CBS, TURNER MAY MAKE JOINT OLYMPICS BID

CBS and Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting are considering joining up to bid on rights to televise the Olympics in 2014 and 2016, the Associated Press reported today (Thursday), citing no sources. NBC, ABC/ESPN, and Fox have already said they expect to bid on U.S. rights to the games. CBS, which has few cable outlets, had been considered an unlikely bidder, but a deal with Turner could add TBS, TNT, TMC, CNN, Headline News, and the Cartoon Network to the mix. Neither Turner nor CBS would confirm the report. A Turner spokeswoman would only say that it was "something that we would have potential interest [in] if it made economic sense for our company." CBS Sports President Sean McManus told AP that while the Olympics were undeniably attractive, there was no guarantee that this year's success would carry over to future years.

AD BUYERS SPENDING MORE, NOT LESS, ON TV, SAYS STUDY

Despite the widespread perception that advertisers slashed spending this year, a study by the Nielsen Company indicates a decline through the first three quarters of just 0.6 percent compared to the same period last year. Virtually all of the decrease was attributable to lower ad spending on magazines and newspapers, particularly Sunday supplements, which dropped 9.9 percent. Cable TV actually saw a whopping 8.4 percent increase. Broadcast television saw a slight growth of 0.9 percent. Only three categories of advertisers spent less than a year ago: automotive, which was down 8 percent (Ford cut back 23 percent; GM, 4 percent); pharmaceuticals, down 4 percent, and local auto dealerships, down 3 percent. Fast-food restaurants showed the largest increase as Wendy's/Arby's and Jack-in-the-Box each increased ad spending 30 percent.

NCIS CONTINUES TO GROW AUDIENCE

The audience for the six-year-old series NCIS continues to grow. On Tuesday, the CBS 9.00 p.m. drama posted its highest ratings ever as it attracted 19.86 million viewers. It also helped give CBS the most viewers on a Tuesday night since 1995 -- an average of 17.89 million, as the new series The Mentalist attracted 19.33 million viewers at 8:00 p.m. and Without a Trace, 14.49 million at 10:00 p.m. NBC also scored strongly with the season finale of The Biggest Loser Tuesday night. It drew 14.49 million viewers. The network's Ryan Seacrest-produced Momma's Boys also drew decent ratings in its debut at 10:00 p.m. as 6.07 million viewers tuned in.

MINORITY ACTORS GETTING FEWER JOBS, SAYS NAACP STUDY

Roles filled by minority actors on television continued to decline in 2008 and shows featuring them in leading roles remained virtually non-existent, according to a study released by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The study, titled "Out of Focus, Out of Sync, blamed a systemic condition that included both studio management and the industry's unions (which it accused of "nepotism and cronyism"). Non-scripted shows were a different matter, the NAACP study said, pointing out that shows like CBS's Survivor and Fox's American Idol "are likely to be more diverse in casting than their scripted counterparts.

BASEBALL CHANNEL TO DEBUT ON NEW YEAR'S DAY

New Year's Day usually features back-to-back college-football bowl games, but baseball fans will also be handed a treat this year when The MLB Network debuts on January 1 by rebroadcasting the 1956 World Series baseball game (including vintage commercials) in which Don Larsen pitched a perfect game for the New York Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers. The game, originally televised live on NBC, was announced by Yankees broadcaster Mel Allen, who died in 1996 at age 83, and Vin Scully, who remains the lead Dodgers announcer at age 81. A kinescope recording of the game (beginning in the second inning) was recently discovered, allowing the new channel to rebroadcast it for the first time in history beginning at 7:00 p.m.

OLDER VIEWERS SPEND 19.2 HOURS A WEEK WATCHING TV

Older viewers who often complain that young people spend too much time in front of their television sets may be brought up short by a new study indicating that they spend twice as much time watching TV as the younger set. According to the study by Deloitte Research titled "The State of the Media Democracy," younger viewers ages 14-25 watch 10.5 hours of TV a week versus 21.5 hours for viewers 62-75. In between are those 26-42 who watch TV 15.1 hours a week and those 43-61 (the so-called "baby boomers"), who watch 19.2 hours.

COWELL ADDRESSES GOODSPEED SUICIDE

Acknowledging that the suicide of former American Idol contestant Paula Goodspeed hit him "like an express train" and that "it upset me a lot," AI judge Simon Cowell said he began thinking "long and hard" about his acerbic comments to hopeless performers on the show. In the end, he said, he concluded that it would be wise to "continue in the way we have always done. We have tried to have a sense of humor. The show is not an inherently mean show." Speaking during a conference call with reporters in advance of the show's new season, Cowell added, "What happened was awful. My regret is that we didn't know how troubled this person was. If I had gone back in time and known what she was going through, I wish we could have spent time trying to help her, but we genuinely didn't know." Cowell also indicated that he assumes that "everyone who enters American Idol kind of knows the score. If you're not great, you're going to get criticism." In the case of Goodspeed, the judges laughed at her performance and, referring to her braces, Cowell asked how she was able to sing "with that much metal."