SEEMS LIKE OLD TIMES

NBC, which for years had dominated Thursday nights but was gradually overtaken by rivals CBS and ABC, roared back into the winner's position this week thanks to its game show, Deal or No Deal and a two-hour season finale of Celebrity Apprentice. NBC's ratings were more than double what they were during the comparable night a year ago, while CBS's were nearly half what they were then. ABC was down by a third; Fox, by a fourth. Deal drew a 6.9 rating and an 11 share to place first in the 8:00 p.m. hour, while the two hours of Apprentice that followed averaged an 8.1/13. Although the Donald Trump show appeared on the verge of extinction a year ago, Trump himself said at the end of Thursday night's show that it would be around "years into the future."

MARASH EXPLAINS EXIT FROM AL-JAZEERA ENGLISH

Former ABC Nightline correspondent Dave Marash, who raised eyebrows two years ago when he agreed to become the U.S. anchor for Al-Jazeera English, has told the New York Times that he has quit the news channel because it "is not the channel that I signed up to do." He said that the channel had reduced the editorial independence of its satellite operations in Washington, London and Kuala Lumpur so that it had begun to resemble more and more the Arabic-language channel. His own operations in Washington remained a two-correspondent affair, he said, and his editorial input "small at the start, has gotten smaller and smaller." In a separate interview with the Associated Press, Marash said that he discovered that there was a "reflexive adversarial editorial stance" against Americans at Al-Jazeera English." AP reported that Will Stebbins, Washington bureau chief for Al-Jazeera English, had told it that the network had decided to replace Marash as an anchor and use him instead as a reporter but that Marash had instead decided to resign. "We were sorry to see Dave go," he remarked.

50-YEAR-OLD ROD SERLING TELEPLAY TO SEE LIGHT OF DAY

Rod Serling's original 1955 teleplay based on the lynching of Emmett Till and the acquittal of his killers will finally be performed at a reading at Ithaca College Saturday, the Associated Press reported. Serling had twice attempted to have the story of the black teenager from Chicago who was murdered after whistling at a white woman during a visit to Mississippi -- a case that helped launch the civil rights movement -- but was thwarted by network censors, the wire service said. Andrew Polak, board president of the Rod Serling Memorial Foundation, told AP: "Serling seemed to struggle with network and sponsor censorship all his career but I believe his trying to tell the story of the Emmett Till case was the pinnacle of this battle." The teleplay was last presented on television in 1958 titled "A Town Has Turned to Dust," but Serling later said that by the time censors had finished with his script, "A Town Has Turned to Dust" had itself turned to dust.

AT&T TO OFFER ON-DEMAND VIDEO VIA PHONES

AT&T will begin providing live and on-demand television programming to customers buying its latest handsets, the company announced Thursday. It said that it is teaming up with MediaFLO USA to provide the mobile TV service on the new LG Vu and Samsung Access cell phones beginning in May. Full-length programs from CBS, Fox, and NBC will be available on the service. Although ABC programs will not be included, content from corporate sibling ESPN will be. Additional programming will come from Comedy Central, MTV, and Nickelodeon. In addition, AT&T said that it will provide two channels exclusively to its customers.

HI-DEF TV GOES ONLINE

CBS has begun to experiment with streaming high-definition video over the Internet. A special website (http://labs.cbs.com/HD_video) now displays two-minute clips from a number of CBS shows (including the recently canceled Jericho). However, while the picture quality appears strikingly detailed, the clips reveal numerous buffering issues, including jumpy scenes and video out of sync with sound.

ANTI-ISLAM FILM POSTED ON WEB

Dutch politician-turned-film-producer Geert Wilders was able to make good on his promise to post his controversial film Fitna on the Internet following the refusal of Dutch television stations to carry it. The film makes the case that the Koran instigates violence and discrimination and that Islamic extremists are bent on imposing their religious beliefs worldwide. Wilders found an Internet host, LiveLeak, to carry the film after it was rejected earlier by Network Solutions. In a statement, LiveLeak said, "There was no legal reason to refuse Geert Wilders the right to post his film 'Fitna,' and it is not our place to censor people based on an emotive response. We in no way endorse Geert Wilders, his views, nor the views expressed within Fitna." In the first 30 minutes after it was posted, the film reportedly received 1 million views. According to a description of the film in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, Fitna shows Muslim clerics urging their followers to kill Jews -- some calling for them to be beheaded. Another report quotes an Islamic cleric telling his flock, "We have ruled the world before, and by Allah, the day will come when we will rule the entire world again. The day will come when we will rule America." In 2004 Dutch director Theo van Gogh was murdered by an Islamic extremist following the release of his film which also criticized Islam. A news clip in Wilders's film shows van Gogh a few days before his death telling a reporter that he did not expect to be attacked.

OLDEST RECORDING DISCOVERED IN PARIS

The oldest recording in history has been discovered by U.S. audio historians at a Paris archive, Reuters reported Thursday. It was made on April 9, 1860 -- 17 years before Edison's invention of the phonograph -- by Parisian inventor Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville on a device called the phonautograph. The device converted sound waves into a visual image on a sheet of paper, but, unlike Edison's device, was not meant to be played. However, using modern technology the recording has been recreated digitally, revealing 10 seconds of a person singing. In an interview audio historian David Giovannoni said of the recording, "It's like discovering the world's oldest photograph and learning that the photograph was taken 17 years before the invention of the camera."

Brian B.