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Selected Media Coverage: October 19, 2006

Early Returns: Notes From The Campaign Trail
10/19/2006 - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (cir. 238,860)

Big bucks for Couric, but still third place for CBS News
10/18/2006 - Philadelphia Inquirer (cir. 350,457)

SRI LANKA: Blast threatens peace talks next week
10/17/2006 - Australian Broadcasting Corp. (cir. )

Execs Still Waiting for 404 Help
10/13/2006 - CFO (cir. 450,050)


Early Returns: Notes From The Campaign Trail
10/19/2006 - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (cir. 238,860)
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... In Pennsylvania and across the country, lots of voters are using new machines and that makes some of them nervous. A survey by Lehigh University and the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion found that while most Pennsylvanians are OK with the idea of touch screen voting, an overwhelming number favor a paper verification trail. About a third of voters think it wold be relatively easy to manipulate electronic machines and a startling two-thirds do not have a lot of confidence that their vote will be recorded accurately -- people had more trust in bank ATMs than in voting machines.

The idea of a paper trail was popular across party and gender lines; four out of five voters in every category thought it was "important," to safeguard ballot integrity...


Big bucks for Couric, but still third place for CBS News
10/18/2006 - Philadelphia Inquirer (cir. 350,457)
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Is CBS getting its money's worth from Katie Couric?

After a $13 million promotional campaign touting the $15 million-a-year anchor of CBS Evening News, the network has yet to see a real payoff in its investment.

Despite CBS's incessant spin about Evening News' ratings improvement from '05, two developments are beyond dispute

Since winning the first two weeks following Couric's Sept. 5 debut, Evening News is back in third place in the weekly network-news Nielsens.

Couric, 49, is delivering about the same viewership as did her lower-paid 'interim' predecessor, Bob Schieffer, 69, over his last year.

In last week's race, for example, Brian Williams' No. 1 NBC Nightly News enjoyed its largest advantage over Evening News since Couric became anchor.

Nightly averaged 8.8 million total viewers, 1.5 million more than Evening News' 7.3 million, according to Nielsen Media Research figures released yesterday. It was Nightly's best delivery since March and its 115th blue ribbon in the last 119 weeks.

Charlie Gibson's ABC World News was No. 2 with 8.0 million viewers. Among the target 25-to-54 year-old viewers, it's almost a dead heat among the three broadcasts.

Nightly chief John Reiss, among others, isn't surprised at the back-to-the-future finish.

'We knew in the beginning we'd be in for a painful week or two, but I was absolutely confident that people would come back,' Reiss says. 'You can't be No. 1 for that long by accident. 'People watch Brian because they like him. It's not a casual habit to watch the same broadcast five nights a week... . Things have pretty much gone back to where they were before all this began.' Schieffer averaged 7.3 million total viewers from September '05 through August, according to figures cheerfully supplied by NBC.

As CBS was quick to point out, however, Evening News was up 6 percent in viewers last week compared with the same week a year ago, while NBC and ABC were down 4 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

NBC's Reiss says many Nightly viewers sampled Evening News the first few weeks because they were fans of Couric's when she coanchored NBC's Today. Now, 'I think they're coming back' to NBC, he says.

Kimberly Meltzer, a journalism professor at Lehigh University and former Couric assistant, says Evening News' troubles stem from its attempt to 'stifle' Couric's naturally ebullient personality. 'She's not doing what she's best at,' says Meltzer, author of Irreconcilable Differences: An Analysis of Television's Difficult Marriage with Journalism Through the Lens of Its Anchors, 1950-2006.

'When her personality is allowed to shine through, she's bubbly and candid, with self-deprecating humor,' Meltzer says. 'That's what viewers loved about her. Now she's become much more formal on the air.' If CBS had taken a bigger risk by letting Couric show more personality, 'maybe the news would be doing better,' Meltzer says. (Hey, who needs gravitas?)

As for showing more personality, don't look for NBC's Williams to follow Couric's lead by exposing a little leg. 'Brian refuses to wear a skirt,' says Reiss, tongue firmly in cheek.


SRI LANKA: Blast threatens peace talks next week
10/17/2006 - Australian Broadcasting Corp. (cir. )
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[NOTE: The following is an interview featuring Lehigh's Rajan Menon for ABC's Radio Australia program. Click on the paperclip to the left to listen to the audio file.]

Sri Lanka's military jets have pounded rebel-held territory in the island's north-east in the wake of one of the deadliest ever suicide bombings in which some 100 people were killed.

The latest fighting has heightened international moves to keep next week's scheduled peace talks on track.

Presenter/Interviewer: Zulfikar Abbany

Speakers: Rajan Menon, professor of international relations at Lehigh University and fellow of the New America Foundation in Washington


Execs Still Waiting for 404 Help
10/13/2006 - CFO (cir. 450,050)
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Four years after the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, corporate managers are still seeking guidance on compliance with Section 404, the provision of the law that requires management and auditor assessments of the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting.

To be sure, the Securities and Exchange Commission's final rules for the implementation of 404 SEC and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Boards Auditing Standard No. 2 state that the 1992 Internal ControlIntegrated Framework, also known as COSO, provides enough guidance for managers and external auditors in checking out a corporation's internal controls. But most executives don't believe that COSO sheds enough light on how to comply with the rules, a new survey finds.

According to an Institute of Management Accountants survey of 374 finance chiefs, controllers, internal auditors, and Sarbox compliance specialists at publicly-traded companies, 57 percent of respondents don't believe COSO alone supplies sufficient guidance. COSO was promulgated at a time when assessments of internal controls weren't mandatory, the survey's authors observe.

Only 38 percent of the respondents noted that they refer to COSO at all. In contrast 62 percent mainly rely on AS2 in their efforts to comply with Sarbox's internal controls provision.

The results show that AS2, which provides guidance for auditors on how to conduct audits of internal control over financial reporting, has become the de facto assessment standard for company management, according to the IMA.

In a recent CFO.com article Thomas Ray, the PCAOBs chief auditor, said that revising the auditing standard is the board's highest priority in the next year. Many companies have cited AS2 as a driver of soaring Sarbox compliance costs, claiming that auditors have interpreted the standard conservatively and conducted more work than is needed.

Further, the survey respondents cited the lack of practical guidance from the SEC or professional organizations on how to decide what's an effective internal control system as a factor in boosting Sarbox compliance costs. Another was redundant testing by auditors and inside Sarbox compliance staff. The studys results suggest that the 1992 COSO model offers a principles-based framework but 'falls short of providing implementation guidance that would significantly help management conduct a top-down/risk-based integrated assessment of internal controls over financial reporting in a sustainable cost-effective manner,' Parveen Gupta, an accounting professor at Lehigh University and researcher of the IMA study, said in the IMA report.

CFO Publishing Corporation 2006. All rights reserved.

Posted on Thursday, October 19, 2006

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