DICK CLARK STILL RINGS IN RATINGS

Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve With Ryan Seacrest, which aired from 11:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.,remained the most-watched New Year's Eve show Wednesday/Thursday although its ratings slipped slightly from last year's, according to preliminary Nielsen figures. The countdown show, which has aired annually on ABC for 37 years, averaged an 8.5 rating this year versus an 8.8 a year ago. Earlier in the evening, a primetime special featuring Clark and Seacrest dominated the 10:00 p.m. hour, beating a rerun of the usually top-rated CSI:NY on CBS and NBC's New Year's Eve With Carson Daly.

NEW YEAR SURPRISES IN TV RATINGS

New Year's Day produced some surprising results in the primetime competition. At 8:00 p.m., the last half hour of the Rose Bowl Game drew 13.45 million viewers. While figures for the earlier hours were not immediately available, the number of viewers who stuck around for the last half hour of USC's defeat of Penn State amounted to about half the average number who watched the entire game last year and a third of those who tuned in two years ago. The game provided a strong lead-in to ABC's America's Funniest Home Videos, which beat the competition at 8:30 p.m. But at 9:00 p.m., NBC's Deal or No Deal, which has been struggling in the ratings of late, jumped to the lead with 9.62 million viewers, edging out the beginning of the Orange Bowl, which attracted 9.42 million viewers. CBS's CSI remained competitive with a repeat, attracting 8.95 million viewers. Yet another surprise came at 10:00 p.m. when the CBS news magazine 48 Hours moved into the lead with 8.08 million viewers, almost the combined total of the competing NBC and ABC fare.

PATENT FEE CHANGE WOULD LOWER TV COSTS, SAYS GROUP

The consumer advocacy group Coalition United to Terminate Financial Abuses of the Television Transition (CUTFATT) says it will petition the FCC to overhaul its rules for digital television patent licenses, which, it claims, have allowed patent holders to charge manufacturers exorbitant fees that boost the average price of a TV set by about $30 over what the same set would cost in other countries, the Washington Post reported today (Friday). The newspaper quoted CUTFATT spokesman Amos Snead as saying, "American consumers are paying higher prices for digital TV sets and converter boxes and we think someone should stand up for them." The group wants the FCC to adopt a "patent-pool" system like those in Europe and Asia in which manufacturers pay a flat rate of $1 per set for all necessary patents. The group said that U.S. manufacturers pay a rate of $20-30 for such patents.

Cinemark Movie Club