WILL HDTV LIFT SEINFELD'S RATINGS?

Hoping to lift its ratings after 13 years in syndication, Sony Pictures Television is planning to distribute Seinfeld in HDTV beginning Jan. 26, Broadcasting and Cable reported today (Monday). "Seinfeld is the greatest television show ever," SPT distribution chief John Weiser told the trade publication. "The time is right to deliver the show in hi-def and continue our efforts to introduce Seinfeld to a new generation of viewers. Now the quality of the broadcast will match the quality of the content." Seinfeld is only the third off-network sitcom to be syndicated in HD, after Two and a Half Men and Everybody Loves Raymond. In recent years Seinfeld has seen a slide in its ratings. Perennially ranked among the top five, it now frequently finds itself out of the top ten. It ranked ninth last week.

WHO SAYS PEOPLE WON'T WATCH TV ON SATURDAYS?

The upset victory of the San Diego Chargers over the Indianapolis Colts in overtime drew 23.84 million viewers on Saturday -- a night that most broadcast executives have given up as hopeless, filling their Saturday primetime schedule mostly with reruns, news magazines, and game shows. The game's 18.3 rating and 30 share represented the best rating for Wild Card Playoffs since they began airing in primetime in 2002. Opposite the game, Fox averaged a 3.5/6; CBS, a 2.9/5; and ABC, a 2.7/4. Earlier in the day, the Atlanta Falcons/Arizona Cardinals contest, won by Arizona, scored a 14.3/28.

SAG LEADER CLAIMS AMPTP WANTS "NO RESIDUALS, NO MINIMUMS"

Ignoring dissent within the rank and file of his own union, Screen Actors Guild National Executive Director Doug Allen has sent a second "Know the Facts" message to SAG's membership on Friday, asserting that "tough economic times are when it is most necessary to be unified to resist the studios' and networks' effort to obliterate contract provisions in our future work." His further assertion that the new media proposals from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers contains "no minimums, no residuals and the right to produce non-union whenever they want" has been hotly disputed by the AMPTP, which insists it will not alter its final offer to SAG, one that it maintains has been accepted by every other major union in Hollywood. "The 100-day writers strike -- which resulted in the writers receiving the same terms that the DGA achieved without a strike -- cost our economy $2.5 billion," it said in a statement. "A SAG strike would cost the working families who depend on our industry even more -- at a time when everyone is already under extreme pressure by the unprecedented national economic crisis."

CBS BUYS FIRST FRONT-PAGE AD ON NEW YORK TIMES

An advertisement for CBS has become the first display ad ever to appear on the front page of the New York Times. In its own article about the appearance of the ad, the newspaper called it the "latest concession to the worst revenue slide since the Depression." It conceded that the move is "regarded by traditionalists as a commercial incursion into the most important news space in the paper." Oddly the newspaper indicated that it could not learn how much CBS had paid for the ad. "Ordinarily, such space would be coveted by advertisers for its prominence," the Times said, "but it remains to be seen how well it will sell in the current climate, in which ad spending is plummeting."

EDITOR & PUBLISHER CLAIMS MEDIA SHOW PRO-ISRAEL BIAS

The trade publication Editor & Publisher has editorially chastised the U.S. news media for providing "largely one-sided coverage" of the conflict in Gaza and "little editorializing or commentary." Only CNN and MSNBC, the editorial said, had "provided some helpful balance" in their coverage, but the broadcast news networks' Sunday morning programs, it observed, featured Democratic leaders who "said little, or nothing, critical of Israel." Such imbalanced coverage, E&P said, comes in the face of condemnation of the "disproportionate" Israeli attacks by Amnesty International and equally strong editorial criticism in the Israeli daily Haaretz and outrage by its columnists. Meanwhile, on CNN, correspondent Paula Hancocks complained Sunday that "You can't cover a war from the sidelines," then reported that "the Israeli military has been coming by on a daily basis and trying to push us back even further. So not only are we not allowed in Gaza, but they're trying to push us back further from the border itself." The conflict, however, is being covered closely by the Arab news media. Indeed, an English-language newspaper in Dubai, Gulf News, ran a feature today (Monday) on whether children should be exposed to the pictures of civilian carnage appearing on television throughout the day. On its website, the newspaper asks, "How can parents balance the tasks of shielding children from shocking images and keeping them informed of happenings around the world?"