SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER

Although Saturday night is often regarded as a dumping ground for the television networks, with most of the shows drawing the lowest ratings of the week, CBS had no problem attracting a massive audience for its coverage of the NCAA basketball Final Four Doubleheader. The telecast opened at 8:00 with 13.48 million viewers tuning in and although dipping a fraction in subsequent half hours, it came back strongly at 10:30 p.m. with 13.81 million viewers.

JERICHO MAY RETURN FROM THE ASHES

Jericho, the CBS television series that was canceled because of low ratings, then revived following protests from fans, then canceled again because of low ratings, may be revived a second time, the New York Times reported today (Monday). The newspaper said that CBS may follow NBC's recent example with Friday Night Lights in which it sold the DirecTV satellite service the right to air the series before it goes on network TV. The Times said that CBS is considering a similar option in negotiations with cable provider Comcast. Meanwhile, although DirecTV executives have expressed confidence that the Friday Night Lights deal could drive new subscribers to their service, some analysts are expressing skepticism about its ability to do so and forecasting that the DirecTV episodes will wind up being pirated on the Internet.

HOCKEY GOING INTERACTIVE

With ratings for National Hockey League games continuing to melt away, the league is snazzing up its website with a new video player that can play archived highlight clips going back three years. The clips can be retrieved by typing in either the name of the player or the date in a search box. The website coincides with the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs on Wednesday. The website PaidContent.com reported Sunday that numerous interactive features are being rolled out for the NHL website, including one that, by clicking "more" after watching a game's highlights, viewers can see a list of goals and click on any specific one. (They can then view a list of goals scored by the same player in other games.)

COURIC ESCHEWS RATINGS

Katie Couric continues to be upbeat about the CBS Evening News even as it remains firmly stuck in third place with few if any audience gains month to month. "I've never really judged my worth by ratings," Couric told today's (Monday) Washington Post. It was good to be number one on the Today show, but to me it was more important to do a good show. Our broadcast, I think, is of really good quality. Hopefully more people will come to it." Couric also said that she can identify with Hillary Clinton: "I'm sensitive to coverage that can be very subtly stacked against her, maybe a headline that has a little more snarkiness about her. ... I understand that kind of coverage because I've experienced it myself.".

LACHLAN MURDOCH'S MEDIA PLAY FIZZLES

Lachlan Murdoch's plan to launch his own media empire by taking Australia's Consolidated Media Holdings private with his long-time friend and onetime business partner James Packer has come undone. The $3.2-billion deal reportedly began to unravel after the private equity firm Providence Equity Partners said it was not prepared to pay the original price for Consolidated after the company's shares fell on the Sydney Stock Exchange. Consolidated Media's holdings include stakes in the Nine Network and the pay TV operator Foxtel. Murdoch said early today that his investment company, Illyria, was "not in a position to proceed with the indicative proposal due to material changes in the overall transaction terms." The collapse of the deal was viewed as a stunning setback for the younger Murdoch, who in 2005 left News Corp, his father's media empire, to return to Australia, start his own business, and "be my own man."

BROKAW: NEWS FACING "TOUGH" COMPETITION

Tom Brokaw, who fronts a two-hour documentary about Martin Luther King on the History Channel this month (it debuted Sunday night), has acknowledged that it is difficult to get people -- especially young people -- to tune in to long-form documentaries these days. Interviewed by Forbes magazine, Brokaw said, "It's tough. It's the same thing as trying to get them to read a long-form magazine and newspaper pieces. Everyone wants to do YouTube and Match.com." Brokaw, the former anchor of NBC Nightly News, said that developing an evening newscast is "a struggle." Recalling a visit to MIT last week, he said, "There were about 15 students in the room with me, and I asked how many of them read a newspaper on a daily basis. Two hands went up. Then I asked how many watched the evening news on a nightly basis. No hands went up. And then I asked how many spend a lot of time during the day going to their PDA or computer to find out what's going on, and every hand went up."

FCC ASKS JUSTICE DEPT. TO SUE NETWORKS

Saying that it is "long past time" for Fox Broadcasting to pay its fines for airing allegedly indecent material during the 2003 reality series Married by America, the FCC has handed the case to the Justice Department to collect the money. The Justice Department quickly filed lawsuits against eight stations owned by Fox and Sinclair broadcasting companies in federal courts in Washington, D.C.; Iowa; West Virginia and Tennessee. For its part, Fox said that it welcomed "the opportunity to present the full factual and legal argument in the 'Married by America' case to an impartial and open court of law." The FCC's action grew out of an episode of the show in which scenes featuring "pixilated" naked bodies of strippers appeared at a bachelor party.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.