OBAMA ADDRESS A BIG TV DRAW

About 16.5 million viewers tuned in to the broadcast networks Thursday night to watch Sen. Barack Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. NBC once again drew the largest number of viewers, 6.27 million. ABC was second with 5.73 million, while CBS attracted 4.46 million. (The results for NBC were particularly impressive given the fact that the network placed fourth between 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. with preseason NFL football, which attracted just 4.37 million fans.) Cable figures were not immediately available. John Kerry's acceptance address in 2004 drew 24 million viewers on both broadcast and cable networks -- a figure that will almost certainly be eclipsed by Obama's total count. On Wednesday, some 24 million viewers tuned in to watch Senator Joseph Biden accept the vice presidential nomination on the broadcast and cable networks combined. Somewhat surprisingly, CNN outdrew each of the broadcast networks on Wednesday, with 5.38 million viewers. NBC was close behind with 5.36 million -- a difference that is statistically insignificant. ABC placed third with 3.48 million, edging out CBS with 3.46 million (also statistically insignificant). Fox News drew 2.7 million and was slightly ahead of MSNBC with 2.3 million, according to figures from Nielsen Research. Next week's coverage of the Republican convention in St. Paul is expected to be dominated by Fox News, which outdrew all of the broadcast networks on each night of the GOP convention four years ago.

ABC DEFENDS ARRESTED REPORTER

Civil liberties and journalist organizations have joined ABC-TV in asking Denver authorities to drop charges against ABC reporter/producer Asa Eslocker. Eslocker was arrested Wednesday while attempting to shoot interviews on the sidewalk outside the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver for an ABC investigative report about links between political donors and Congressional lawmakers. Footage taken by Eslocker's cameraman shows an officer telling Eslocker that the sidewalk is owned by the hotel and that he is trespassing. (The hotel later acknowledged that it did not own the sidewalk.) In a letter to the Denver city attorney, ABC observed that Eslocker was "standing on public sidewalks covering an event of public significance and performing a press function protected by the First Amendment." Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, commented, "Arresting a reporter for simply doing his job is both unconstitutional and un-American." The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said that it was "alarmed by the arrest and harassment" of Eslocker and asked Denver officials "to respect the rights of citizens, including journalists, to be on public property." Meanwhile, on his blog, ABC News anchor Charles Gibson, observing that Eslocker was released on $500 bail, remarked, "We got a kick out of the fact that he swiped his corporate credit card to put up the five hundred."

CHINESE VIEWERS SAY NBC'S OLYMPICS COVERAGE WAS TOPS

Chinese viewers of the Olympics -- and there were reportedly 840 million of them -- not only caught the athletic events on China's state-run CCTV but many also were able to download the telecasts of America's NBC, the Wall Street Journal reported today (Friday) -- and some Chinese viewers reportedly found that the American coverage was superior. One Chinese blogger, the newspaper said, wrote that while the NBC broadcast of the opening ceremonies displayed a "spectacular atmosphere," the Chinese coverage of the ceremonies was "scattered and fragmentary.

SONY TO SHIP WORLD'S THINNEST TV

In November, Sony plans to begin shipping to Japanese retailers a 40-inch, hang-on-the-wall TV set that is slightly more than a third of an inch thick, making it by far the slimmest set on the market. Reports say that the set will initially be priced in Japan at about $4,500. A European version is expected to be available before the Christmas holiday period. However, no date has been suggested for an American launch. According to the company, the new TV also incorporates several recently developed Sony technologies that produce higher picture definition, brightness, and contrast.

NEWS CORP HAS EYE ON THE SKY IN JAPAN

News Corp, which got out of the home-satellite business in the U.S. in February when it sold its controlling interest in DirecTV to Liberty Media, is planning to establish a "new wholly-owned" satellite subsidiary in Japan in 2011, according to Nikkei News, which cited no sources. It was unclear, however, how the business plans to function. News reports in the U.S. said that it was likely that News Corp merely plans to launch another satellite program channel in Japan that would expand the number of channels it currently operates in the country -- but there was no explanation of why a separate subsidiary would be required to do so. News Corp is the leading satellite carrier in most other parts of Asia, with its STAR satellite service beaming regional channels to Greater China, India, Indonesia, and the rest of South East Asia, but it sold its interest in Japan's SkyPerfectTV in 2004 after its stake in the company, which it launched in 1997, became increasingly diluted through share sales and mergers.

Brian B.