“Nightline” Thriving In Late-Night

ABC's venerable news program "Nightline" has managed mostly to fly under the radar -- in an upward trajectory.

Viewership for the news show is up 14 percent in the last six weeks compared with the same week a year ago, and, in the most recent two weeks, the program has frequently grabbed the most viewers of the three shows.


Baucus Watch, Part XII

As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Max Baucus holds the keys to health care reform; any health care legislation must pass through his committee. So what he says or doesn’t say is important to those following the twists and turns of the congressional effort to fix our health care system. This is the twelfth of an occasional series...

paidContent Quick Hits: 7.27.09

»  The New York Times has seen its ad revenue drop at a 30% rate. So the ad-to-circ revenue ratio that was 2-to-1, is now at 1-to-1. [Columbia Journalism Review]

»  Disney (NYSE: DIS) is using a secret lab in Austin, Texas, to turn analyzing web ads into a science. [NY Times]

»  AT&T (NYSE: T) has blocked access to the notorious site 4chan’s /b/ messageboard, and some critics are screaming censorship. [Gawker]

»  Is Google’s “cute” cloud-computing monopoly any better or worse than Microsoft’s desktop variety? [AdAge]

»  Ambassador Media Group, which publishes the Yellow Pages, is filing for Chapter 11. This follows bankruptcy filings by two other directories’ publishers, Idearc Media and R.H. Donnelley. [Crain’s]


Can ‘Good Blogging Seal Of Approval’ Help Mommy Bloggers Avoid The Regulators?

Women’s sites have been among the most successful areas of content on the web, and mommy bloggers have anchored that growth. But mommy bloggers also have an image problem, thanks to some writers who take freebies from the companies they cover. It’s an issue that has now attracted the interest of federal regulators.

In response, a group of “mommy bloggers” has launched a campaign called Blog With Integrity. The nearly 300 signers (of as Monday afternoon) pledged to disclose all “material relationships, policies and business practices,” and clearly differentiate editorial, advertorial and advertising. Unlike the ‘Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, BWI doesn’t have a regulatory board, and will instead police itself. “We hope that we can do justice this idea out of respect for one another,” said Liz Gumbinner, one of the four bloggers spearheading the campaign, tells
AdAge.

“All the press is about ‘Mom blogs are shills, are whores, are taking ‘blogola’ and doing pay-per-post. So we wanted to reframe the discussion,” she said.

BWI is the latest attempt to persuade federal lawmakers and regulators to maintain its largely hands-off approach to the industry, and it comes as women’s sites are one of the few places to see their ad revenues grow in the downturn. Most of the concern on Capitol Hill these days revolves around ad targeting rather than blogger ethics.

An informal, grassroots group like BWI sounds a fine idea for a few hundred bloggers to try to set themselves apart. But if the effort grows larger, they may need an independent overseer to give them credibility and guard against ethics breaches.

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EA’s UTA Deal Nets Its Latest Catch: A Dead Space Movie

Electronic Arts (NSDQ: ERTS) has two sequels to its Dead Space survival thriller in the works, and now there’s a feature film coming down the pike, too. It’s EA’s fifth game to make its way into the back rooms of Hollywood, fruit of the representation deal it signed with talent agency UTA roughly a year ago.

The film hasn’t yet been picked up by a studio, but EA will maintain some creative control—which is a good thing—since the company successfully crafted comics and an animated film to help launch the Dead Space game last year. Disturbia alum D.J. Caruso will direct, and EA will produce with Temple Hill partners Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey (they most recently produced Twilight), per Variety.

This follows news that Spider-Man director Sam Raimi signed on to direct Activision’s long-rumored World of Warcraft movie. Activision (NSDQ: ATVI) CEO Bobby Kotick has expressed interest in launching a tour and TV show around Guitar Hero; we’ll see if the company follows EA’s footsteps and signs a rep deal with an agency like UTA to get those projects off the ground.

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MasterCard Launches ‘Priceless’ iPhone App


YORK, Pa. (AdAge.com) -- There's an app for everything -- and now there's even one for everything else. MasterCard, which has built its marketing around the theme, "There are some things money can't buy. For everything else, there's MasterCard," is extending that strategy with an iPhone app that allows users to upload their own "priceless" favorites into a socially networked nationwide grid.


Samsung Enters E-Reader Market; Hopes To Best Amazon, Sony

Samsung has big ambitions for the pocket-sized e-reader it introduced Monday. “We seek to become a bigger player than Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) or Sony (NYSE: SNE) in the e-book market,” Samsung Electronics VP Lew Jae-young said at a news conference, according to the English-language Korea Herald. But the e-reader, which for now is only available in South Korea, does not match its rivals’ devices, at least feature-wise. There’s no wireless connectivity, at 5 inches the screen is smaller than the 6-inch Kindle 2, and most importantly, content is limited for now to only 2,500 books. ChannelWeb dubs it the “poor man’s Kindle” (Price-wise they’re comparable: The Samsung device costs $270, while the Kindle 2 goes for $299).

Still, Samsung’s entry demonstrates just how much the e-reader market is heating up. According to the WSJ, Samsung plans to show off prototypes of an e-reader for international markets in January and is negotiating with publishers for content. If a Samsung device comes to the United States, it will compete not only with the Kindle and the Sony Reader but also with the Plastic Logic eReader, which landed Barnes & Noble as a partner last week. And in early June, Forrester pegged a number of other device manufacturers—including Panasonic, Palm (NSDQ: PALM), Asus, Lenovo, and LG (SEO: 066570)—as possible future entrants to the market.

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