news digest


MSNBC bucks '06 down trend for cable news

NEW YORK — MSNBC finished 2006 stronger in the ratings than it did in 2005, the only one of the four news channels to show a year-over-year increase in total-day and primetime viewership. Fox News Channel remains by far the leader in cable news but had the steepest declines, with a 14% drop in total-day viewership compared with 2005 and a 20% decline in primetime, according to Nielsen Media Research. CNN and Headline News also showed year-over-year declines.

YouTube struggles with filters

DENVER — YouTube is finding out firsthand how difficult content identification and filtering technology can be. The company fell short on its promise to implement the technology by year's end. According to a Financial Times article, media companies that have licensing deals with YouTube — such as Warner Music Group and CBS — still are relying on "low-tech systems" to identify when their content is being used by YouTube members. The ability to recognize when users are posting or incorporating copyrighted work is considered a central component to the deals YouTube has struck with the media companies.

FX's 'Dirt' digs a solid premiere

FX's "Dirt" got off to a good start Tuesday night. The scripted drama series, starring Courteney Cox as a tabloid magazine editor, averaged 3.4 million total viewers and 2.1 million adults 18-49 in its commercial-free debut at 10 p.m., according to Nielsen Media Research. The show also built significantly on its lead-in, the basic cable premiere of "Spider-Man 2," which averaged 2.4 million total viewers and 1.4 million adults 18-49 from 7-10 p.m. An encore airing of the "Dirt" premiere at 11:03 p.m. Tuesday garnered an additional 1.6 million total viewers and another 1 million adults 18-49.

SAG Awards auction begins today

The SAG Awards today will kick off its seventh annual eBay auction to benefit the SAG Foundation at The monthlong weekly auction series features television and movie memorabilia, red-carpet bleacher seats and VIP backstage tours for the ceremony that takes place Jan. 28 at the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center. The SAG Foundation helps to contribute to the literacy of children, provides emergency relief to members and aids video and audio preservation of the creative legacy of SAG members.

CBS' Axelrod moonlights on 'Saturday'

NEW YORK — CBS News said Wednesday that chief White House correspondent Jim Axelrod will moonlight on "The Saturday Early Show" with a three-week stint beginning Jan. 13. Axelrod will be a temporary co-anchor with Tracy Smith following Saturday's departure of Russ Mitchell. Mitchell, who was the original co-anchor when the show started in August 1997, is leaving "Saturday Early Show" to become the news anchor of CBS' "The Early Show."

'Intern' opportunity for 'Apprentice' fans

In conjunction with Sunday's Season 6 premiere of NBC's "The Apprentice," Yahoo! Inc. on Wednesday launched "The Intern," a weekly online contest allowing fans to compete for the chance to shadow this season's winner by sharing their "Apprentice" knowledge online. Located on the "Apprentice's" site at, the competition is accompanied by exclusive webisodes and unaired footage. Yahoo! and are giving viewers a sneak peek of the new season by streaming the first 20 minutes of the premiere online.
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