First Monday: New in business TV, DVDs, magazines, books

On this month's business calendar:

July 9: Four-month anniversary of current bull market.

July 10: U.S. Treasury auto task force deadline for court approval of General Motors' asset sale, or the government will cut off GM funding.

July 11: Deadline for Windows XP and Vista users to pre-order a copy of Windows 7 Home Premium for $49 or Windows 7 Professional for $99.

July 16: Former Treasury secretary Henry Paulson slated to testify before the House Oversight committee about his role in Bank of America's purchase of Merrill Lynch.

July 28: First scheduled federal bankruptcy court conference in a lawsuit filed by ex-clients of Bernard Madoff challenging the methodology used to calculate and pay victims' losses.

July 29: Sirius XM Radio increases subscribers' monthly bills almost $2.


By Michelle Archer, Special for USA TODAY

On TV:

The Ascent of Money

PBS, Wednesday, 9 p.m. ET (check local listings or

Harvard history professor Niall Ferguson returns to PBS with more lively explanations of the evolution of global finance. Each Wednesday in July, Ferguson aims to use history and plain language to show how we get into such pickles as the sub-prime mortgage crisis and the insurance-industry aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Ferguson says that a lot of the financial innovations of the past century have been of great benefit to mankind, but it's a bumpy ride.

"Financial history is like a mountain range. There are these peaks and also these sudden cliffs that you fall off," Ferguson says. "But the long-term story is one of ascent."

Though he says we're living through the worst financial crisis since the 1930s, it won't take us back to the 1930s.

"It may take our portfolios back a decade, but it won't take us all the way back to our previous generations'," Ferguson says.

Porn: Business of Pleasure

CNBC, July 15, 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET

For CNBC's Melissa Lee, working on the one-hour documentary Porn: Business of Pleasure was just like covering any other industry.

"It truly is a business like any other business out there," Lee said. "Yes, the product is different and the employees are probably much more colorful, but at the end of the day, this is an industry trying to make money."

There's a lot of money at stake: $100 billion globally, Lee's show estimates, with $3,075 spent every second on adult content.

Problem is, as one industry executive tells Lee without a trace of irony, technology has eliminated all barriers to entry. With so much free content available online, another executive says, why would someone want to pay for it?

Reduced DVD sales have the industry scrambling to figure out how to monetize an Internet and mobile-phone strategy, Lee says.

"And so it's interesting to see what this industry, which has been at the forefront of technology for so long, is now doing to cope with those problems as sort of a guide to what other companies may do."

Wide Angle: The Market Maker

PBS, July 22, 10 p.m. ET (check local listings or

It's a true story that should have Hollywood calling.

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