SPORTS VS. PIRATES (PITTSBURG EXCLUDED)

Responding to the growing incidents of online piracy of pay-TV, blacked-out, and out-of-area sports telecasts, some of the leading sports organizations including the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and NCAA, as well as Disney, News Corp, and NBC Universal have formed The Sports Coalition to lobby government officials for a more stringent response to piracy, Sports Business Journal reported Tuesday. Members of the group maintain that current regulations are inadequate. "In 2008, online live game telecast piracy went up in spite of notable enforcement successes," Michael Mellis, general counsel for Major League Baseball Advanced Media, told the SBJ. He said that sports organizations in the U.S. are allying with Europe's Sports Rights Owners Coalition in an effort to find an international solution to the problem. "There is a close and healthy collaboration among U.S. and European sports properties about how to approach this challenge," Mellis said. Indeed, a turnkey Sports Poll conducted in February indicates that principal piracy occurs outside the U.S., most frequently in China employing peer-to-peer technology.

HBO BATTLES MORMONS

In the latest incident pitting a religious group against the media, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has denounced plans by HBO to show a so-called Mormon endowment ceremony next Sunday. "Certainly church members are offended when their most sacred practices are misrepresented or presented without context or understanding," a church statement said. HBO apologized to church members who might be offended by its depiction of the ceremony, which is due to air on HBO's Big Love, but it declined to withdraw the show. "Obviously, it was not our intention to do anything disrespectful to the church," an HBO spokesman said.

IDOL CAPTURES THREE OUT OF TEN TOP SPOTS

Three American Idol shows aired last week and took over three of the top-ten spots on Nielsen's weekly ratings list. Most of the leaders looked familiar, with the exception of the season finale of The Bachelor, which posted solid numbers not only for its two-hour closer but also for the traditional post-finale wrapup, The Bachelor: After the Final Rose. For the week, however, CBS remained the most consistent winner, posting an average 7.0 rating and a 12 share. Fox placed second with a 6.5/11. ABC was third with a 5.2/9. NBC trailed with a 3.8/6.

The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:

1. American Idol (Tuesday), Fox, 13.8/21; 2. American Idol (Wednesday), Fox, 13.1/21; 3. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 12.7/20; 4. American Idol (Thursday), Fox, 12.2/19; 5. The Bachelor: After the Final Rose, ABC, 11.4/18; 6. The Bachelor, ABC, 10.0/15; 7. Two and a Half Men, CBS, 9.2/13; 8. Desperate Housewives, ABC, 8.7/13; 9. 60 Minutes, CBS, 8.6/15; 9. (Tie) CSI: Miami, CBS, 8.6/14; 9. NCIS, (Tie) CBS, 8.6/13.

IDOL'S UNLUCKY 13

Thirteen proved to be an unlucky number of finalists for American Idol. Producers of the show had previously purchased the telephone numbers 1-866-IDOLS-01 through 1-866-IDOLS-12 for audience members to use for voting. IDOLS-13, they discovered, was used for a phone-sex hotline. (Dialing it triggers a recording of a woman saying, "Hey there, sexy guy. Welcome to an exciting new way to go live, one-on-one, with hot horny girls waiting right now to talk to you.") On Ryan Seacrest's syndicated radio show, Tuesday Fox Broadcasting CEO Peter Liguori explained the matter and disclosed that contestant No. 13 had been given the number IDOLS-36. On the website TheBiz.com editor Hilary Lewis commented, "We know American Idol is Fox's cash cow and Ryan Seacrest is shockingly well compensated for a guy who doesn't do much particularly well, but does this automatically give him a direct line to Peter Liguori, the CEO of Fox television? ... We could understand if Seacrest called an Idol producer, but we can't believe the head of Fox TV took the time to address this and talk about it with Seacrest on his radio show."

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