The first game of the NBA Finals dominated primetime TV viewing on Thursday, with the ABC telecast attracting an average of 10.47 million viewers between 9:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m., peaking in the second half hour with 11.03 million viewers. The figures, however, were well below the comparable night a year ago when the network drew 13.38 million viewers for the first night of the NBA finals -- 22 percent greater than this year's figures. The results gave NBC a rare win for a Thursday -- a night that it once controlled completely with what it called Must-See-TV night.


With the nation's TV stations poised to complete the total switch from analog to digital transmission one week from today (Friday), President Obama issued a warning to those Americans who have not yet prepared for the transmission: "There will not be another delay." Observing that there remain millions of Americans who are not ready, the president said Thursday, "I encourage all Americans who are prepared to talk to their friends, family and neighbors to make sure they get ready before it's too late." The government, via its website, is continuing to offer coupons worth $40 on the purchase of an analog-to-digital converter box.


Raising concerns among journalists about their rights to cross police lines to cover crime scenes and other newsworthy events, a federal judge in San Francisco on Thursday tossed out a lawsuit filed by Oakland Tribune photographer Ray Chavez, who claimed that he was "arrested and handcuffed without justification" when he attempted to cover a freeway accident in 2007. Chavez, a 15-year veteran of the Tribune, who was named photojournalist of the year in 2008 by the National Assn. of Hispanic Journalists, acknowledged that Oakland police ordered him to leave the scene, telling him that he "didn't have any business here" and that he didn't "need to take these kind of photos." And that he defied the orders. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer said that the news media had no First Amendment right to be at an accident or crime scene if the general public is excluded.


Viacom chief Philippe Dauman, under fire for drawing a compensation package of $23 million in 2008 -- a $3-million raise over 2007 -- even as the company's stock dropped to a historic low, claimed Thursday that it is now "on the verge of a creative renaissance." Speaking at a shareholders meeting in New York, Dauman said that the recession had forced the company to streamline its operations and pointed out that its shares are up 19 percent from the start of the year versus a 3 percent rise by the Dow Jones index. He also pointed to the enduring popularity of such Viacom-owned shows as Sponge Bob Square Pantson its Nickelodeon channel and South Parkon its Comedy Central channel. The MTV Movie Awards special, he noted, showed a 92 percent ratings boost. And, in its Paramount movie division, Star Trekhas become the biggest box-office hit of the year.


Fox has decided to proceed with plans to air next Tuesday's episode of the hospital drama Mental, which features David Carradine as a man who becomes catatonic after being struck by lightning. Washington Post TV columnist Lisa de Moraes said that if the character had become suicidal or if the episode was "suggestive" of anything related to Carradine's death in Bangkok on Thursday, Fox would have pulled it. "Instead," de Moraes noted, "Mental stands to attract more viewers in light of the Carradine news." She added that Fox plans to air "some kind of Carradine RIP" at the end of the broadcast.


Following a viewer uproar over a sketch spoofing the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation has ordered its top-rated satirical show The Chaser's War on Everythingoff the air for two weeks. (In the sketch, titled "Make a Realistic Wish," sickly looking children were given a stick and a pencil case after they wished for a trip to Disneyland or a meeting with Zac Efron, and it ended with a cast member remarking that there was no point in granting the children "extravagant" wishes since they "are only going to die anyway.") ABC Managing Director Mark Scott acknowledged today (Friday) that allowing the sketch to air was "a wrong judgment call" that had "let down our audience." He said that the two-week suspension "gives the ABC an opportunity to complete a review of editorial approval processes. It also gives The Chaser [the satirical group that stars in the series] a chance to regroup and review their material."