IDOL IS ONLY SO-SO ON THURSDAY

American Idol, whose ratings often drop when it airs on Thursdays (it did so this week because of President Obama's address to Congress on Tuesday), did indeed see its numbers take a tumble Thursday night -- but so did just about every other television show. Idol averaged 20.7 million viewers, low by Idol standards, but good enough to beat every other show that aired Thursday night. By contrast, CBS's Survivor, which aired opposite Idol, averaged 12.3 million. Last week it drew 13.7 million.

IS HE OUT OF THE WOODS?

Tiger Woods's return to the links following his eight-month hiatus due to knee surgery proved to be a mixed blessing for both Woods himself and the Golf Channel, which covered Woods's comeback at the World Golf Championships Accenture Match Play Championship in Marana, AZ, which attracted 1.7 million viewers, the most ever to tune in to a first round on the channel. But after nailing down the lead on the first day, he surprisingly pulled out on the second. There were mixed reports about the reasons for his withdrawal, with some quoting Woods as saying that he was experiencing pain in the knee and others quoting him as saying that he experienced no pain at all. The Golf Channel has an additional day of coverage today (Friday) before sharing it with NBC over the weekend.

CONVERTER VOUCHERS STILL NOT GOING OUT

Although the FCC has permitted a third of all U.S. television stations to make the transition to digital -- and even more are expected to do so in April -- the program to provide more vouchers to help pay for converter boxes for people who receive their TV signals over the air is still without funds. A spokesman for the National Telecommunications & Information Administration confirmed to Broadcasting & Cable magazine that it does "not have access to the funding," despite a recent comment by FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein that the coupon program "is up and running again." The recently enacted Recovery Act, signed by President Obama on February 17, provides $650 million for the TV Converter Box Program.

TV NEWS PRODUCERS DEBUT DOCUMENTARY ON FESTIVAL CIRCUIT

Witch Hunt, a documentary produced by two news producers at KNTV, the NBC-owned station covering the San Francisco bay area from San Jose, is being screened at San Jose's Cinequest festival on Saturday after a long, roller-coaster ride. According to the San Jose Mercury News, the producers, Dana Nachman and Don Hardy, have made a separate film about their own experience of being rejected by top film festivals, including New York's prestigious Tribeca, before the Toronto Film Festival agreed to screen it earlier this year. The documentary concerns three Bakersfield parents who were convicted of child molestation and spent 20 years in prison before their sentences were reversed as a result of work by the Innocence Project. During the long process of trying to find exposure for the film, the filmmakers arranged a screening of the film for Sean Penn, who afterwards agreed to narrate it. He also attended a screening of the film when it was presented in Toronto.

SIMPSONS TO SET LONGEVITY RECORD

Fox has picked up The Simpsons for an additional two seasons, which will make the animated series the longest-running scripted show in the history of primetime television. At the end of this season, the show will tie the 20-season record held by Gunsmoke and The Red Skelton Show. Several non-scripted shows have lasted longer. Among the entertainment shows, CBS's The Ed Sullivan Show (originally titled Toast of the Town) lasted for 24 seasons, while among news programs, 60 Minutes, which launched in 1968, is still going strong.

WHEN WAS THE FIRST BASKETBALL GAME TELEVISED?

The U.S. Census Bureau, promoting the Famous First Facts area of its website at www.census.gov, has observed that today (Friday) marks the 68th anniversary of the first televised basketball game. The bureau noted that it was telecast on February 27, 1940 over NBC's experimental station in New York, W2XBS. The game, in which Pittsburgh beat Fordham 50-37, was played at Madison Square Garden.