i>HOUSEWIVES THROWS FOOTBALL FOR A LOSS

NBC's Sunday Night Football, which has seen its ratings slip against last year's this month, saw them take a big tumble Sunday against the season premiere of ABC's Desperate Housewives. The nighttime soap recorded a 12.2 rating and an 18 share at 10:00 p.m., while the NFL game between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles posted an 8.7/13. The first hour of the game at 9:00 p.m. placed third with a 7.9/12, handily beaten by ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, which scored an 8.6/13. Still earlier in the evening a football runover and 60 Minutes gave CBS a 9.9/17 By contrast NBC's Football Night in America took a huge dive in the 7:00 p.m. hour, pulling a 4.3/8.

NETWORKS PONY UP FREE "MAKE GOODS"

Because they were often unable to provide guaranteed ratings to advertisers last season, the television networks collectively owe them $150 million worth of commercials that they must provide this year, TV Week observed today (Monday). That figure, the trade publication noted, is between 50 percent and 60 percent higher than last year.

GROUP WANTS AIRLINES TO CLEAN UP MOVIES, TV SHOWS

The Parents Television Council, the organization principally credited with pressuring the FCC to step up and expand rules barring indecent language on TV and radio, is now taking aim an the airline industry. On Friday the PTC asked the airlines to remove all R- and PG-13-rated movies from in-flight entertainment consoles. PTC President Tim Winter said in a statement that he had personally taken several flights recently in which programs such as NBC's Las Vegas and ABC's Desperate Housewives were being shown -- programming that he said contained "sexual situations and coarse language." The PTC is pushing for legislation that would require "child-safe" areas on planes where such programs would be removed from the console remote-control devices in seats where children not accompanied by an adult are located and where parents would have the option block such programs when traveling with their kids.

ANALYST PREDICTS RATHER'S SUIT WILL RESULT IN "CRASHING DISAPPOINTMENT"

Dan Rather's $70-million lawsuit against CBS is likely to end in "crashing disappointment," regardless of who wins, says former assistant U.S. attorney Jeffrey Toobin, now CNN's senior legal analyst. "Civil litigation is a nightmare," he told the TVNewser blog. "It's a soul-killing experience, even if you win." Toobin called Rather's chances of winning "an extreme longshot."

UNIVISION INAUGURATES INFORMATION CAMPAIGN ON SWITCH-OVER

With many studies indicating that the overwhelming majority of consumers still have no knowledge of the fact that their analog TV sets will become obsolete on Feb. 17, 2009 unless they purchase special analog-to-digital conversion boxes, the Spanish-language network Univision has announced that it will become the first network to launch a campaign to inform its viewers of the change. Noting that the percentage of Hispanics who watch TV via antennas on their roofs is far greater than those in the general populace who do, Univision CEO Joe Uva told USA Today: "Hispanics could be uniquely affected. ... We want to make sure that they're the best-educated segment of the population about what it means and what they can do."

TV PIONEER MANULIS DEAD AT 92

Pioneer television producer Martin Manulis, best known as the producer and sometimes director of Playhouse 90, an anthology of live dramas that aired in the late 1950s, died in Los Angeles Friday at the age of 92. The series helped define CBS as the Tiffany Network in its early days. Several of its original plays were adapted for the screen. Manulis himself produced one such adaptation, The Days of Wine and Roses, which starred Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick. In 1954, he produced Casino Royale, the only James Bond novel ever to be adapted for live television. In 1985 he produced the 13-part miniseries, James A. Michener's Space, which covered the U.S. space program from the end of WWII to the manned landing on the moon in 1969.

Brian B.