CBS EYES FIRST PLACE FOR THIRD WEEK

For the third straight week, CBS has dominated the primetime ratings, scoring solidly not only among viewers in general but also among adults 18 to 49, the demographic group most prized by advertisers and a group that had previously eluded the network. The network scored gains over last year in every major category tracked by Nielsen Media Research -- and was the only network to do so. It also placed six shows in Nielsen's top ten. CBS averaged a 7.3 rating and a 12 share for the week, well ahead of second-place ABC, which recorded a 5.9/10. Fox placed third with a 4.6/7, while NBC remained in last place with a 4.2/7.

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

1. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 11.8/18; 2. Dancing With the Stars (Monday), ABC, 11.7/17; 3. NCIS, CBS, 11.2/17; 4. Desperate Housewives, ABC, 9.7/14; 5. Dancing With the Stars (Tuesday), ABC, 9.6/14; 5. Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 9.6/14; 7. 60 Minutes, CBS, 9.4/15; 7. The Mentalist, CBS, 9.4/14; 9. Two and a Half Men, CBS, 9.0/13; 10. CSI: Miami, CBS, 8.7/14.

RATHER TO RETURN FOR ELECTION COVERAGE

Dan Rather may be long gone from CBS, but he nevertheless plans to anchor election-night coverage for Mark Cuban's HDNet from the Newseum in Washington D.C. on November 4 beginning at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time. In a statement, Rather said, "This coverage will be different than (sic) what the mainstream media will be offering. We'll go beyond the numbers and soundbites to discuss the projections for the evening and what the results will mean." Among those scheduled to appear on the program is Drew Westin, described as a "political psychologist" who "studies the way voters make decisions."

REPORTERS TO BE CHARGED TO ATTEND OBAMA FETE

If Barrack Obama is elected president next month, news organizations will have to pay $715 for each correspondent or crew member attending his victory celebration, according to ChicagoBusiness.com. They could pay as much as $1100 more if electrical and phone lines have to be installed for them, the website said. In addition they will be charged $935 for admission to the "press file" tent. News organizations are likely to file a protest.

CABLE OPERATOR SENT TO PRISON FOR PIRATING DISH SIGNALS

A cable-TV operator in Wagram, NC (population 780) has been sentenced to 14 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to pirating the signals of the DISH satellite network. Glenn White, who operated the Wagram Cable Co., was arrested by the FBI in July 2006 and his DIS receivers and piracy devices were seized. In a statement, DISH said that it "will continue to fight those who aid or participate in illegally breaking into encrypted DISH Network TV channels and settop boxes."

O'REILLY IS $10-MILLION-A-YEAR-MAN

Bill OReilly has signed a new deal with Fox News Channel that will net him $40 million over the next four years, the Washington Post reported today (Wednesday). In an interview with the newspaper, the conservative commentator/interviewer said that he had decided "to put myself through all the attacks and smears" from "the establishment media." He added, "I feel they're corrupt. They, I'm sure, resent me feeling that way." The Post noted that The O'Reilly Factor has been averaging more than 4 milion viewers nightly since last month but that his radio show has been far less successful in attracting an audience. O'Reilly said that he will probably give it up early next year. "My duties at Fox are expanding ... I just can't work 60 hours a week," he said.

NEW YORK CITY TO TEST ANALOG-TO-DIGITAL SWITCH

Analog transmissions of all TV stations in New York City will be turned off for two minutes beginning at 5:59 p.m. on Tuesday, October 28, ION Media, which organized the test, announced Tuesday. The test is aimed at educating the public about the planned switchover to digital TV on February 17. In a statement, ION Chairman and CEO Brandon Burgess said, "By addressing viewers' concerns early through these tests and our ongoing education campaign, we are ensuring that no viewer will be left behind."

CHERNIN CALLS FOR AN END TO FCC CENSORSHIP

News Corp President and COO Peter Chernin said Tuesday that the FCC should get out of the censorship business, maintaining that the commission's recent fines against major broadcasters, including News Corp's Fox Broadcasting, are a violation of the First Amendment. Speaking at The Media Institute's awards dinner in Washington DC, where he received the group's Freedom of Speech award, Chernin defended the network's right to televise a Billboard Awards show live in which Cher and Nicole Richie used language that is barred by FCC rules. The case is due to be heard by the Supreme Court on November 4. Chernin said that the case "hinges on utterances that were unscripted on live television. If we are found in violation, just think about the radical ramifications for live programming -- from news, to politics, to sports. In fact, to every live broadcast television event. The effect would be appalling." He maintained that Fox plans to "fight to the end" to be able to air "occasionally controversial, offensive, and even tasteless content." He noted that government censorship currently applies only to broadcast television and radio, not to cable or the Internet. "Does it really make sense," he asked, "to continue government censorship of the occasional bad word, brief nudity, or sexual innuendo on a handful of broadcast channels when we live in an environment of infinitely unregulated choices?"