TV REPORTER TO BECOME SURGEON GENERAL

President-elect Obama has asked CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta to become the next U.S. surgeon general, the Washington Post reported on its website Tuesday, citing two sources with knowledge of the situation. According to the newspaper, Gupta, who is also a neurosurgeon, a professor at Emory University in Atlanta, and a frequent contributor to the CBS Evening News, has reportedly told the Obama transition team that he wants the job. In an interview with the Associated Press, CBS News President Sean McManus described Gupta as "an amazing communicator, explaining that he "has a way of breaking down the most complicated medical and health issues into language that everyone understands."

INAUGURAL SHOW ON HBO -- FREE

HBO has purchased the rights to televise the January 18 Presidential Inaugural Opening Ceremony -- a star-studded entertainment event at the Lincoln Memorial -- and will make it available for free not only to HBO subscribers but also to everyone with a cable or satellite connection. While the star-studded show is not being beamed over free over-the-air TV, plans are reportedly in the works to stream the affair on the HBO website. In a statement, inaugural committee executive director Emmett S. Beliveau said that HBO's track record "will help ensure an event that reflects President-elect Obama's commitment to holding an inauguration that is open, accessible and reflects America's spirit of unity,"

RATINGS DELAYED

For the second day in a row, Nielsen announced Tuesday that processing errors had caused it to delay release of its overnight ratings for Monday. Final ratings figures for Saturday and Sunday were also delayed, causing Nielsen to issue a statement saying that its weekly ratings would be released "sometime" on Wednesday, instead of Tuesday. (As of midday today they had still not been posted.) While Nielsen has experienced processing errors in the past, the length of the the recent delays were regarded as unusual. Tuesday's figures put CBS ahead in every half hour of primetime, scoring strongest with its new hit The Mentalist, which captured 19.56 million viewers in the 9:00 p.m. hour. (Mediaweek columnist Marc Berman observed that the show has become the biggest new hit series since ABC's Desperate Housewives and Lost.) Earlier, the veteran drama NCIS led the 8:00 p.m. hour with 19.06 million viewers.

TECHNICAL GLITCHES PLAGUE COOPER'S SHOW FROM ISRAELI BORDER

The technical production manager of Anderson Cooper's 360deg. on CNN has disclosed that the show was hit by a plague of technical problems on Monday as Cooper attempted to report from the Israeli border about the conflict in Gaza. "There wasn't much that went according to plan," Bruce Turnbull wrote on the show's blog, as he described microphones, earphones, and telephones going dead just before the broadcast and during the early minutes of the broadcast. "Did you hear voices in the background or see people scrambling around in the shadows?" he asked. "That was us trying to fix the problems."

OPRAH'S WEIGHT CONFESSION = RATINGS

There's one positive thing that can be said about Oprah Winfrey's 48-pound weight gain: it's good for ratings. Monday's Oprah show in which she talked about packing on the pounds and what she plans to do about it averaged a 5.7 rating and a 13 share, her third-best numbers of the season. according to CBS Television Distribution. (Although the talk show airs mostly on ABC television stations, it is distributed by CBS's syndication unit, which acquired the original distributor, King World.) Winfrey's latest weight battle is also featured in her magazine 0, which reportedly has seen a 10 percent slide in circulation during the past year.