SUNDAY WAS SUPER FOR RUPERT, TOO

Super Bowl Sunday, News Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch said Monday, was "the greatest day ever in the history of the [Fox television] network. We took in over $250 million in revenue. And it was a great game." Appearing on Your World With Neil Cavuto, which airs on Murdoch's Fox News Channel, Murdoch said that he believed the game was watched by "very much more" than the 97.5 million viewers reported by Nielsen in its "fast national" results on Monday. (Final figures are due to be released later.) Murdoch was interviewed in connection with the filing of News Corp's second-quarter results, showing a "modest" (1.2 percent) overall rise in profits but a huge 47-percent jump in operating income for Fox News Channel from a year ago. The company reported that for the quarter, FNC's viewership was more than 80 percent higher than CNN's. On Monday, FNC announced that Karl Rove, President Bush's former deputy chief of staff, will join the news network as a regular contributor, making his debut on its coverage of the Super Tuesday primaries tonight.

RUPERT AND LACHLAN: MORE CONFLICT IN THE FAMILY?

Lachlan Murdoch's venture with James Packer to take Australia's Consolidated Media Holdings private and to operate it on a 50-50 basis could deepen the divide between Lachlan and his father, the elder Murdoch appeared to intimate on Monday. Rupert Murdoch said that if his son, once regarded as his natural heir, is successful, it might present a conflict of interest that could result in Lachlan's dismissal from News Corp's board of directors. "Yes. If there is any conflict at all the board will certainly face up to that,'' Murdoch told the Australian Associated Press. However, he added, "We don't anticipate or see that at all."

WGA AND AMPTP: DEAL OR NO DEAL?

Negotiators for the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have reached an agreement on terms of a new contract and are currently constructing the wording of the pact before submitting it to the leadership of the unions and media companies, Reuters reported Monday night, citing two unnamed sources. Details of the agreement were not disclosed, and the sources cautioned that deals have fallen apart because of disagreement over contract language in the past. Soon after the Reuters report began circulating, John Bowman, chairman of the WGA Negotiating Committee, sent a message to union members saying, "Regardless of what you hear or read, there are many significant points that have yet to be worked out." Meanwhile, today's (Tuesday) New York Times suggested that the TV networks and movie studios are likely to alter their business practices in a way that would result in writers coming out of the strike with far less than they may gain. The networks, the Times indicated, are preparing to import more programming from foreign television producers, spend less on pilots, offer additional reality programming, and cut back on development deals.

MORE VIEWERS WATCHING TV SHOWS ONLINE, SAYS STUDY

Consumers are increasingly going online to catch their favorite television shows, with 80 million Americans, or 43 percent of the online audience, now saying that they have watched a show on the Internet at some point and 20 percent saying that they watch TV via the Internet on a weekly basis, according to a study by Solutions Research Group. The figures almost double those of a year ago. The most-watched shows online, according to the study, are Heroes, Grey's Anatomy, Dancing With the Stars, Ugly Betty, Chuck, CSI, House, Kitchen Nightmares, Smallville and Gossip Girl.

CAVEMEN RETURN TO THEIR ROOTS

Geico's cavemen characters, who bombed in a TV series about them, have returned to their roots in new commercials for the insurance company, Advertising Age reported Monday. They reappeared in spots on local stations in select markets, including New York, Dallas and Los Angeles, following Sunday night's Super Bowl telecast. "We felt we owed it to Geico Cavemen fans to see the next chapter in their lives after the show, and I think that's kind of what we wanted to do with this," Steve Bassett, creative director at the Martin Agency, told AdAge. In the spots the huckster cavemen criticize their TV show counterparts. The show also received much criticism from newspaper TV columnists and was placed on hiatus in November after six episodes were aired. Thirteen episodes have been taped altogether, but ABC has not indicated if or when the remaining episodes will be broadcast.

NETWORKS IGNORING IRAQ, 60 MINUTES' SAFER CHARGES

Veteran 60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer has reproached the television networks -- including his own -- for their failure to cover the war in Iraq adequately. As reported by the Hartford Courant, Safer, who has been part of the CBS news magazine's team of correspondents since 1970, told an audience in Hartford that while during the Vietnam war, the networks frequently aired documentaries about the conduct of the conflict, such is not the case with the war in Iraq. In fact, he said, television news tends to shy away from difficult subjects. "We don't cover the news anymore, we skim the news," he said.

VETERAN SOAP ACTRESS KEPLER DIES AT 49

Shell Kepler, who had a 23-year run on the ABC soap opera General Hospital playing nurse Amy Vining, died Friday in Portland, OR at age 49. The cause of death was not disclosed. Kepler began playing the character in 1979 and left the show in 2002.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.