i>HOUSEWIVES DOWN BUT NOT DESPERATE

Ratings for ABC's Desperate Housewives may be down somewhat this season, but Sunday's season finale handily beat everything else in sight. The show averaged a 12.3 rating and an 18 share, the highest-rated show of the night. Nevertheless, the numbers were 24 percent below last year's finale, which registered a 16.1/24. At 10:00 p.m., ABC's critically praised Brothers & Ssters, which has been making steady improvements in the ratings (and, some critics say, in its scripts as well), wound up in first place with a 9.0/15. Earlier in the evening CBS's 60 Minutes continued to dominate the 7:00 p.m. hour, recording a 7.7/14. ABC took over first place at 8:00 p.m. with the second hour of an Extreme Makeover: Home Edition season finale that averaged a 7.9/13.

DIRECTV ACCUSES COMCAST OF FALSE ADS

Satellite company DirecTV has filed suit against Comcast over the cable company's ad campaign in which it claims that customers who compare its HDTV picture with DirecTV's prefer Comcast's 2-1. The lawsuit accuses Comcast of false advertising and deceptive trade practices and asks the court to enjoin the cable company from "engaging in any further false advertising and promotion." Comcast said that it obtained the information used in its ads from a research study conducted by Frank N. Magid Associates. But DirecTV says that the Magid survey fails to substantiate the claims.

FOX BUSINESS CHANNEL TO TRUMP: YOU'RE HIRED?

The Fox Business Channel may not be marrying The Wall Street Journal -- as owner Rupert Murdoch had hoped when he offered to buy Dow Jones, the Journal's corporate parent -- but it may be close to catching Donald Trump. Speculation of a Fox deal with Trump became rampant over the weekend as the real-estate mogul announced that he has informed NBC that he is "moving on from The Apprentice to a major new TV venture." Last week the network indicated that it would not renew the Trump reality series next season but hoped to develop a new series with him. The statement from the Trump camp provided no details concerning his plans. It concluded: "If Mr. Trump's past TV success is any indication of the future, then one can anticipate that millions of Apprentice fans will be migrating to his new venture."

DISCOVERY TO SHUT DOWN RETAIL STORES

Discovery Communications, which owns The Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, Animal Planet, Discovery Health, Travel Channel, and Discovery Times is closing down its retail stores -- 103 of them. The stores account for 25 percent of Discovery's workforce, about 1,000 employees. It's the latest cost-cutting measure by the company. Earlier this year, 250 people were cut from the company's cable operations.

ABC JOURNALISTS KILLED IN IRAQ

A cameraman and soundman working for ABC News in Iraq were killed Friday -- ambushed on their way home from the network's news bureau in Baghdad. The killings of cameraman Alaa Uldeen Aziz and soundman Saif Laith Yousuf were reported on ABC's World News with Charles Gibson. ABC correspondent Terry McCarthy said that the American news media depend on Iraqi journalists to get the story of the conflict out. "They are really our eyes and ears in Iraq," he said. "Many places in Baghdad are just too dangerous for foreigners to go now, so we have Iraqi camera crews who very bravely go out, and without them we are blind, we cannot see what's going on." Clearly, such news gathering can be equally dangerous to the Iraqis. Of the 104 journalists who have been killed since the U.S. invasion in 2003, 82 have been Iraqis. ABC's Dean Reynolds, who spent nine years covering the Middle East, said that men like the slain camera crew "got the shots, the soundbites, the tips that were turned into stories. I got many pats on the back for my work as a result."

Brian B.