i>LOST A LOSER FOR FIRST TIME

Always a strong challenger, CBS's Criminal Minds edged out an original episode of ABC's hit series Lost for the first time Wednesday night, scoring an 11.6 rating and a 17 share in the overnight ratings to Lost's 11.1/16. (Lost, however, retained the lead among adults 18-49.) The Nine, which followed in the 10:00 p.m. hour, also saw its numbers fall to the lowest point yet this season, a 5.5/9. The top-rated show of the night was the results episode of Dancing With the Stars on ABC, which recorded a 13.4/20. However, CBS's Jericho, which had been showing signs of strength against Dancing, turned in its worst showing of the season with a 6.1/9. CBS's CSI: NY handily won the 10:00 p.m. hour with an 11.4/19.

KIDNAPPED RELEASED TO THE WEB

NBC has found a novel solution to the problem of what to do about a serialized TV drama that has attracted millions of fans -- but not enough millions to justify keeping it on the air. That has been the case of the critically praised Kidnapped, which failed to capture a significant audience when it was launched on Wednesday nights against strong competition. When the network moved it to Saturday night, the lowest-rated night of the week, the audience slumped even further -- especially since many potential viewers had not been able to follow the serialized plot. The program has now been yanked from the network altogether. But so as not to upset the remaining fans of the series, NBC has decided to air the final eight episodes of Kidnapped on the Internet, on NBC.com, following the November sweeps.

COURIC: I JUMPED SHIP FOR 60 MINUTES

Katie Couric suggested Wednesday night that the opportunity to report for 60 Minutes played a greater role in her decision to leave NBC for CBS than the offer to anchor the CBS Evening News. When CNN's Larry King asked her about the falling ratings for her nightly newscast, she replied, "I didn't take this job for ratings. I took this job for the challenge and for the ability to really work on editorial content, to do serious news stories, the opportunity to work on 60 Minutes, which I think is the only true journalistically superior magazine show on television. I've always dreamed of working on that show." At NBC, Couric, besides co-hosting the Today show, contributed features to the network's Dateline news magazine.

CSI: NY A MEDIA THREESOME

In the latest ménage à trois involving TV, mobile phones, and the Internet, CBS on Wednesday launched "CSI: Q," an interactive game tied to CSI:NY, in which viewers are invited to predict the outcome of some episodes and possibly win $10,000. They will be able either to pay 99 cents to answer via text messaging on their cell phones or -- for free -- to do so via the Internet. Besides Wednesday's broadcast, the network plans to run the contest on CSI: NY episodes on Nov. 8 and Nov. 15.

PARENTS TELEVISION COUNCIL RATES TOP 20

L. Brent Bozell's Parents Television Council, the conservative TV watchdog organization responsible for generating thousands of complaints about content to the FCC, has issued its own analysis of the top 20 TV shows watched by children ages 2-17, listing them under the headings "most suitable," "questionably suitable," and "not suitable." All of the shows in the most suitable list are unscripted; those in the not suitable list comprise the nation's most favorite, including Lost, Desperate Housewives, and Grey's Anatomy. In fact, said Bozell in a statement, "Every single scripted show that children watch is characterized by graphic sexual content, violence, and coarse language."

TELEMUNDO DECISION TO REGIONALIZE NEWS RANKLES EX-ANCHOR

NBC Universal's decision to replace local Spanish-language newscasts on six Telemundo stations with a regional newscast originating from Ft. Worth, TX is generating a storm of controversy at the stations themselves. New America Media, an ethnic media watchdog, quoted Celina Rodriguez, who anchored Telemundo's newscast in San Jose, as saying, "It was supposed to be good news when NBC bought Telemundo because NBC has lots of resources. ... This is a big loss for the community. For a huge number of people, local news is part of their life." Iván Román, executive director of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, while acknowledging that Telemundo has been losing money every month, nevertheless commented, "English-language media does not cover the Latino community the way Spanish-language media does. ... With fewer journalists covering the Hispanic community, they [Telemundo] are diminishing their service to Latinos."

Brian B.