RUDOLPH STILL SHINES FOR CBS

During a week that produced ratings that looked like they belonged to the summer rerun season, CBS pulled off another win due in large part to the success of the umpteenth rerun of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (it originally aired in 1964), which placed second for the week, according to Nielsen Research. The top show of the week was a rerun of NCIS. But the one that drew the most attention was NBC's Identity, a kind of elaborate What's My Line?, which the network aired on five consecutive nights. On three of those nights, it won its time period, but it did not match the ratings for the 5-day premiere of Deal or No Deal, which the network launched during the same week a year ago -- also over five consecutive nights. The game show helped NBC land in second place for the week. Meanwhile, ESPN drew 14.22 million viewers for its Monday Night Football. If cable ratings were included with those of the broadcast networks, the game would have finished third.

NBC NEWS AHEAD OF THE PACK AGAIN

NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams continued to hold the lead among the evening newscasts, averaging 9.48 million viewers. ABC's World News With Charles Gibson placed second with 8.53 million viewers, while CBS Evening News with Katie Couric trailed with 7.45 million. Nightly News has continued to retain the top position since the beginning of the season.

CBS CRITICIZED FOR NON-COVERAGE OF FORD'S DEATH

Coverage of the death of former President Gerald Ford ranged from the inordinate on Fox News Network -- which kept with the story live throughout Tuesday night after becoming the first to break it just before midnight -- to the perfunctory on CBS, the only major broadcast network that did not interrupt its regular programming for the news (it ran a scroll at the bottom of the screen). ABC brought Charles Gibson back to Good Morning America for the early-morning coverage, while Tom Brokaw returned to the Today show for NBC. Katie Couric was reportedly on vacation somewhere in Europe and apparently could not be rushed to a local TV studio. CBS's non-coverage became a story in itself by the Associated Press. It pointed out that a CBS News producer was fired in 2004 for breaking into CSI: NY for a report on the death of Yasser Arafat, instead of handling it with a "crawl." However, Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Washington-based Project for Excellence in Journalism, told the A.P.: "Generally speaking, you don't want to be the only network that didn't do something when the others did."

L.A. TIMES RELAUNCHING CALENDAR SECTION, HIRES WEEKEND EDITOR

In an apparent new effort to liven up its entertainment reporting, the Los Angeles Times has hired Mary Kaye Schilling, a former executive editor of Entertainment Weekly and the onetime editor of Sassy, to edit its Calendar weekend edition beginning in February. The newspaper said that it intends to "relaunch" the Calendar section at that time, together with its website, www.calendarlive.com.

Brian B.