NIGHTLINE WINS AGAIN

Chalk up another wild-card victory for ABC's Nightline. The late-night news show beat both CBS's The Late Show With David Letterman and NBC's The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien in total viewers last week and came in second behind Tonight among viewers 25-54. Nightline recorded 3.25 million total viewers, while Late Show drew 2.95 million, just 10,000 ahead of Tonight. (Late Show aired repeats; Tonight aired all-new episodes.) Among the Adults 25-54 demo, Tonight led with 1.57 million viewers; Nightline came in second with 1.22 million; Late Show, third with 1.17 million. Ratings analysts are keeping an eye on the ABC news show, which many believe could pick up additional viewers after Jay Leno's 10:00 p.m. show debuts next month. Several are predicting that viewers are not likely to watch two hours of back-to-back late-night comedy/talk and that Leno fans may be more likely to switch to Nightline following Leno and the local news rather than stick around for similar schtick with O'Brien.

AD BUYERS CONTINUE TO FLEE BECK

After a handful of advertisers pulled out of Glenn Beck's Fox News program last week after the host called President Obama a racist with a "deep-seated hatred of white people," other advertisers have now joined in what has become a mass exodus. ConAgra's Healthy Choice brand, Roche, Sanofi-Aventis, and RadioShack are the latest to ask that their ads run on different programs, according to Broadcasting & Cable magazine. They join Lawyers.com, Procter Gamble Progressive Insurance, S.C. Johnson and Geico. State Farm Insurance said that is "evaluating" its ad buys on the cable news network but indicated that it has "a policy of not advertising on political or opinion programming." B&C indicated that the advertisers may be responding to a protest campaign organized by the group Color of Change, whose executive director, James Rucker, told the trade publication, "To say the things Beck has said, which are clearly baseless and to have those things get put out there and validated as part of a news program, that has consequences."

AT&T BATTLES CABLEVISION

AT&T has gone to court in order to force New York based Cablevision to allow it to carry its high-definition sports programming. The cable company also owns Madison Square Garden and the New York Knicks and New York Rangers. In its complaint AT&T claims that Cablevision has unlawfully prevented it and other video providers from offering a competing HD service to customers. In its response Cablevision observed that AT&T already carries every game offered on its MSG Network in standard definition. "Now they want the FCC to force MSG to hand over its HD programming, which is a product of many years of technological development and investment. The idea that a phone company more than 15 times our size needs a regulatory bailout is absurd."

ABDUL HEADING FOR AUSTRALIA

It seems like the unlikeliest scenario given Paula Abdul's pay demands to return to American Idol and the usual take-home pay of Australian TV celebrities, but it was hard to ignore the rumors that spread virally over the Internet Thursday that Abdul was in discussions either to host (according to some of the reports) or judge (according to others) Australian Idol, Australia's version of the TV talent contest.The rumors came in the wake of the firing of one of the Australian Idol's judges, Kyle Sandilands, who, on his radio show, had strapped a 14-year-old girl to a lie detector and quizzed her about her sex life. Virtually every Australian news outlet mentioned the possibility of Abdul's joining Australian Idol, and one, PerthToday.com, even digitally altered a photograph of the panel of judges, showing Abdul in the seat ordinarily occupied by Sandilands.

"VAYA CON DIOS," LES PAUL -- DEAD AT 94

Legendary guitarist/inventor/performer Les Paul died Thursday of pneumonia at age 94 in White Plains, NY. He is credited with designing the first electric guitar and the first multi-track recording system. He employed a primitive multi-track layering on his first hit records with his then-wife, Mary Ford and amassed 36 gold records between 1949 and 1963. He designed his Mahwah, NJ home so that it could also serve as a television studio, and he broadcast The Les Paul and Mary Ford at Home show from there from 1953-1960. In its obituary, the Associated Press observed that Paul "revolutionized music and created rock 'n' roll as surely as Elvis Presley and the Beatles."

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