NBC MAKES RATINGS 'JUJITSU' MOVE AGAINST ABC

In order to prevent being toppled by ABC's Good Morning America on the days that it aired Diane Sawyer's exclusive interview with Mel Gibson last month, NBC pulled all of its national advertising from the Today show during the competing time period, the New York Observer reported today. Calling the tactic "a little clever ratings jujitsu that went unnoticed by almost everyone in TV news," the Observer noted that Nielsen only measures audiences for programs that air national advertising. While hundreds of thousands of dollars in national spots were dumped out of the time period, Jim Bell, executive producer of the Today show observed, "We did not lose any money," since, in the end Today could report a larger average audience for the sponsored part of the broadcast than GMA. [ABC was also unable to capitalize on the Gibson interview in primetime, since Primetime Live, the magazine show that Sawyer once hosted, no longer has a permanent spot on the ABC schedule.]

CBS HOLDS BACK STRENGTHENED RIVALS, WINS WEEK

Despite stronger competition this season than it has experienced in recent years, CBS continued to lead in the ratings race, with all three CSI shows landing among the top ten, according to Nielsen Research. The news was not good for Fox, however, as, for the first time, not a single World Series game landed at the top of the list. The St. Louis-Detroit contest plummeted to a record low -- down 8 percent from last year, which also was a record low. For the week, CBS averaged an 8.0 rating and a 13 share. ABC followed with a 7.3/12. Fox placed third with a 6.5/10, edging out NBC with a 6.3/10. CBS's strong showing in primetime was tempered by the fact that the audience of Katie Couric's CBS Evening News program continued to decline. It averaged just about the same number of viewers as her predecessor, Bob Schieffer, drew during the comparable week a year ago.

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

1. Dancing With the Stars, ABC, 13.6/20; 2. NFL Overrun (Sunday), CBS, 13.3/23; 2. Dancing With the Stars Results (Wednesday), ABC, 13.3/21; 2. Desperate Housewives, ABC, 13.3/20; 5. CSI: Miami, CBS, 11.7/19; 6. Sunday Night Football, NBC, 11.2/18; 7. CSI: NY, CBS, 11.1/18; 8. Criminal Minds, CBS, 11.0/16; 9. 60 Minutes, CBS, 10.9/17; 10. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 10.8/16.

DANCING DOMINATES TUESDAY -- BUT NO. 2 SHOWS SHINE, TOO

Last week's No. 1 show, ABC's Dancing With the Stars showed an uptick in its ratings Tuesday night as it dominated the primetime schedule with an average 13.7 rating and a 21 share, peaking at 9:00 p.m. with a 14.4/21. Remarkably, CBS's NCIS was able to challenge the dance contest effectively with a solid 10.6/17 to place second in the 8:00-9:00 p.m. hour. according to Nielsen overnights. At 9:00 p.m. Fox's House also made a strong showing against Dancing, pulling a 10.0/15.

ESPN OVERWHELMS RIVALS

The top five cable broadcasts during the month of October were all ESPN Monday Night Football telecasts, according to Nielsen Research. The top-rated cable show of the month was the Oct. 23 New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys game, which averaged 16 million viewers in primetime, a record for the network and for cable television as a whole. The NFL games also put ESPN far ahead of its cable competitors with an average of 3.54 million viewers in primetime during the month versus 2.43 million for second-place USA Network.

EX-ESPN BASEBALL ANALYST SUES FORMER NETWORK

Former ESPN baseball analyst Harold Reynolds has sued the cable sports network for breach of contract, alleging that he was wrongfully fired last July after a female intern filed a sexual harassment complaint against him. Reynolds maintains that it was nothing more than a "brief and innocuous" hug. ESPN declined to discuss the matter. Reynolds was signed to a $6-million, six-year contract with the network last March.

DISNEY TO SELL ITS STAKE IN E!

The Walt Disney Co. will sell its 39.5-percent stake in E! Entertainment Channel to Comcast for $1.2 billion as part of a larger deal covering license-fee renewals for Disney's ESPN cable sports network, the Disney Channel, and other Disney-controlled cable outlets, the Los Angeles Times reported today (Tuesday), citing people involved in the talks. Comcast, the nation's largest cable operator, currently pays Disney about $1 billion yearly in licensing fees. A separate licensing deal with Time Warner Cable is also expected to be announced imminently. Both companies, the Times observed, are seeking an agreement that will allow them to sell Disney movies for viewing on demand over the Internet.

AL-JAZEERA SETS LAUNCH DATE FOR ENGLISH BROADCAST

The Arab news channel al-Jazeera announced today (Wednesday) that it plans to launch its English-language channel on Nov. 15. The channel's broadcasts will originate in Doha, Kuala Lumpur, London, and Washington D.C. Wadah Khanfar, director general of the al-Jazeera Network, said that the new channel, dubbed al-Jazeera International, "will provide the same ground-breaking news and impartial and balanced journalism to the English-speaking world." The channel has reportedly been unable to sign a major distribution agreement with any U.S. cable operator and is reportedly planning to reach American audiences via the Internet.

NBC CHIEF SAYS STUDIO 60 WILL STAY

NBC Universal CEO Robert Wright has denied reports that Aaron Sorkin's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is about to be canceled. In an interview with FoxNews.com's Roger Friedman, who originally quoted insiders as saying that the show was about to be yanked from the network's schedule, Wright said such a move was unlikely because "We have too much money invested in it. ... I think it will go on."

LONGEST-RUNNING GAME-SHOW HOST TO RETIRE

After 50 years as a television game-show host -- the last 35 as the emcee of The Price Is Right -- Bob Barker plans to retire next year at the age of 83. He holds the record for continuous performances on the same network show. In a statement, CBS president and CEO Les Moonves said, "Bob Barker is a daytime legend, an entertainment icon and one of the most beloved television personalities of our time."

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.