CNN officials have kissed and made up with Yugoslavia.
After meeting with top officials in Belgrade on Friday, Eason Jordan, president of CNN's international networks, said that he'll be able to double the number of reporters in Yugoslavia and bring in equipment for live transmission of stories. CNN correspondents were among the first to be kicked out of Belgrade when the NATO bombing of Kosovo began in March.
"We called for an end to this Yugoslav propaganda campaign against CNN--calling for the leadership of CNN to be tried for war crimes, calling us a factory of lies," Jordan told The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz. "The leadership here really had great distaste for CNN." He argued that Cable News Network, which is carried in Yugoslavia, tries to report the news fairly and is not an arm of NATO.
After "extremely spirited and combative meetings" with Yugoslav Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic and Serbian President Milan Milutinovic, Jordan says CNN will be able to keep a crew in the Kosovo capital of Pristina as well as in Belgrade. He said the network lost $1 million worth of satellite equipment to confiscation and NATO bombing but will be allowed to bring in new equipment for live reports.
WB has decided to air its "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" season finale next month, though it has not set an exact date. But some "Buffy" fans have already seen it, via a bootlegged version making the rounds on the Internet.
When WB announced at the eleventh hour that the finale would not air May 25, as scheduled, it had already been broadcast in Canada. Within hours, some computer-savvy Canadians had posted the episode on Web sites to help out south-of-the-border fans. The show's availability was publicized through various online groups.
The finale features the show's heroine, Buffy Summers, leading her classmates, armed like medieval warriors, in a battle against the town mayor--who has morphed into a 60-foot-long serpent that wants to devour the graduating high school class.
WB delayed the episode because the students were depicted as hiding crossbows and wooden stakes and engaging in violence. The network feared that if a violent incident occurred at any school graduation ceremony, "Buffy" might be blamed.
"First and foremost our actions were to protect the 'Buffy' franchise," explained WB Senior Vice President Brad Turrell. "We did not want [the show] to be anywhere close to something that only two months ago was unthinkable," he said, referring to the Littleton, Colo., shootings in April that left 14 students and one teacher dead.
Had any graduation ceremony turned violent, "the media would have replayed the clip from the TV show over and over and over again," Turrell said. "We felt it was best to move it away from May 15-June 15, which is when 100 percent of the cap-and-gown ceremonies happen in this country," he explained.
July is also a sweeps month, when ratings are used to set ad rates, but it's considered much less important than the in-season sweeps, including May, from which the finale was pulled.
A former Texas TV station executive who rigged a contest so that his mother-in-law would win a pickup truck was given 60 days in jail, fined $10,000 and ordered to wear a sign declaring him to be "a liar, a coward and a thief," the Associated Press reported.
Tim Edward Trostle, 41, former promotions manager at KNWS-TV in Katy, Tex., was convicted of organized criminal activity. District Judge Mark Kent Ellis has ordered him to attend the Sept. 25 football game between Rice University and the U.S. Naval Academy while wearing the sign. The $27,000 truck was given away during a Rice football game last season.
Prosecutor Russel Turbeville said Trostle had stuffed some of the dealership boxes with the name of his mother-in-law, Pamela Jones, and some of his friends, to give them a shot at picking the key that would start the truck. After Jones's name was drawn, he later told her which key to select, according to press reports.
Cable news networks took a hit in May after being propelled to record heights in April with coverage of the Littleton shootings.
In prime time, CNN averaged 686,000 viewers, vs. 1.26 million in April. MSNBC fell from April's 462,000 average to 243,000 viewers. Fox News Channel logged audiences of 230,000 in May and 343,000 in April. And business news channel CNBC averaged 413,000 viewers in May vs. 502,000 in April.
Compared with last May, however, most performances are even or better. CNN has virtually the same number of prime-time viewers as in May '98; MSNBC is up 91 percent. Fox News Channel grew 150 percent, though CNBC is down 10 percent.
On a 24-hour basis, CNN's 397,000-viewer average in May is down 42 percent from April, but up 21 percent compared with last May. Fox News Channel's 114,000-viewer average is 30 percent lower than in April but 153 percent better than last May. MSNBC, with 162,000 viewers, is 46 percent shy of April's numbers but 76 percent better than those of May '98. And CNBC, averaging 291,000 viewers, dipped 10 percent compared with April, but climbed 18 percent vs. last May.