ANOTHER BIG DEAL

During a holiday week loaded with so many reruns that it looked like a week in summer, live game shows, football, and the Kennedy Center Honors rose to top positions in the weekly Nielsen ratings. Indeed, the top-rated show of the week was NBC's Deal or No Deal on Monday night,which scored a 9.0 rating and a 17 share. The four major networks, however, averaged a 5.0 rating for the week, down from an average 7.3 for the season.

The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:

1. Deal or No Deal (Monday), NBC, 9.0/17; 2. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 8.9/15; 3. Sunday Night Football, NBC, 7.9/15; 4. NCIS, CBS, 7.2/12; 5. CSI: NY, CBS, 6.9/12; 6. NFL Sunday Overrun, Fox, 6.8/13; 7. 1 Vs 100 (Monday), NBC, 6.7/13; 8. Criminal Minds, CBS, 6.5/11; 8. Shark, CBS, 6.5/11; 10. Criminal Minds (Thursday), CBS, 6.4/11; 10. Kennedy Center Honors, CBS, 6.4/11.

EX-FOX NEWS PUBLICIST REPORTED TO BE SOURCE OF VICIOUS RUMORS

A former -- and possibly disgruntled -- publicist for Fox News has been identified as the source of rumors that Brit Hume, the channel's managing editor in Washington, has been having an extramarital affair with Megyn Kendall, a general-assignment correspondent for the news network. The online Radar magazine was able to identify the rumormonger as Paul Schur by matching the IP address of his computer to the IP address used to spread the rumor, which has been denied repeatedly by both Hume and Kendall. In a report appearing Wednesday, Radar quoted a Fox spokesperson as saying, "If it's true, it's unfortunate [Schur] has resorted to this." The magazine quoted insiders as describing Schur's recent departure as abrupt and unexplained, indicating, it said, "that he may have been trying to exact vengeance on his former employer." Schur has declined to comment on the matter.

IRAQ CLOSES DOWN ALREADY CLOSED STUDIOS OF SATELLITE NETWORK

The Baghdad offices of a satellite network broadcasting to Iraq from headquarters in Dubai have been officially shut down by the Iraqi government after a newscaster reporting on the execution of Saddam Hussein wore black mourning clothes and referred to him as "president." Official news reports had called him "the tyrant" or "the criminal." The network, Al Sharqiya, had already abandoned the offices two months earlier as its personnel came under attack, presumably from Shiite militiamen. A spokesman for the Interior Ministry accused Al Sharqiya of broadcasting false news and inciting sectarian violence. There was no interruption of the channel's programming, which has included protests of the execution by Iraqis who have fled the country. In an interview with today's (Thursday) Daily Variety, Saad Bazzaz, the owner of Al Sharqiya, said that it was "still on the air. Nothing has changed. ... We do not belong to that group of channels that represent a particular sect or political party. ... In Al Sharqiya, there are no Shias or Sunnis. There are only Iraqis." Bazzaz had been Saddam's broadcasting chief until he fled the country in 1992. Meanwhile, two guards and an unidentified official were arrested and questioned Wednesday in connection with the release of an unauthorized video of the execution that included a shouting exchange between Saddam and observers moments before he was hanged. National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie told the Associated Press that the guard force had been infiltrated by an Arab TV station.

NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO TO ADD VIDEO

National Public Radio is planning to add video to its morning news programming, Broadcasting & Cable magazine reported Wednesday. The trade publication said that in March, the public radio network will enhance its Morning Edition program with what it has called "NPR Rough Cuts," video that will allow listeners to comment on the program using their video cell phones. Additional video content will be unveiled later in the year, NPR spokeswoman Andi Sporkin told B&C.

FOX CANCELS THE O.C.

Fox's once high-flying The O.C. has been canceled after being trampled in its Thursday-night time slot by two of the top-rated shows on television. The number of viewers tuning into the Fox teenage drama dropped from 5.7 million viewers last season to just 4.1 million this year, where it has competed against ABC's Grey's Anatomy and CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. In an interview with TV Guide Online, creator/executive producer Josh Schwartz commented that having to vie against those shows represented "an impossible task" but maintained that the scripts this year were the strongest yet. He indicated that the series finale has long been in the works. "It's going to be a really satisfying ending for people who have been with the show for four years," he said.

Brian B.