New SMH editor? Peter Fray, editor of the Canberra Times, was not answering his phone last week when we were trying to ring him to ask if he was a frontrunner for the job of editing the Sydney Morning Herald. This morning, though, we finally got through. Is he a front runner? “The only poll that counts is the one on election day,” he said. Ho ho. — Margaret Simons

NBC is looking at ways to cut the prime-time schedule. NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker told financial analysts on Monday that the ailing NBC network is exploring the possibility of reducing its prime-time schedule. NBC has had a terrible start to the 2008-09 ratings battle. It is fourth-place and ratings are down 13% so far this season. Besides raising the question of broadcasting less, Zucker revealed that the network had joined the ranks of the American job cutters by axing 500 positions through a major reorganisation. It is aimed at cutting $US500 million in costs out of the business as quickly as possible.

The move though to cut broadcasting hours in prime time is the most radical. US Networks don’t broadcast continuously or own all their stations, as they do in Australia. There is a mixture of company-owned and affiliate stations. There is a mixture of network (early morning programs) and prime time from the national news broadcasts, then islands of networked material in the evening.

US reports say that none of NBC’s four new fall series have worked. Viewers are ignoring My Own Worst Enemy and Knight Rider. Its popular Heroes has been a ratings disappointment in its third season and has bombed in markets like Australia.

Zucker was reported as saying that there needs to be a major change at its 10 owned-and-operated local TV stations, which have been hard-hit by a decline in advertising, especially from the auto sector. He was quoted as saying: “We’re in an era where if we don’t change the models of these local TV stations, we will be newspapers, we will be car companies,” he said. “I don’t want to be a company that files for bankruptcy,” he was quoted as saying.

That’s a thought that shouldn’t be ignored in Australia. — Glenn Dyer

Ken Henry is having an off the record briefing on tax today. They have invited three journos from the SMH, three from The Age, four from the AFR, and one from the Canberra Times as well as one each from the TV networks, Sky, The West Australian and each of the wires. The entire News Ltd contingent is two from The Australian and one each from the Tele and the Courier Mail – four in total. No one from the Herald-Sun has got a spot. So according to Treasury, the entire News Ltd stable of papers equals the AFR! Payback for the leaked Stevens email? Or a guaranteed way to ensure sh-t coverage in the national broadsheet and the entire News Ltd stable? 

Bleed all about it. In most ways, Monday was just an ordinary day for the newspaper business. Which is to say that everything was going straight to hell. The New York Times Co, running low on cash, took its brand-new building to the pawnshop, borrowing $225m against the value of its white elephant. Executives at the McClatchy chain were wondering what to do next after they put the Miami Herald up for sale — and found no takers. And at the Cox papers, which include such venerable titles as the Austin American-Statesman and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, folks were mourning the recently announced closure of the company’s Washington bureau.

It would have taken a lot for things to get any worse. Soon enough, though, they did. On Monday afternoon, Tribune Co, staggering under $13bn in debt, sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, which will keep its creditors at bay while it reorganises. The company, which owns two of the country’s largest newspapers, the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, as well as a passel of other papers, television stations and even the Chicago Cubs baseball team, has now reached a perilous moment in its fight for survival. The Tribune bankruptcy says a lot about the frightening state of the newspaper business, which is cratering under the weight of such new-media phenomena as blogs and Craigslist.The Guardian

Chicago Tribune editor says: Prosecutors asked us to delay stories on Blagojevich. The Chicago Tribune‘s editor, Gerould Kern, issued a statement today on how the paper had held certain stories about Illinois Governor Blagojevich during the ongoing federal investigation into his activities. It was revealed earlier today, as part of the indictment of Blagojevich, that the governor was playing hardball with the paper over its need for financial assistance. — Huffington Post

Wikipedia victory in Scorpions censorship row. Britain has its own issues with child p-rnography and censorship. The UK Internet Watch Foundation had blocked a Wikipedia page with a picture of 1970s German band Scorpion’s album Virgin Killer cover depicting a nude child — causing millions of people to deliberatly seek out the image. The IWF reversed their decision yesterday, admitting blocking the site was counter-productive. — Times Online

Using Google maps to enter reports of strange smells. People in Japan who enjoy sharing news about odors can use Nioibu.com to mark their location and circumstances. A few examples: watermelon smell, ferret odor, old lady stench, gasoline fumes, and curry. — Boing Boing

Taking your money anyway. This advertisement says:

You probably thought it was smart to buy a foreign import of superior quality, with better mileage and resale value. Maybe you even thought that years of market share loss might prod us into rethinking our process and redesigning our products with better quality in mind. But you forgot one thing: We spent a shitload of money on lobbyists. So now you’re out $25 billion, plus the cost of your Subaru. Maybe next time you’ll buy American like a real man. Either way, we’re cool.

The Beast