Tuning in to TV: Paris Jackson sits down for talk with Oprah

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As Scott Pelley marks his first year as anchor of the “CBS Evening News,” he’s got his eye on the top of the mountain.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence that we’re going to bring this broadcast to No. 1,” said Mr. Pelley, whose first evening newscast was June 6, 2011.

That definitely would be an achievement for CBS News, where the division’s signature broadcast has been a consistent third behind NBC and ABC dating back to the late 1990s — through anchors Dan Rather, Bob Schieffer, Katie Couric and now Mr. Pelley.

He still has a way to go, but the trend line is positive. According to the Associated Press, his newscast has averaged 6.03 million viewers a night during the past year, up from 5.72 million for the previous year, according to the Nielsen company. Ratings leader Brian Williams at NBC’s “Nightly News” has seen his average audience slip from 8.65 million to 8.49 million in the same period. ABC’s “World News,” anchored by Diane Sawyer, went from 7.68 million to 7.53 million.

Mr. Pelley said his first priority was to set a new tone for the newscast, wanting it to be a place where a viewer could tune in and feel connected to the most important stories in the world each day. It has concentrated heavily on jobs and the economy, and now the European economic crisis, said Patricia Shevlin, the broadcast’s executive producer.

Mr. Pelley said he believes the broadcast has improved in all facets and tapped into a reservoir of talent at CBS News.

“These folks needed a little bit of direction,” Mr. Pelley said. “They needed to know where we were headed and once we communicated that to them, they have performed magnificently.”

New series to give bunker to winning survivalist

The Spike television network is airing a competition this fall to award a fortified bunker to a family that believes the end of the world is near.


The network said Tuesday that its six-episode series called “Last Family on Earth” will feature survivalists competing to show how tough and resourceful they are. The winner gets an underground bunker in an undisclosed location.

Sharon Levy, executive vice president of original programming at Spike, said the series doesn’t necessarily coincide with the theory that the ancient Mayan civilization predicted the end of the world will arrive in December 2012.

Ms. Levy said polls show that many people believe that there will be some catastrophic event like an earthquake or epidemic that threatens civilization, and these are the people who will participate in the show.

“We don’t think there’s anything funny about that,” Ms. Levy said. “We think it’s a very interesting segment of the population that is very prepared, is highly intelligent. These are regular people.

“We’re taking it very seriously,” she said. “We know they’re taking it very seriously, and we think it’s going to be incredibly riveting.”

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