i>GREY'S MATTERS MOST
ABC has edged out CBS for a rare Thursday-night ratings win, thanks in large part to an overwhelming 16.4 rating and a 24 share for Grey's Anatomy in the 9:00 p.m. hour. It represented the biggest audience ever for the ABC drama, aside from its post-Super Bowl outing a year ago. CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation also produced strong numbers in the 9:00 p.m. hour, a 14.0/20. CBS rose to first place at 10:00 with its new hit Shark, which delivered a 10.5/17, well ahead of NBC's onetime champ, ER, which fell to an 8.5/14.
FCC TO TAKE AIM AT VIOLENCE
The FCC has drafted a report suggesting ways in which violence on television may be restricted without raising First Amendment issues, the Associated Press disclosed Thursday. According to the wire service, the report suggests that Congress could require television networks to limit violent content by barring it during times when children are not likely to see it. In an interview with the A.P., FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said, "In general, what the commission's report says is that there is strong evidence that shows violent media can have an impact on children's behavior and there are some things that can be done about it." Martin, a Republican, is receiving wholehearted support from FCC commissioner Michael Copps, a Democrat. "People really feel strongly about this issue all across this land," Copps told the A.P. "This is not a 'red state' or a 'blue state' issue."
MOST TIVO OWNERS DON'T ZAP ADS, SAYS STUDY
Not everyone who owns a TiVo or other personal digital recorder skips commercials when playing back shows, according to a study by Nielsen Research presented to clients in Orlando, FL Thursday. In fact they watch 40 percent of them, the study said. In an interview with today's (Friday) New York Times, Steve Sternberg, director of audience analysis at ad buyers Magna Global, expressed surprise at the study's findings. "People are actually playing back more of the commercials than we thought, he said. "People are buying DVRs not because they want to ... skip all commercials, but because they want to time-shift some of their viewing." The study also found that people who watch a recording close to the time the program is actually broadcast are less likely to skip commercials than those who watch them much later. According to Nielsen, about 20 percent of home viewers now own some form of personal digital recorder.
OSCAR AD BUYERS ALSO SETTING UP WEBSITES
The score of advertisers who have purchased ads during ABC's telecast of the 79th Academy Awards show on Feb. 25 (at $1.7 million per 30-second spot) have launched elaborate websites in connection with their Oscar advertising, the New York Times observed today (Friday). Moreover, it noted, ABC is even talking to advertisers about buying ads that would accompany Oscar coverage directed at cellphones. "The attention that Oscar commercials draw," the Times commented, "is a two-edged sword. The publicity can amplify the ad buy, but can backfire if the commercials disappoint."
FOX NEWS DROPS CHETRY; BLAMES AGENT
Fox News Channel is cutting its ties with Kiran Chetry, who joined the cable news outlet six years ago as news update and weekend anchor -- because it is miffed with her agent. TVNewser ran the text of a letter sent by legal VP Dianne Brandi to Chetry's agent, John Ferriter of the William Morris Agency, saying that it is terminating negotiations with the agent and that Chetry is free to leave "with no further compensation." In the letter Brandi lashes out at Ferriter in terms that are likely unprecedented between an entertainment company and a major talent agency. "You have treated Fox News with such arrogant disregard that we do not desire to do any further business with you," she wrote. "You refused to enter into good faith negotiations despite your client's statements that she wanted to remain at Fox News and was happy with the remuneration we had offered." The letter concludes: "We had hoped that Ms. Chetry would have a bright future with the Fox News Channel, however this negotiation has now become more trouble than it is worth."
NBC RESIGNS OLBERMANN -- FOR MSNBC AND NIGHTLY NEWS
Appearing to hand over a load of new ammunition to Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly, who has accused NBC of leftist sentiments, the GE-owned network on Thursday announced that it had signed a new deal with Keith Olbermann, under which he'll not only continue to air his liberal views on MSNBC but also air them as a regular contributor to NBC Nightly News. (The network refers to them as "essays.") Over the past year, Olbermann has seen his ratings on MSNBC climb 85 percent to about 715,000 viewers. O'Reilly, who airs opposite him, continues to dominate with about 2.5 million viewers, although his audience has dropped about 3 percent during the past year.