LET MY PEOPLE GO? ABC SAYS, NO WAY!

As if they were obeying an eleventh commandment -- Thou Shalt Watch the Ten Commandments Every Year -- television viewers made the 1956 Cecil B. DeMille classic the most-watched television program Saturday night. The ABC telecast attracted an audience of 7.87 million -- more than those who tuned in to any other program that night. Nevertheless, the numbers were down from previous years when the movie aired on Easter Sunday. Presumably, ABC was reluctant to bump Desperate Housewives from its Sunday-night slot, where it regularly produces some of the network's highest ratings. Sunday night's episode, for example, drew 15.66 million viewers, about twice the number who watched Commandments the night before. While Housewives remained the top-rated show Sunday night, its ratings continue to erode. It is now attracting about half the number of viewers that it did a year ago.

TV NEWS CREWS HEAD TO BAHAMAS

Television crews from all over the world are expected to converge on the Bahamas Tuesday when Ohio DNA expert Dr. Michael Baird is expected to announce results of tests to determine the paternity of Anna Nicole Smith's baby. Attorney Howard K. Stern and photographer Larry Birkhead, the two men who claim to be the father of the infant, are also expected to be on hand. A recent study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism concluded that between February 8, 2007, the day of Smith's death, to March 2, 2007, the day of her burial, the three major cable news networks devoted 22 percent of their newscasts to the story compared with 17 percent for the Iraq War.

SOUTH PARK MARKING A TURNING POINT IN TV HISTORY?

The decision by Comedy Central to make available the first episode of the new season of South Park in high definition via Microsoft's Xbox360 network may mark a turning point in TV history, MediaPost writer Josh Lovison observed Friday. Noting that Comedy Central does not air in HDTV, Lovison wrote, "This makes South Park the first network TV show to bypass its traditional distributors to offer a superior product via digital distribution -- in this case, a major video game platform." Referring to the fact that because of bandwidth considerations cable systems can carry only a handful of HDTV networks, Lovison commented that if program producers "are able to deliver their content in HD via nontraditional, digital, 'on-demand' alternatives -- then traditional TV may become obsolete."

COURIC, VIEIRA ASK VIEWERS TO BE PATIENT

Even seven months after taking over the helm of the CBS Evening News, Katie Couric is still counseling patience. In an interview with More magazine, Couric says that she's "still getting my sea legs." Her aim, she says, is to establish the newscast "as smart and trustworthy and me as a relatively intelligent person." That change in her own image, she suggested, has been jarring to her longtime fans. "The people who used to watch me on the Today show are saying: 'What happened to her? She's not laughing and carrying on the way she used to." Ironically, Meredith Vieira, who replaced Couric on Today, has also asked viewers to be patient during the transition. "I'm still in the process of getting comfortable," Vieira told today's (Monday) Washington Post. "This is an ensemble, and it's a performance every day. It's a dance. The more you do it, the better you get at it."

YOUTUBE'S BATTLE WITH THAI MILITARY ESCALATES

The military regime in Thailand continued to block YouTube as new images mocking the king were posted in a backlash to the government's censorship of the video-sharing website. Meanwhile, YouTube offered to meet with Thai officials to discuss the issue. "While we will not take down videos that do not violate our policies, and do not assist governments, we have offered to educate the Thai ministry about YouTube and how it works," a company spokesperson told Bloomberg News. "It's up to the Thai government to decide whether to block specific videos, but we would rather that than have them block the whole site." Meanwhile, a Pattaya newspaper noted that ousted prime minister Thaksin is "au fait" (well-versed) with technology and could use such sites as YouTube "to remain in the public eye with his supporters." The government has previously ordered broadcasters in the country to avoid any mention of Thaksin or his partisan allies. And in yet another action, government censors shut down an internet forum, Ratchadamnoen Room, hosted by the popular Thai website www.pantip.com, after concluding that some of the opinions posted on the site, presumably by critics of the military regime, represented "a threat to national security."

Brian B.