CBS DOMINATES RATINGS

If it hadn't been for NBC's Sunday Night Football, every show making the top-ten positions on the Nielsen ratings list for last week would have been broadcast by CBS. The network saw a huge 30-percent rise in the number of viewers for its programs over the comparable week a year ago, with several of its shows reflecting series or season highs, including the six-year old NCIS, which wound up in first place with nearly 20 million viewers. CBS also placed first among the advertiser-coveted 18-49-year-old demographic. The Network's success came at the significant expense of its rivals as each of them showed ratings declines from last year.

The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:

1. NCIS, CBS, 11.9/19; 2. The Mentalist, CBS, 11.6, /8; 3. Sunday Night Football, NBC, 11.5/19; 4. Two and a Half Men, CBS, 10.6/16; 5. Criminal Minds, CBS, 9.5/15; 6. CSI: Miami, CBS, 9.2/15; 6. Without a Trace, CBS, 9.2/16; 8. CSI: NY, CBS, 8.6/15; 9. 60 Minutes, CBS, 8.4/14; 10. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 8.1/13.

NEWS SHOWS SEE RATINGS RISE -- BUT WHY?

Although it did not appear to be a particularly eventful week, last week drew big audiences for the network nightly newscasts. NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams was the leader with 10.06 million viewers. ABC World News With Charles Gibson placed second with 9.18 million. Even the CBS Evening News With Katie Couric performed admirably, capturing 7.43 million viewers -- her best numbers in nearly a year. Couric's numbers impressed Associated Press writer David Bauder, who wrote that they suggest "that two years after the initial bad reaction viewers had to her move from Today, some people are giving her a second chance."

WARNER BROS. ACCUSES CBS OF CHEATING

In what today's (Wednesday) Hollywood Reporter described as "a surprise move," Warner Bros. Television has sued CBS for $49 million claiming that the network has refused to pay fees in connection with the airing of Two and a Half Men. The studio said that the network had contractually agreed to pay it a premium above the original license fee if the show was picked up after four seasons but had refused to do so. "It is rare for a major TV studio to sue a network," the Reporter observed, and it is particularly unusual in this case since Warner Bros. and CBS are co-owners of the CW network.

NO SALE, SAYS SUPER BOWL TV EXEC

NBC has denied reports that it has sold a $3-million Super Bowl spot to Los Angeles-based ad agency Cesario Migliozzi, which said that it would develop the spot to include eight advertisers. "We've not given them permission, and there is no way we are going to," Seth Winter, senior vp sports and Olympics sales for NBC, told Advertising Age. CM partner Michael Migliozzi told the trade publication that his agency had been "cheerleaded" by the network which had been looking for innovative uses of the commercials.

MAN WHO AIRED HEZBOLLAH TAPES PLEADS GUILTY

A New York satellite TV owner has pleaded guilty to charges of providing material aid to a terrorist organization by setting up satellite dishes for customers wishing to receive the Hezbollah television station Al Manor from Lebanon. Javed Iqbal agreed to serve a prison term of up to 6 1/2 years. While Iqbal's attorneys attempted to argue First Amendment protection, the government insisted that he was purely motivated by the prospect of commercial profits. Lebanon Information Minister Ghazi Aridi called Iqbal's prosecution an "attack against freedoms" that robs people the freedom to watch Al Manor.