FOOTBALL RULES ON SATURDAY

More people watched television on Saturday than any earlier day of the week -- a day most TV networks have written off as forsaken. What drew them was the overrun of the NFC Playoff game on Fox at 8:00 p.m. and the AFC Playoff on CBS from 8:15 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. The Fox half-hour produced a whopping 19.4 rating and a 30 share, while CBS averaged a 17.3/27. Fox was even able to hold a significant part of its football audience for Cops at 8:30 p.m., which scored a season high of 7.4/12. Football continued to dominate on Sunday, with the final half of the NFC Divisional Game scoring a 26.0/37 on Fox between 7:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

SUPER BOWL AD RATES GROW MORE SUPER

Super Bowl ad rates continue to rise despite falling ratings for the game itself. Advertising Age is reporting that the average cost of a 30-second spot has risen to $2.25 million, up seven percent from last year's $2.1 million. According to the magazine, CBS has sold all but eight of its 62 commercial availabilities. Remaining spots are available only in the fourth quarter, when audience levels generally drop if the game's outcome seems apparent. Dominated during the height of the Internet boom by dot-com businesses, the telecast will feature ads from only two Internet companies this year: America Online and job site Monster.com.

GOODBYE, FRASIER

After failing to negotiate a lower price tag for a 12th season of Frasier, NBC is expected to announce today (Monday) that the show will air its final episode in May, the New York Times reported today. The newspaper observed that many network executives involved in the negotiations were unaware that the producers of the show had already sent invitations to reporters who cover television to attend a farewell luncheon in Hollywood today.

COMING: PREVIEWS ON YOUR DIRECTV PROGRAM GUIDE

DirecTV is planning to incorporate in its digital receiver/recorder a program menu that will allow subscribers to view a 30-second preview of all episodes on the primetime schedule, CEO Chase Carey has told Business Week magazine. Carey also said that he intends to make DirecTV more interactive, especially when it comes to sports events, where viewers will be able to select various camera angles or get a quick summary of what they have missed when they tune in late. "What I would love to do is [offer] betting on games," Carey added. Carey said that he aims to attract one million new subscribers each year.

BUSH VS. THE MEDIA

In an article titled "Fortress Bush: How the White House Keeps the Press at a Distance -- and Under Control" the New Yorker's Ken Auletta describes the escalating antagonism between the administration and the news media. Auletta quotes Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political adviser, as saying that journalists don't regard their primary duty as reporting the news. "It's to get a headline or get a story that will make people pay attention to their magazine, newspaper or television more." Chief of Staff Andy Card is quoted as saying that White House officials have no obligation to provide reports with facts about their operations. "It's not our job to be sources," Card tells Auletta. "Our job is not to make your job easy."

U.S. TV NETWORKS IGNORE INTERNATIONAL CRISES, SAYS REPORT

Except for the crises in Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel, the networks' nightly news reports chose virtually to ignore international issues in 2003, according to a report by the Paris-based Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Fronti