MURDOCH MAY ADD WALL ST. JOURNAL TO MEDIA EMPIRE

Rupert Murdoch clearly had his plans for launching a Fox Business Channel in mind when he offered $5 billion -- representing a massive 67-percent premium -- to buy the Wall Street Journal and its other businesses Tuesday. Interviewed by Neil Cavuto on Fox News Channel Tuesday, Murdoch said that the acquisition would "help" the new channel. "We just want to have a business channel that lives up to the quality and traditions of the Wall Street Journal," he said. "If we could do that, we would do very well." Reminded that rival CNBC already has an exclusive deal in place with the WSJ that remains in effect through 2012, Murdoch observed that the Journal's editors also appear on Fox News every weekend. "We think there is plenty of room for us all to work together." Today's (Wednesday) Los Angeles Times cited sources close to GE, which owns CNBC, as saying that the CNBC-WSJ contract remains binding even in the event of a takeover. However Derek Baine of Kagan Research told the newspaper that Murdoch is prepared to wait another five years if necessary to bring the Journal fully into the Fox Business Channel fold, because he "is a real long-term planner." Ironically, news of Murdoch's bid was first reported Tuesday, not by Fox News Channel, but by David Faber on CNBC.

DOLANS TO PAY $10.5 BILLION TO TAKE CABLEVISION PRIVATE

The Dolan family, headed by Charles Dolan and his son James, plan to shell out $10.5 billion to take their Cablevision Systems company private. (The price would be nearly $23 billion when debt is factored into the deal.) The deal values Cablevision shares at $36.26; they closed Tuesday at $32.67, then jumped to $36.25 in after-hours trading. Analysts observed that the Dolans had twice attempted to take Cablevision, which serves mostly the New York City area, private -- and failed, and that this offer, too, is dubious, given the heady profits that cable companies are now generating following years of heavy investment in infrastructure. Nevertheless, the New York Times reported on its website today (Wednesday) that the offer had been accepted. Besides the cable systems, Cablevision also owns Rainbow Programming (AMC, Independent Film Channel), Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, the New York Knicks basketball team and the New York Rangers hockey team.

LOSING LOST AND OTHER HIT SHOWS

Pulling popular television shows off the air for lengthy periods of time and replacing them with iffy shows may harm them far more than simply running repeats, the latest Nielsen ratings suggest. ABC, CBS, and NBC each brought back former hit series to their lineups last week as the May sweeps began, but none of them produced the kind of ratings that they did when they were yanked. NBC's Heroes saw its audience drop 18 percent, from 14.7 million before the hiatus to 12 million after it (a series low). ABC's Lost suffered a 21-percent drop,going from 15.1 million to 11.9 million. CBS's Jericho fell 21 percent -- from 9.6 million viewers to 7.6 million. Meanwhile, CBS regained the ratings crown last week with an average 7.0 rating and a 12 share, edging out Fox with a 6.9/12. ABC placed third with a 6.3/11, while NBC rounded out the top four with a 4.4/8.

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

1. American Idol (Tuesday), Fox, 15.7/25; 2. American Idol (Wednesday), Fox, 15.6/25; 3. Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 12.9/20; 4. House, Fox, 12.6/19; 5. Dancing With the Stars (Monday), ABC, 12.5/20; 6. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 12.3/19; 7. CSI: Miami, CBS, 11.1/19; 8. Desperate Housewives, ABC, 11.0/17; 9. Dancing With the Stars (Tuesday), ABC, 10.8/16; 10. Shark, CBS, 9.2/16.

IDOL ROARS BACK

American Idol once again dominated the ratings race Tuesday night, improving slightly from last week to a 16.2 rating an a 25 share, although it was off from the comparable week a year ago when it posted a 17.3/26. CBS's NCIS provided solid competition as it scored a 9.1/14 in the same (8:00 p.m.) time period. Fox's House also continued to score strongly at 9:00 p.m. with a 13.1/19, but ABC's Dancing With the Stars results show gave it plenty of competion, registering an 11.4/17. NBC's Law & Order: SVU took the lead at 10:00 p.m. with an 8.8/14, just ahead of ABC's Boston Legal, which drew a 7.4/12.

VETERAN COMIC ACTOR TOM POSTON DIES AT 85

Tom Poston, who played second-banana roles on countless hit TV shows dating back to The Steve Allen Show in the 1950s and including The Phil Silvers Show, The Bob Newhart Show, and Mork and Mindy died Monday in Los Angeles at age 85.

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.