YOUTUBE: IT'S TV WITHOUT BORDERS, COWELL SUGGESTS

The international awareness of Susan Boyle, the Scottish woman who became a sensation after her performance on Britain's Got Talent, has demonstrated the power of YouTube to change the very nature of television, Simon Cowell, the show's co-host and co-producer, told the Television Critics Association in Pasadena on Friday. "I think it's the best thing that's ever happened to us in the world," Cowell said. "What YouTube has done is literally brought the whole world together." He said that the YouTube video has made U.S. audiences more aware of the U.S. version of the show, America's Got Talent, which airs on NBC in the summer. "I always believed this show was a sleeping giant," he said. And he indicated that he now plans to put the British winner on the American series. "And I think that's a great incentive for the British winner now." But Cowell noted that might not be Susan Boyle. "She has to win first," he noted.

COULD THE INTERNET BRING DOWN CABLE-TV, TOO?

The growing popularity of video websites could eventually have a devastating effect on cable TV, according to Britain's Economist magazine. "Consumers' new-found freedom to choose has struck fear into the hearts of the cable companies," the magazine observed in its current issue, noting that they have responded by trying to slow video downloads or charging "extortionately" for downloading large files. "Yet the measures to suffocate Internet television being taken by the cable companies may already be too late. A torrent (sic) of innovative start-ups, not seen since the dot-com mania of a decade ago, is flooding the market with technology for supplying Internet television to the living toom."

CNN: GETTING WRECKED FOR STANDING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD?

Competition from opinionated cable news outlets like Fox News and MSNBC has continued to weaken the ratings of the pioneer cable news network, CNN, the New York Times observed today (Monday). The newspaper quoted several CNN staffers who -- anonymously -- expressed doubt that CNN could remain a viable operation by continuing to "steer the middle course." One correspondent said, "All of a sudden it seems a little unfashionable to be in the middle. ... I think people are struggling with that." But Jon Klein, president of the U.S. unit of CNN, told the newspaper, "There are several networks that reside in the cable news category, but only one that reliably delivers the news unbiased. ... We would do ourselves a disservice if we thought that our main competitors were the other so-called cable news networks. They don't have journalists on in prime time."

BEA ARTHUR --TV'S MAUDE -- DIES AT 86

Bea Arthur, best known for her Emmy Award-winning starring roles on the sitcoms Maude and the Golden Girls, died Saturday of cancer at age 86. Writing about her death, USA Today TV critic Robert Bianco wrote: "There are stars who, when they leave, you realize how far we've come. With Arthur, sad to say, you realize how far we've regressed; there's no way Maude or Golden Girls gets on the air on any of the broadcast networks today. In an era in which networks cater to young viewers and kowtow to advertisers, everything about those shows would be a no-go, from the age of their stars to their no-holds-barred, no-sacred-cows style. Maude had an abortion. Wherever one stands on the issue, we can all probably agree that no sitcom today would dare take that kind of risk." Making the abortion episode even riskier: It aired in November, 1972, two months before the Supreme Court handed down the Roe vs. Wade decision. "I think we made television a little more adult," Arthur herself once remarked.

SUNDAY RATINGS DIVE

Ratings for the major broadcast networks continued to erode Sunday night, with CBS and ABC virtually tied for first place with an average rating of about 10 million for the night in primetime. ABC's Desperate Housewives was the highest-rated show of the night with 13.51 million viewers. NBC produced so-so ratings for Celebrity Apprentice and ended up averaging 6.65 million viewers. Fox struck out with just 4.52 million.

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