IDOL -- DESPITE DROP, IT'S STILL BIGGEST

Despite efforts by the producers of American Idol to streamline the show's opening weeks and to add another judge, ratings for the talent contest have dropped 8 percent from last year and 14 percent among adults 18-49, the Los Angeles Times observed today (Monday), citing data from Nielsen Media Research. It remains, nevertheless, the top-rated show on television, trouncing its competitors by an enormous margin. "I wake up every morning and I cannot believe that a show in its eighth season is as dominant as this show is," Fox exec Mike Darnell, who oversees Idol for the network, told today's (Monday) Los Angeles Times. He observed that network television programs in general are experiencing ratings declines that have been greater than Idol's. "Even though the show is eroding a little bit, everything else is eroding at a much greater pace," Darnell told the newspaper.

SEACREST EXPLAINS IDOL OUSTER

American Idol host Ryan Seacrest on Friday confirmed reports that contestant Joanna Pacitti was dropped from the competition because she had business relationships with two executives of the show's production company, 19 Entertainment. The two executives were later identified as Michele Young and Roger Widynowski. In an interview with Fox News, Seacrest did not provide details of the relationship. He said, "[The producers] saw something, and there was apparently some sort of a link that, somewhere along the line, could be construed as one that's close to the competition, and they didn't want to risk it." He added, "Rules are rules and you've got to play by them."

ANOTHER BROADCASTING COMPANY FILES BANKRUPTCY

Young Broadcasting, which seven years ago paid $820 million for San Francisco TV station KRON-TV, which remains the highest price ever paid for a single TV outlet, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New York. The market value of KRON-TV plummeted when Young refused to consent to a number of demands by NBC and dropped its affiliation with the network. The station's ratings have never recovered, and Young had been struggling to meet interest payments on its heavy debt load from the acquisition. At the same time, its stock price has dropped to a few cents. Young also owns nine other stations in small-to-medium markets.

KIMMEL SAYS WEB WILL KILL BIG SALARIES FOR TV HOSTS

ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel has predicted that the Internet will so fractionize the audience that the networks will be forced to cut the pay of late-night personalities. In an interview with Broadcasting & Cable, Kimmel said, "I really believe I'm on the very tail end of television as a big money-making business." He said that as the Internet divides up the audience, talk-show hosts will no longer be paid as much as he is being paid now. (He did not indicate what his salary actually is.) "People will be making money, they just won't be making a lot of money. Even successful shows or programming will bring in small amounts of money." He said that he can't predict when "the golden age of making a lot of money as a television personality" will end, but, he said, :"I was lucky enough to get in before the doors closed."

FAIRNESS DOCTRINE RETURNING?

Responding to the overwhelming opposition by talk-radio hosts to President Obama's economic stimulus program, former President Bill Clinton said on Friday, "We either ought to have [the reimposition of] the Fairness Doctrine or more balance on the other side." Asked on Fox News Sunday whether President Obama supports the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine, White House senior advisor David Axelrod replied, "I'm going to leave that issue to Julius Genachowski, our new head of the FCC, and the president to discuss, so I don't have an answer for you now." Some analysts have observed that Genachowski is a former aide to Sen. Chuck Schumer, a strong backer of a new rule to reimpose the doctrine, which was scrapped by the FCC in 1987. The rule requires broadcasters to devote equal time to both sides of controversial political issues.

SAM DONALDSON QUITS ABC AFTER 41 YEARS

Veteran ABC newsman Sam Donaldson has told the Washington Post that he is leaving the network after 41 years. "Some people leave the business bitter, feeling they've been cast out, or they hang on too long," he told the newspaper. "And I don't ever want to get in that position." In fact, he may already have been placed in that position. The former White House correspondent and co-host of This Week and Primetime Live more recently has been relegated to co-hosting Politics Live on ABC's website -- "talking to an audience of dozens," as he puts it. Donaldson said that he did not ask for a contract renewal. "If they were going to push me, at least I jumped before they did."