NEWS SPECIAL GIVES NBC RARE WIN

Aside from its Law & Order franchise, NBC's scripted programming continues to be whipped by the competition. News is another matter, however, with NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams regularly pulling audiences that are larger than anything the network offers in primetime, and the news magazine Dateline often outranking rivals. On Tuesday night, NBC's news special, "Inside the Obama White House" at 9:00 p.m. drew 9.2 million viewers, well ahead of all other programs in the time period. On Wednesday, it counted 8.97 million, making it the most-watched show of the night The White House special on Tuesday, combined with the season finale of Law & Order: SVU, which captured 11.6 million at 10:00 p.m., gave the network a rare win for the night. It held on to the lead at 11:30, when the second night of the Tonight show hosted by Conan O'Brien produced the highest rating for the late-night show in more than two years.

DISH CUSTOMERS CAN USE THEIR DVR'S -- FOR NOW

A federal appeals court in Los Angeles on Wednesday blocked a Texas court's order that would have forced the satellite DISH Network to disable millions of digital video recorders. The Texas court had also ordered that DISH pay rival DVR maker TiVo $103 million plus interest for infringing on TiVo's patents. In a statement, DISH said that it was pleased by the appellate court's decision. "DISH Network customers can continue using their DVRs. We believe we have strong grounds for appeal."

FCC GETS MORE FUNDS FOR SWITCHOVER

In advance of the June 12 mandatory switchover to digital TV, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has set aside $10 million to cover the costs of call centers to aid Americans who may need help getting their TV sets working on that date (or perhaps discover for the first time that their analog sets require converters in order to operate). Locke acted on a request from FCC Chairman Michael Copps who indicated that the funds might not be necessary but that he would rather be overprepared than underprepared for the switchover.

MILLER LITE AD GETS NO "PROTECTION" FROM ITALIAN-AMERICANS

MillerCoors has pulled a series of ads touting Miller Lite's "taste-protector cap," in which Sopranos star Frank Vincent portrays an apparently Italian mobster offering "protection" to bartenders and convenience-store clerks, Advertising Age reported today (Thursday). The ads were decried by several Italian-American organizations for what they described as ethnic stereotyping. In an interview with the magazine, Lou Rago, president of the Italian American Human Relations Foundation, said that he told executives of the brewing company, "Look, if you agree with us you wouldn't have two black actors doing Amos 'n' Andy, if you agree with us you wouldn't have two Polish actors pretending to be stupid, and if you agree with us that you wouldn't have two Hispanics pretending to be gangbangers, then you agree with us that this is wrong." MillerCoors, he said, responded, "'It's Americana," ... I said, 'So was Amos 'n' Andy.'"

AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTER APOLOGIZES FOR COMEDY SKIT

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has been swamped with complaints after its satirical The Chaser's War on Everything aired a sketch spoofing the Make a Wish Foundation and concluding with an actor advising that there was no point to making the kids' wishes come true because "they're going to die anyway." Kim Dalton, the ABC's director of TV, and Julian Morrow, the show's executive producer, issued a statement today (Thursday) saying that the sketch was intended to be "black comedy." Nevertheless, they acknowledged "the distress this segment has caused and we apologize to anyone we have upset." Among those who were upset was the father of a terminally ill seven-year-old, who posted a message on the ABC website saying, "I will now have to go and accompany my wife who is presently consoling our son in his bedroom about his pending fate and agonizing death, which this show did nothing but exacerbate. ... What on Earth were the people involved with the show thinking? Not only the morons that came up with the idea of the skit but also all the people down the production line who approved it?"

Cinemark Movie Club