chief executive of Reuters, Thomas Glocer, would head the combined operation, which would be called Thomson-Reuters.

NYT Managing Editor Jill Abramson in Traffic Accident (NYO)
Memo yesterday from executive editor Bill Keller: "Jill Abramson was involved in a traffic accident this morning, and is in the emergency ward at Bellevue Hospital. She is conscious (in fact, she managed to be both funny and stoic through her morphine haze, so the essential Jill seems to be intact) but she has a badly broken leg and is being checked for other injuries." Page Six: A private sanitation truck ran over Abramson's foot. Cops say no one did anything illegal and the driver won't be charged.

Dow Jones Newsrooms Campaign to Sink the Murdoch Bid (NYO)
Sure, Wall Street Journal reporters aren't donning black armbands and streaming out of 200 Liberty Street in lockstep, but the letter-writing campaign to Bancroft family members thought to be getting the hard sell from Murdoch keeps growing. So far, according to multiple Journal staffers, at least 60 reporters and editors have taken part. NY Sun: Murdoch gave a public hint of his confidence in his bid for the Wall Street Journal in the form of a joke he didn't finish in accepting the Manhattan Institute's Alexander Hamilton Award. Slate: Jack Shafer has eight more reasons to distrust Rupe. Salon: Murdoch's bid to take over the Wall Street Journal is a dramatic illustration of why public ownership is a disaster for newspapers.

Couple Charged With Insider Trading Over News Corp. Bid for Dow Jones (NYP)
A wealthy Hong Kong family led by Chinese telephone tycoon Michael Leung has been drawn into an insider-trading scandal involving a recent $5 billion bid for Dow Jones. FishbowlNY: The complaint alleges that between April 13 and April 30, Kan King Wong and Charlotte Ka On Wang Leong purchased 415,000 shares of Dow Jones common stock — at a cost of over $15,000,000 — engaged in "widespread and unlawful trading" and "are in a position to yield" over $8 million in profits.

Old Media Turns Combative Against New Media (Reuters)
Leading media executives took a combative tone against Internet companies on Tuesday, suggesting that "big media" increasingly considers new content distributors like Google Inc. to be more foe than friend. At a panel discussion on the second day of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association conference, top executives said talk of the demise of traditional media was overblown.

Seventeen Across Cultures (WWD)
Hearst gathered the editors of Seventeen's 13 international editions to discuss challenges and trends at their titles. Editors said that, for the most part, American or British celebrities work best on their covers. There were a few exceptions — Seventeen India features mostly Bollywood stars, and Seventeen Turkey was launched in June with international celebrities, but now sells more copies with local faces.

Paul Steiger Did What? (BusinessWeek)
Jon Fine: I can understand, even if I don't particularly agree, why Steiger might decide his corporate role at Dow Jones in this case superseded his job as the paper's top journalist. What I have a harder time understanding is that several other top editors — who have less lofty corporate roles within the company — knew about the memo, also. But no one managed to issue a well-timed whisper or two. CJR Daily: We can stop wondering whether the Wall Street Journal would allow Rupert Murdoch to screw up its editorial judgment. That already happened, writes Dean Starkman. DISCUSS: Was WSJ right in holding news of Rupe's bid?

Virtual Child-Sex Scandal on Second Life (Guardian)
German prosecutors have launched an investigation to find anonymous participants of the online computer game Second Life, who are reportedly buying sex with other players posing as children, as well as offering child pornography for sale. Second Life is an Internet-based virtual world with at least 6 million players, where you can choose your appearance, age, gender and color.

Time Honors 'Most Influential' (NYP)
It started more as a one-time marketing gimmick, but now the Time 100 list of "most influential people in the world" has become an annual event, one that gave some gravitas last night to a glitzy, black-tie dinner overlooking Central Park. Of the 100 honorees, 36 showed up at Time Warner Center's Jazz at Lincoln Center and listened to music by Youssou N'Dour and honoree John Mayer.

The Cult of Bob Barker (WaPo)
Hank Stuever: The Price Is Right without Bob Barker could mean something profound to a lard-butt nation. Either he gets a life or you do. Barker is 83 now. He's essentially the longest, oldest, most continuous anything on the air. "What are you going to do after [you retire]?" an audience member shouts out during a commercial. "Well, I plan to do a little more drinking," Barker deadpans.

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