Barely hours after reports appeared indicating that Nielsen Media Research had decided not to issue its daily ratings reports from Friday of last week until Thursday of this week because of the digital transition, the company presumably determined that the transition had made an insignificant impact on overall TV watching, and it began releasing preliminary ratings data again. Most industry interest focused on Sunday's telecast of the fifth and final game of the NBA Championship series between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Orlando Magic, which the Lakers won by a score of 99-86. The three-hour telecast drew 10.12 million viewers, down from 14.94 million a year ago for the Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Lakers, but up from the 9.29 million who tuned in to the San Antonio/Cleveland contest in 2007. Earlier in the evening the Jimmy Kimmel Live/NBA Countdown telecast drew 8.13 million viewers. Ratings results for the night did not appear to have been affected at all by the analog-to-digital transition, leading some to conclude that most of those 2 million Americans who were "completely unprepared" for the transition probably don't watch TV anyway.

IRAN CRACKS DOWN ON FOREIGN MEDIA

Iran has closed the Tehran bureau of Al-Arabiya, the Saudi-Arabian-backed competitor of the Al-Jazeera satellite news channel. The government also acted to shut down Internet communication among protesters sympathetic to reformist Mir Hossein Mousavi, who lost last weekend's presidential election to Mahmoud Ahmedinejad amid widespread accusations of election rigging. The protesters fought back by hacking the websites of the government-run news agencies IRNA and FARS and Press TV. Websites of leading official radio and TV stations were also down as of this morning (Tuesday). Meanwhile, CNN is denying complaints that it has been lax in covering the Iranian post-election protests. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, a CNN spokesperson said, "We share people's expectations of CNN and have delivered far more coverage of the Iranian election and aftermath than any other network." But clearly Western media outlets are having a difficult time covering the demonstrations. The BBC said today that it was barred by "tough new restrictions on the foreign media" from covering a demonstration in northern Tehran on Monday that was reportedly the largest yet.

LETTERMAN APOLOGIZES TO PALIN -- AGAIN

David Letterman on his Monday-night Late Night show apologized a second time for his joke about Sarah Palin's daughter. This time, he appeared less off-handed in his apology than he did last week. "I told a joke that was beyond flawed, and my intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception" by many viewers, he said. "It's not your fault that it was misunderstood, it's my fault." Letterman said that needed "to do the right thing here and apologize." He concluded: "I would like to apologize especially to the two daughters involved, Bristol and Willow, and also to the Governor and her family and everybody else who was outraged by the joke. I'm sorry about it and I'll try to do better in the future." Palin later issued a statement saying that she accepted the apology "on behalf of all young women, like my daughters, who hope men who 'joke' about public displays of sexual exploitation of girls will soon evolve." However, on CNN's Larry King Live, comedian Jeff Foxworthy, who said that he was the father of two teenage girls, came to Letterman's defense. "As a comedian, you look at what Dave does," Foxworthy said. "You're trying to do this night after night, year after year, decade after decade -- at some point in the road, are you going to throw one out there you shouldn't have? Yeah." Indeed, Letterman himself remarked that he had received a phone call from his mother earlier in the day telling him that she was siding with Palin. And, in a feature, the Washington Post asked today, "Did Sarah Palin not notice when late-night comedians were making fun of her daughter's pregnancy last fall?" It quoted several of their jokes, including one by Letterman's now direct competitor Conan O'Brien, which came uncannily close to Letterman's own: "Sarah Palin is going to drop the first puck at the Philadelphia Flyers hockey game," O'Brien said. "Then Palin will spend the rest of the game trying to keep the hockey players out of her daughter's penalty box."

TELEVISION FACING UPSTREAM BATTLE

Suggesting that streaming media may be on the verge of taking over much of broadcasting and cable's business, a new study forecasts that it will grow at a compound annual rate of 27 percent over the next five years and generate more than $78 billion in revenue. In a statement accompanying the study by Boonton, NJ-based Insight Research Corp., the market researcher's president, Robert Rosenberg, said, "The advertising revenue that long supported traditional TV is gravitating to this new medium [streaming video], putting downward pressure on traditional TV distribution schemes."

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