FOX TROTS TO FIRST PLACE

Thanks to a resurgence of national interest in the World Series and a solid fall schedule, Fox appears certain to win the important November "sweeps" ratings contest for the first time. In fact, the network said on Tuesday, it will most likely win by the largest margin of any network in five years. Fox observed that while other networks saw their ratings drop by a significant factor during the sweeps period, its own are up some 20 percent from a year ago. On Monday, the network announced its mid-season schedule, which impressed analysts. Not only does it include the return of such hits as American Idol and 24 but also the debut of two promising additions, the game show Our Little Genius and the action drama Human Target.

DONNY OSMOND TAKES HOME DISCO BALL

Donny Osmond, who had the advantage of spending a lifetime as a performer and commanding an enormous fan base, danced off with the top award, a silver disco ball, on the season finale of ABC's Dancing With the Stars Tuesday night. He beat out singer Mya and Osbourne family member Kelly. The show had been expected to draw the biggest ratings of any nonsports show of the season, but while its ratings were impressive, they were not overwhelming. The two-hour finale averaged 19.19 million viewers, but an hour earlier on CBS, the newly empowered NCIS beat that figure with 20.26 million, and its spin-off, NCIS: Los Aangeles gave Dancing a run for its money by attracting 17.18 million viewers.

LAMBERT: NO APOLOGIES

ABC was clearly in a no-win position Tuesday following its decision to cancel Adam Lambert's appearance on Good Morning America following his racy performance Sunday night on the American Music Awards. The network said that it did so after receiving more than 1,500 complaints about Lambert's AMA act in which he kissed a male band member and had another simulate oral sex on him. ABC said that it felt that Lambert's planned performance on GMA would likely not be appropriate for a morning audience. That prompted CBS, the perennial third-place network when it comes to morning programming, to invite Lambert to appear on its The Early Show. The New York Daily News reported on its website that hundreds of Lambert fans showed up outside the storefront studio, with one of them telling the newspaper, "He's a great performer and I thought I was going to die when [ABC] canceled the show. It was great of CBS to take this opportunity." CBS invited Lambert's mother Leila to appear on the show. Asked about the controversy surrounding his performance, she remarked, "You know, I was a little taken aback, but I just went with the flow, and it's all good." The important thing, she added, is that "he inspires so many people. ... That's the best part, just the inspiration that he brings to people." Lambert himself offered no apologies. "I do see how people got offended, but that was not my intention," he said. "I was looking out in the crowd and saw some of my favorite pop stars and thought, 'I want to let loose.'"

ONE THIRD OF HDTV OWNERS AREN'T WATCHING HDTV

HDTV sets are likely to be the hottest items flying off retailers' shelves on Black Friday, but a new consumer survey indicates that many buyers are wasting their money. Only 66 percent of them, the survey concluded, subscribe to any sort of HD programming. Analysts have long warned that many consumers believe that all they need in order to receive HD programs is an HD TV set. Even when they learn that they must pay an additional amount to their cable companies for HD service, they refuse to do so. "The disparity between HDTV ownership and service adoption reveals challenges for programmers," Maryann Baldwin of Magid Media Futures told Home Media magazine.

TIME WARNER TO PROTEST FEE DEMANDS FROM CONTENT OWNERS

In a kind of no-thanks message to the giant media companies that supply it with content, Time Warner Cable plans to launch an ad campaign on Thanksgiving Day blasting the ever-rising demands from the companies for higher compensation, the Wall Street Journal reported today (Wednesday). The ads indicate that subscribers will wind up footing the bill, saying, "No one likes paying more. Yet, every time our contracts with TV program providers come up for renewal, that's what we face. Price raises. Big ones." The ads seemed aimed in particular at News Corp, whose contracts with Time Warner Cable for its Fox broadcast network and cable channels FX and National Geographic are about to expire. If the two sides are unable to reach an agreement by the end of the year, the Journal noted, programming for those channels could be cut off for customers in several big U.S. cities.