LaKisha Jones wasn't the only one who departed from American IdolWednesday night. So did nearly nearly four and a half million viewers compared with audience figures for the comparable broadcast a year ago. According to Nielsen data, Idoldrew 24.49 million viewers versus 28.85 million last year. Nevertheless, the show continued to whip the competition as it posted a 17.0 rating and a 26 share in the 9:00 p.m. hour. Fox's lead-in show, Bones, also performed strongly, scoring a 7.4 rating and a 12 share at 8:00, well ahead of the series finale of CBS's Jericho, which posted a 5.0/8. CBS took over first place at 10:00, however, with CSI: NY posting a 9.0/14, just ahead of ABC's Lost's 8.0/13.


Cable TV operators could make available a new broadband technology, 25 times faster than the one currently supplied, throughout the entire country for about $2 billion -- compared with the $18 billion that Verizon says it will spend to roll out a fiber-optic system that will cover just 14 percent of the country, Comcast new-media chief Steve Craddock told a cable-TV conference in Las Vegas. "It's the kind of money we can find in the sofa cushions," he remarked. Although it was initially reported that the equipment needed to deploy the DOCSIS 3.0 broadband system would not be available for two years, Craddock described that estimate as "totally too late." Multichannel Newsquoted him as saying, "We'd like to get this as soon as possible" and adding that vendors are cooperating to help push up the timetable by 12-15 months. Doug Semon of Time Warner cable told the trade publication that DOCSIS 3.0 will allow cable operators "to create valuable new services that none of us have thought of yet."


In a rare instance of political confrontation with police authorities, the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists (AFTRA) has denounced the recent LAPD attack on media workers, which injured at least one AFTRA member, during an immigration rally in MacArthur Park on May 1. On Wednesday, AFTRA official Lawrence Mayberry called the attack, which has been criticized even by the city's police chief, "despicable and unlawful." The union demanded the institution of an LAPD media relations training program developed with media workers and the stations that employ them. It also called for a review of the relations between reporters and police at news and crime scenes and assurance that media workers will have access to such sites. AFTRA has been conspicuously silent about such encounters between police and media in the past. As long ago as 1967, when some 22 members of the press were injured by police during a demonstration outside a military induction center in Oakland, CA, AFTRA has silently acquiesced to police assertions that the media are not exempt from lawful orders to disperse.


Making him the most visible African-American newsman in broadcast television, NBC has named Lester Holt to anchor its weekend Nightly Newsprograms effective Saturday. He will also continue to co-host the weekend editions of Today. In effect, he becomes a kind of before-and-after Katie Couric all at once, wearing an apron on the cooking features of the Todayshow in the weekend mornings and doffing it for the more serious business of delivering the news in the evening. The website TVNewers quoted him as saying, "To anchor not one, but both of NBC's weekend broadcasts is beyond my wildest dreams."


Saturday's HBO telecast of the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Oscar De La Hoya battle drew 2.15 million pay-per-view customers, generating $120 million in revenue -- smashing the previous record of $106.9 million for the Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson bout in 2002. Word of the success came on the same day that Chris Albrecht, the chairman/CEO of HBO, was fired by parent company Time Warner following his arrest Sunday for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend in Las Vegas after the fight. In a statement, Albrecht said that he had agreed to step down "with great regret, at the request of Time Warner ... recognizing that I cannot allow my personal circumstances to distract them from the business." Albrecht is often credited with being the man who led HBO into original programming, eventually bringing it such shows as The Sopranosand Sex and the City.


Actor John Schneider indicated Wednesday that he intends to take the more conventional route of selling his General Lee car, used in the Dukes of Hazzard TV series, through a reputable automobile auctioneer. His decision came after a buyer of the vehicle, who bid nearly $10 million for it on eBay, appeared to renege on the deal and eBay accused Schneider of not accepting its advice to employ a third party to pre-approve bidders. In a statement, Schneider said, "When eBay decided to put my auction on their home page, it became their auction." Schneider noted that at one point the bidding had reached $6 million but that eBay had later scaled it back to $2 million. That figure, he said, "must have come from somewhere." Implying that he may take legal action not only against the reneging buyer but also against eBay, Schneider said, "When a multi-billion dollar company takes ownership of an event, in this case an auction, I believe they take responsibility for the outcome."