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Joanna Pacitti Kicked Off American Idol : MediaBytes with Shelly Palmer February 13, 2009

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Joanna Pacitti, the controversial American Idol contest, has been kicked off the show. However, Pacitti was not thrown off for her semi-professional status, rather for having personal relationships with two 19 Entertainment insiders.

The FCC has ruled that 123 stations set to make the transition to digital television before June 12th will not be allowed to do so. The agency claims that the stations "early termination poses a significant risk of substantial public harm." The stations can appeal the ruling by submitting a five-page statement on how delaying the transition until June will cause them "extreme economic hardship."

Microsoft is set to begin opening retail stores. The folks at Redmond hired former Wal-Mart executive David Porter to be its VP of Retail Stores. Taking its cue from Apple, Microsoft will open a small number of stores in strategic areas. Microsoft noted that "The purpose of opening these stores is to create deeper engagement with consumers and continue to learn firsthand about what they want and how they buy."

Google announced they are quitting the radio business. The search giant, who recently stopped selling newspaper ads, will do the same on the radio, in order to concentrate on web radio. The decision comes 3 years after Google paid $102 million in cash and nearly $1.2 billion in incentives to dMarc, a radio ad buying program.

Midway Games filed for bankruptcy protection yesterday. The video game company, which Sumner Redstone formerly held a majority stake in, claims a change in ownership led to mounting debt that it could not fulfill. Midway CEO and President Matt Booty said ''We have been focused on realigning our operations and improving our execution, and this filing will relieve the immediate pressure from our creditors and provide us time for an orderly exploration of our strategic alternatives."

Charter Communications has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company, owned by Paul Allen, is strapped with nearly $8 billion dollars of debt. Plans to restructure will begin April 1.

Viacom is reporting that profit for the fourth quarter of 2008 was down 69%. However, the company's revenue remained flat. Despite apparent hardships, Sumner Redstone said "My long experience gives me optimism," while Viacom CEO described the times as "an orgy of pessimism." While outlook isn't great, the media conglomerate's cable division (MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1), and its film division were noted bright spots in the financial report.

Shelly Palmer is a consultant and the host of MediaBytes a daily show featuring news you can use about technology, media & entertainment. He is Managing Director of Advanced Media Ventures Group LLC and the author of Television Disrupted: The Transition from Network to Networked TV (2008, York House Press). Shelly is also President of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, NY (the organization that bestows the coveted Emmy® Awards). You can join the MediaBytes mailing list here. Shelly can be reached at