America Online announced its titanic takeover of Time Warner Inc. last week, but from the look of a new AOL promotional illustration, you'd think it was swallowing WRC-TV (Channel 4) and CBS, too.
The graphic promotes AOL TV, a forthcoming service that will enable users to chat, get e-mail and surf the Internet on a TV set--while simultaneously watching television. The illustration shows Channel 4 anchors Susan Kidd and Doug McKelway sitting behind their anchor desk. CBS's famous eye logo appears in the lower-right corner. And the AOL logo and AOL TV options run down the left side.
Several problems here: McKelway and Kidd work for WRC, an NBC station, not CBS. And no one at AOL bothered to ask for permission to use the images.
AOL handed out the illustration to reporters and other interested parties at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas two weeks ago. And that's how McKelway, Kidd et al. found themselves appearing in Newsweek magazine's Jan. 17 issue, illustrating a column about technology developments.
Linda Sullivan, Channel 4's general manager, was not amused.
Concerned that AOL was using copyrighted material, Sullivan got busy. "As soon as I saw it, I brought it to the attention of our legal department," she said yesterday, sounding ominous but declining to comment further.
No harm intended, says AOL. Andrew Weinstein, a company spokesman, says the company called WRC yesterday to apologize, and to say it was withdrawing the illustration, after getting an inquiry from The Post. "The wrong logo was superimposed" onto the picture of the newscasters, he said.
But isn't the issue using someone else's picture to sell AOL's service? Weinstein was unapologetic about that. "If you're demonstrating how this works, you have to show it with a traditional TV program," said Weinstein.
CAPTION: The picture that offends, from the Jan. 17 Newsweek.