CBS PREVAILS WITH TRACE FINALE

CBS's decision to bring Without a Trace back to its old timeslot on Thursday night for its season finale paid off for the network as the show posted a 9.9 rating and a 17 share in the 10:00 hour, beating an episode of NBC's E.R., which posted a 6.2/11 and a preview episode of ABC's Traveler, which scored a 6.1/11. Earlier, CBS's Survivor: Fiji led the 8:00 p.m. hour with an 8.5/15, coming out ahead of ABC's Ugly Betty, which pulled a 6.6/11. At 9:00 p.m., ABC's Grey's Anatomy, with a 12.8/20, edged out CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, which drew a 12.0/19.

STRIP STRIPPED FROM NBC'S SCHEDULE

Marking the end of one of the greatest debacles in its history, NBC is expected to disclose during its upfront season presentation on Monday that it has canceled Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, the centerpiece of its presentation one year ago and a show that had reportedly cost it an enormous $3 million per episode -- or nearly $100 million over the past year (when marketing and other costs are reckoned). The series, from The West Wing's Aaron Sorkin, which amounted to a backstage look at a kind of Saturday Night Live show, had struggled in the ratings almost from the outset and had received mixed notices from critics. Nevertheless, until recently, NBC executives had voiced their support for it. NBC President Kevin Reilly insisted that he was a fan of the show and that it deserved time to find a larger audience. Meanwhile, the network has reportedly ordered five new hours of dramatic shows for next season, including a revival of the '70s series, The Bionic Woman. Further details are expected to be provided on Monday.

RAYMOND PRODUCER SAYS PRODUCT PLACEMENTS HURT SHOWS

Phil Rosenthal, the creator and executive producer of Everybody Loves Raymond, told a Congressional hearing on Thursday that forcing writers to work in plugs for products in story lines adversely affects the creative process and that tighter regulations ought to be imposed requiring broadcasters to label such product placements as advertisements. Rosenthal suggested that if Casablanca had been produced for television today, Humphrey Bogart might have sent Ingrid Bergman away with the line, "Now, get on that plane and enjoy United's nonstop service to Paris with seats that recline a full 180 degrees."

CBS EXEC: NEWS VIEWERS MAY PREFER "WHITE GUYS"

CBS News veteran Linda Mason, who was appointed to head the news division's "standards and special projects" unit following the "Memogate" scandal two years ago, has attributed the continued decline in the ratings for The CBS Evening News With Katie Couric to the fact that the public "seems to prefer the news from white guys." In an interview with the CBS blog Public Eye, Mason said she has concluded from the downward trend of Couric's ratings and the upward trend of Charlie Gibson's that viewers "want the reassurance of a Walter Cronkite." Mason suggested that she was surprised by the failure of the public to latch on to Couric. "I had no idea that a woman delivering the news would be a handicap. And I'm afraid that Katie's paying a price for being the first woman. But I think it's a great trail that she's blazing, and I think if the broadcast continues to be as good as it has been, if we continue to break news, if we continue to tell interesting stories, people will start to watch."

YOUTUBE DROPS VIDEOS SPOOFING THAI KING

YouTube today (Friday) agreed to remove all videos that the Thai government regarded as insulting to the country's king, following a month-long stand-off which saw the video website blocked to Thai users. But even as the matter appeared to have been resolved to the satisfaction of the country's military regime, the information and communication technology ministry issued news orders to YouTube late today to turn over the Internet addresses of those who had uploaded the clips, saying that they would be charged with the crime of offending the monarch, punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment. The Bangkok Post reported that as of Friday night, several of the clips had been removed but others remained. Earlier in the day, in a related developoment, it was reported that Google had rejected a proposal by New York's comptroller not to do business in China or other countries where it is forced to censor its search results.

Brian B.