HOCKEY TAKES ANOTHER FALL

Ratings for NBC's coverage of the Stanley Cup Finals, which fell to a record-low 2.6 rating and a 4 share a year ago Monday, slid even further -- to a 2.2/4 for the comparable game this year. The tiny ratings impacted the rest of NBC's schedule, which averaged a 1.7/3 for the rest of the night, which translates to just 3 million viewers. Meanwhile, the third season of Hell's Kitchen on Fox cooked up a 6.3/10. But CBS's series debut of the Claymation comedy Creature Comforts got off to a slow start with a third-place 4.7/8. The top-rated show of the night was a rerun of Two and a Half Men, which drew a 7.6/12 in the 9:00 p.m. hour.

MURDOCH CLOSE TO DEAL TO BUY WALL ST. JOURNAL

Rupert Murdoch met on Monday with members of the family that owns Dow Jones, which publishes the Wall Street Journal. Afterwards both Murdoch and the Bancroft family described the meeting as "constructive" but declined to provide details. Murdoch has offered to buy Dow Jones for $5 billion, but some members of the family have reportedly insisted on safeguards to protect the Journal's editorial independence. In its report about Monday's meeting the Journal cited a person close to Murdoch as saying that the media mogul was "encouraged about the prospects for a deal." It also reported that people close to the Bancrofts say that "the two sides are expected to reconvene shortly."

APPEALS COURT OVERTURNS FCC'S NEW INDECENCY RULES

A federal appeals court on Monday overturned the FCC's revised standards for determining indecency, when it ruled in favor of News Corp's Fox television network, which had been chastised by the commission for airing four-letter vulgarities during telecasts of the 2002 and 2003 Billboard Music Awards. Besides the incidents on Fox, the court also suggested that an expletive uttered by Bono during the NBC telecast of the 2002 Golden Globe Awards did not warrant FCC censure. The decision was immediately denounced by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, who used the FCC-banned expletives in a prepared statement. Martin said that he found it "hard to believe that the New York court would tell American families that s*** and f*** are fine to say on broadcast television during the hours when children are most likely to be in the audience." He said that if the commission is unable to restrict the use of such language, "Hollywood will be able to say anything they want, whenever they want." But, writing for the majority, Judge Rosemary Pooler said that the FCC's policy regarding "fleeting expletives" departed from its past policy and that it had "failed to articulate a reasoned basis for this change in policy." She described the FCC changes as "arbitrary and capricious." Several legal analysts cited in various reports about the decision predicted that the matter would be appealed to the Supreme Court.

NEW NBC ENTERTAINMENT CHIEF ANGERED BY LEAK

Newly appointed NBC Universal Entertainment Co-chairman Ben Silverman has castigated L.A. Weekly columnist Nikki Finke, who broke the story on her website last week that top NBC executives were planning to replace Entertainment President Kevin Reilly with Silverman. On Monday, TV Week quoted Silverman as saying, "I hate the blog world. ... It ends up interfering with people's lives. It messes with the process." The trade publication said that Finke's report "sent the entire NBC dealmaking team into frantic overdrive through the Memorial Day weekend."

BROADCASTING MUSEUM CHANGES NAME -- AND FOCUS

The Museum of Television and Radio (originally the Museum of Broadcasting), located in Manhattan and Beverly Hills, will -- as of today (Tuesday) -- be known as the Paley Center for Media, after the CBS founder and broadcasting innovator, William S. Paley. At the same time, the center said that it plans to increase the number of panels discussing the history of broadcasting as well as the industry's current operations. It is also reportedly seeking new ways for the public to access the 145,000 hours of archived television programs in its vaults. Today's (Tuesday) New York Times suggested that the Center is considering setting up a wireless Intranet cafe and perhaps even making some of the material available over the Internet to the public at large.

PAKISTAN SHUTS DOWN OPPOSITION BROADCASTERS

Pakistan is the latest country to crack down on television stations opposing the government policies. Britain's Guardian newspaper reported today (Tuesday) that the government headed by General Pervez Musharraf has shut down several stations since the weekend, including Geo News, which claims to attract 30 million viewers. The government in particular objected to what it called the "sensationalist" coverage of the dismissal of Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry as the country's chief justice. The Guardian reported that the Pakistani military leadership was "infuriated" by television coverage of a rally in support of the chief justice. The media clamp-down was denounced by the Paris-based Reporters sans Frontières, which called it "a new stage in the move back to the sinister times of state censorship."

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.