IT'S THE END OF THE WORLD FOR JERICHO

Armageddon has finally arrived for Jericho, the apocalyptic series that CBS had returned to its schedule following an outcry by vocal fans over its cancellation. The network said that it will air the series' finale on Tuesday. In a statement, CBS said, "Without question, there are passionate viewers watching this program; we simply wish there were more." The network thanked "an engaged and spirited fan base" that kept the program on the air despite continued low ratings. "We listened to our viewers, gave the series an opportunity to grow, and the producers put a great story on the screen," the statement said.

BASKETBALL DOMINATES WEEKEND FARE

March Madness reigned on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, as the NCAA basketball tourney led in the ratings each night. Still, the audience for the hoop telecasts was nothing to boast about, with ratings down by as much as a third from a year ago and as audience erosion throughout the network schedule remained evident following the writers' strike.

HOW AMERICAN IDOL WAS BORN

Elisabeth Murdoch, who recently purchased NBC Co-Chairman Ben Silverman's production company Reveille for $125 million and combined it with her company, Shine Ltd., has told the New York Times how her father, Rupert Murdoch, came to buy American Idol, Fox television's biggest hit ever (and likely network television's, as well). She said that she was watching the original British version, Pop Idol, and "happened to call my dad in the middle of the show because I was so excited. And he said, 'Oh, I think someone's shown that to us.' I said, 'You have got to buy it.' As one does when you chat with your family, you are very direct. So I was very direct. So Dad went off and said [to Fox executives], 'You have to buy this show.' And therein lies the luck of television." Asked if she could foresee a day when she might return to her father's News Corp, she replied, Yes, I could. Do I know how, or when, or what shape that would take? No. I don't really ever want to leave Shine. So I don't know how it would happen one day, but it's certainly not out of the cards."

MSNBC FIRST TO REPORT 4,000 DEATHS MILESTONE IN IRAQ

MSNBC became the first media outlet Sunday to report the milestone of 4,000 U.S. military deaths in Iraq since the invasion and occupation of the country in 2003. "Four U.S. soldiers were killed by a bomb blast in southern Baghdad late Sunday, raising the death toll for American forces since start of the war to 4,000, according to the Pentagon." Hours later, CNN indicated that the report was not entirely accurate and that the figure represented the number of coalition members who had lost their lives in Iraq -- and that U.S. military service members accounted for 3,705 of that total, including seven civilian Pentagon workers. Forty-six U.S. troops and 168 British troops have died in Iraq this month in a surprising rise in insurgent activity.

WEB SERVER REFUSES TO SERVE KORAN CRITIC

Another door has been slammed shut in the face of Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders as he continues efforts to show his film Fitna, in which he alleges that the Koran is an "enemy of freedom" and instigates violence and intolerance throughout the world. Following the refusal of Dutch broadcasters to air it, Wilders had planned to show it on the Internet on March 28. However U.S.-based Network Solutions, the host web service, said Saturday that it had shut down Wilders's site due to complaints. The site now features a notice saying that it is under investigation for possible violations of Network Solution's acceptable use policy. Wilders was defiant, telling the Dutch wire service ANP, "If need be, I will personally distribute DVDs in the Dam," the main square of Amsterdam. In reporting on the matter, the Washington Post observed today that "it may be the first documented case of Internet pre-censorship by a major U.S.-based Web registrar."

Brian B.