BASEBALL SETS A NEW RECORD -- FOR TBS

With teams in some of America's biggest cities playing in Major League Baseball's Division Series last week, TBS was able to claim the biggest ratings in its 33-year history. The cable network averaged 5.4 million viewers, up 11 percent from the comparable period a year ago. Nearly half of those viewers -- 2.5 million -- were in the Adults 18-49 demographic. As expected, the most-watched series was the one between the Minnesota Twins and the New York Yankees, which averaged 6.6 million viewers. TBS and Fox will share coverage of the National and American League Championship Series beginning on Thursday. The figures, however, paled in comparison with the 21.8 million who tuned into ESPN's Monday Night Football game between the Packers and Viking, which drew 21.8 million viewers, biggest audience for any program in cable-TV history.

WITH IMUS, FOX BUSINESS BEATS CNBC FOR FIRST TIME

Don Imus's first week on Fox Business Network put him ahead of CNBC, FBN's principal competitor among total viewers, Broadcasting & Cable reported Tuesday. The trade publication cited "ratings data acquired by B&C" since the Fox outlet's audience is regarded as falling below Nielsen's minimum level for reporting. According to B&C, Imus averaged 148,00 viewers, edging out CNBC's Squawk Box,which averaged 145,00. The results, however, were likely skewed by Imus's premiere on October 5, which attracted 177,000 viewers. In any case, his latest numbers represented about half what they once were when Imus in the Morning was carried by MSNBC before his 2007 remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team got him kicked off the air.

IN LATEST RATINGS, CBS REMAINS POWERFUL; NBC, WEAK

CBS's long-running NCIS and its spin-off NCIS: Los Angeles dealt a powerful one-two punch to their competition last week. Together with The Good Wife, they captured every half hour of primetime last Tuesday night -- and, as it turned out, this Tuesday as well, although the second hour of Fox's Hell's Kitchen ranked No. 1 among younger viewers. The three-show combo helped lead CBS to another easy ratings win over its rivals, as it placed seven shows among Nielsen's top eleven (there was a tenth-place tie). But if the news continued to be good for that network, it continued to be dreadful for NBC. Aside from its Sunday Night Football telecast, the network's highest-rated program was The Biggest Loser, which came in at No. 33 among total viewers. Particularly worrisome for the network was the performance of its nightly The Jay Leno Show, which ranked no higher than No. 60 among 18-49-year-old viewers, the key demographic group. The Associated Press observed Tuesday that among those younger viewers, the show posted a 1.5 rating on Monday and a 1.4 on Friday -- putting it, the wire service noted, "precariously close to the 1.5 rating the network says it has promised to advertisers" before having to grant them free "make good" ads. Commented the A.P.: "If it were measured in traditional TV terms, The Jay Leno Show wouldn't be long for this world." The nightly newscasts lined up in the usual order, with NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams drawing 8.1 million viewers; ABC World News with Charles Gibson, 7.3 million; and The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, 5.3 million.

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

1. NCIS, CBS, 13/21; 2. NBC Sunday Night Football, NBC, 12/19; 3. Dancing with the Stars, ABC, 11.1/17; 4. Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 11/17; 4. NCIS: Los Angeles, CBS, 11/17; 6. The Mentalist, CBS, 10.2/17; 7. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 10/16; 8. House, Fox, 9.8/14; 9. NFL Post Game, CBS, 9.7/18; 10. Criminal Minds, CBS, 9.4/15; 10. The Good Wife, CBS, 9.4/16.

D.C. ANCHORS AT FOX STATION BECOME ONE-MAN BANDS

In a cost-cutting move, the anchors of Washington D.C. station WTTG are being required to operate their own teleprompters using hand levers and foot pedals, the Washington Post reported today (Wednesday). The decision has outraged some newsroom employees, the newspaper noted, quoting one as saying, "Instead of orchestrating coverage, fact-checking, handling breaking news, paying attention to the [newscast], engaging reporters, questioning authorities, covering bad writing and technical mistakes, anchors will now spend most of their time [running the prompter]. ... It's kind of like a literal one-man band -- singing, banging a drum, crashing cymbals, playing a trumpet and strumming a guitar . . . except we're not playing show tunes here."

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