OBAMA A STIMULUS TO TUESDAY RATINGS

President Obama once again proved to be a big audience draw Tuesday night as his primetime press conference attracted a total of 29.32 million viewers on the broadcast networks alone, according to preliminary Nielsen figures. CBS drew the most viewers, 9.89 million, followed closely by ABC with 8.70 million and NBC with 8.25 million. Fox was a distant fourth with 2.48 million.

IDOL, DANCING WAY AHEAD OF MADNESS

March Madness has not made its big move in the ratings yet -- although an overrun of Sunday's NCAA Basketball Tournament game helped push CBS's 60 Minutes, which followed it (with an interview with President Obama),into fourth place for the week, behind two episodes of Fox's American Idol and the performance episode of Dancing With the Stars. Otherwise the list of the top-ten remained largely unchanged, with CBS taking five positions, Fox taking two, and ABC, three. NBC's highest-rated show was Law & Order: SVU, which came in at No. 22. Overall, CBS won the week with an average 7.1 rating and a 12 share. Fox placed second with a 6.0/10, edging out ABC with a 5.9/10. NBC remained far behind with an average 3.7/6.

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

1. American Idol (Wednesday), Fox, 13.7/21; 2. American Idol (Tuesday), Fox, 12.3/19; 3. Dancing With the Stars, ABC, 13.3/20; 4. 60 Minutes, CBS, 10.4/17; 5. NCIS, CBS, 9.8/16; 6. The Mentalist, CBS, 9.8/15; 7. Desperate Housewives, ABC, 9.2/14; 8. Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 9.8/15; 9. Two and a Half Men, CBS, 8.5/13; 10. Criminal Minds, CBS, 8.6/13.

NEWS RACE GROWS TIGHTER

Among the evening news shows, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams remained the most-watched network newscast last week, attracting an average of 8.60 million viewers. But ABC World News With Charles Gibson closed what had been a growing gap in the ratings as it attracted 7.91 million viewers. The CBS Evening News With Katie Couric lost viewers, placing third with 6.08 million. The ratings gap between the top-two newscasts among 25-54-year-old viewers was even narrower, with NBC leading with 2.63 million, edging out ABC with 2.36 million.

DID PALIN SAVE COURIC'S JOB?

Katie Couric appears to agree with several TV critics who have remarked that her interview with Sarah Palin during the 2008 presidential campaign probably saved her job as anchor of The CBS Evening News. In an interview with Elle magazine, Couric calls the interview "one of the most important interviews I've ever done." Observing that the interview "really did have an impact" (some commentators have suggested that it cost John McCain the election), Couric added, "I'm also appreciative that people at that moment in time respected my work."

GEEKS RALLY FOR THE WOZ

Although it was generally expected that Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and partner Katarina Smirnoff would be voted off this week's edition of Dancing With the Stars -- they have the lowest scores among the judges -- voters at home kept them on their feet for another week. Reporting on the result, CNN commented, "What he lacks in technique, Steve Wozniak makes up for in geeks." The suggestion was that "The Woz," as he is known in the computer world, has been able to call upon friends to organize an online campaign on his behalf. CNN interviewed Chris Harrington, technology director for a Charlotte, NC ad firm, who set up a website, VoteWoz.com, who said that he and his fellow geeks are working "with the technologies that we know" to get the vote out for Wozniak via social networking sites. Standford, KY viewer Aaron Petrey told the cable news service, "Without him, there probably wouldn't be a YouTube, Twitter or Facebook. ... He's the reason why we even have a computer. I like seeing him on the show."

MORE BRUNO FRONTS DISCOVERED

Following the revelation by TheSmokingGun.com that four websites with such names as Amesbury Chase Productions, Chromium Films, Cold Stream Productions, and Coral Blue Productions were fronts used by Sacha Baron Cohen to trick people into appearing in his latest film Bruno, the websites have been shut down. However, TSG reported Tuesday that Cohen registered with Los Angeles officials the names of at least 27 other front companies that he presumably may be using to lure rubes in front of his cameras. According to TMZ, the "fabricated entities" include: German Youth Television, Rheinland Films, Channel 1 Switzerland, and Swiss Entertainment Television, and Deutsches Unterhaltungsfernsehen (German Entertainment Television).

EAST- AND WEST-COAST EMMY GROUPS SETTLE DISPUTE

The Hollywood-based Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the New York-based National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences have ended a long legal dispute over which group should hand out Emmys for broadband programming. In a news release, NATAS indicated that it would no longer challenge the findings of arbitrators and two court rulings. "In successfully terminating the proceedings, the parties have agreed that broadband content should be judged as television within existing primetime and daytime television awards categories, rather than as a stand-alone delivery platform," the two groups, which split in 1977, said in a statement. Presumably that means that NATAS will hand out broadband Emmys for daytime, news and sports and ATAS will hand out those in all other categories.