RATINGS FOR DANCING FINALS UP WITH THE STARS

The final performance show of this season's Dancing With the Stars on ABC stomped all over Fox's season finale of 24. The dancing contest posted a dominant 14.2 rating and a 22 share (19.75 million viewers) at 8:00 p.m. versus a 6.5/10 (9.34 million viewers) for the first hour of 24. At 9:00 p.m., NBC's Heroes ended the season with a strong 8.9/13, edging out the first hour of the season finale of ABC's The Bachelor: An Officer and a Gentleman, which drew an 8.2/12. The second hour of the 24 finale pulled a fourth-place 7.2/11, behind two back-to-back episodes of the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men (average 8.0/12). At 10:00 p.m., the second hour of The Bachelor rose to the top of the ratings with a 9.0/14, ahead of a repeat of CBS's CSI: Miami, which registered an 8.1/13.

SPARKS FAVORED TO WIN IDOL FINALE

Although ratings for American Idol this season are down somewhat from previous seasons, the two final shows tonight (Tuesday) and tomorrow are expected to draw the biggest ratings for any regular show this year. Fan websites are split fairly evenly over who will win, Jordin Sparks or Blake Lewis. Vegas odds give Sparks the edge (2-1) over Lewis (9-5). The website theonlinewire.com said that "betting on American Idol has become the largest non-sports-related wagering event of the season." In an interview with today's New York Daily News, American Idol judge Simon Cowell commented, "One is a better entertainer and one's the better singer, so it will be down to what they do" on the final performance show tonight.

FANS PROTEST CANCELLATION OF JERICHO

A massive campaign has been mounted by fans of Jericho, which got off to an impressive start at the beginning of the season but appeared to lose most of its audience following its winter hiatus. Those who remained loyal to the show have launched an online petition that has already been signed by more than 60,000 and have also posted thousands of messages to Nina Tassler, president of CBS Entertainment, protesting the drama's cancellation. A preamble posted on the website http://jericholives.com/fight.htm reads in part, "This show has touched us all like no other before it. It is unique. It is another high-quality show cast aside by the networks." The website suggests that the show may have "suffered for its success" since, it said, many viewers had decided to watch it on their digital video recorders and online. Tassler responded that she, too, had been a fan of the show "and we are humbled by your disappointment. In the coming weeks, we hope to develop a way to provide closure to the compelling drama that was the Jericho story."

HAS MURDOCH THROWN IN THE TOWEL?

It appeared Monday that News Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch would likely abandon his $5-billion bid to buy Dow Jones and its primary subsidiary, the Wall Street Journal, and metamorphose his planned Fox Business Channel into the Wall Street Journal channel. Several analysts wrote Monday that Murdoch had become frustrated with his inability even to arrange a meeting with members of the Bancroft family, who own a majority interest in Dow Jones.

LOCAL NEWS COMING TO CNN

CNN will soon be able to provide local news -- at least on its website. The Wall Street Journal reported today (Tuesday) that the broadcaster had reached an agreement with Minneapolis-based Internet Broadcasting Co., which operates the websites of 70 TV stations, to use local news from those websites on its own CNN.com. The cable news network reportedly hopes that the additional news content will allow it to sell online ads to local advertisers.

Brian B.