BASEBALL FAILS TO DRAW A CROWD
Post-season baseball pretty much popped out Tuesday night as Fox's telecast of the New York Yankees-Detroit Tigers American League playoff game averaged a 5.1 rating and an 8 share, according to Nielsen overnights. NBC also failed to score with its new football-themed drama Friday Night Lights, which drew a 4.7 in the 8:00 pm. hour. ABC's Dancing with the Stars was the only physical activity most viewers were interested in, it seems, as the contest drew an 11.4/19 in the 8:00 p.m. hour, then went on to register a 13.2/20 at 9:00 p.m. Meanwhile, CBS's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation returned to the top of the Nielsen heap last week, followed by last week's No. 1 show, ABC's Grey's Anatomy. ABC's Desperate Housewives slipped to third place, followed by Dancing with the Stars and CBS's CSI: Miami.
FCC OPENS HEARINGS ON OWNERSHIP RULES
Critics of the FCC's plans to relax ownership rules that currently bar a single company from owning both a newspaper and TV station in the same market spoke out Tuesday at the first of a series of six public hearings the commission intends to hold on the issue. At a hearing held at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, Congresswoman Maxine Waters spoke out against granting the Tribune Corp., which owns the Los Angeles Times, a waiver to continue operating KTLA when the station's license comes up for renewal on Dec. 1. She read off a list of newspapers and TV and radio stations owned by the Tribune Co., then remarked, "If that's not concentration, I don't know what is." Others noted that programming strategy affecting the station was being calculated in Chicago rather than L.A. Tim Winter, executive director of the conservative Parents Television Council, told the panel, "When the local programming decisions are prohibited by a remote corporate parent, the public interest is not being served." Writers Guild of America President Patric Verrone observed that 20 years ago, 29 firms dominated the entertainment industry, accounting for $100 billion in annual revenue. That number, he said, has now been reduced to six "making nearly $400 billion." Producer Steven J. Cannell asked the commission to reconsider its decision to drop its so-called syn-fin rules that prevented networks from owning the shows they aired. He told the commissioners that previously he could take one of his shows elsewhere if the network that was carrying it attempted to change content or casting. (He said he had done just that with the classic The Rockford Files.) Now, with the networks owning a percentage of most programs, producers are forced to do the networks' bidding, he said. Director Taylor Hackford asked the FCC to require the networks to devote 25 percent of their primetime programming to independent fare.
HOW MUCH DID ABC KNOW AND WHEN DID THEY KNOW IT?
Conservatives charged Tuesday that ABC News was participating in "a calculated campaign" to keep the teenage sex scandal involving disgraced former Congressman Mark Foley in the news. On his syndicated radio show, commentator Rush Limbaugh charged that ABC's chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross, who broke the story (originally on ABC's blog), had known about the matter since August but had withheld airing it until closer to the Congressional elections. But Ross told the conservative National Review Online that his sources were Republican. Several liberal bloggers made much of the fact that the Fox News Channel repeatedly showed a picture of Foley during Tuesday night's The O'Reilly Factor in which he was erroneously labeled as a Democrat. (The label was removed during the late-night repeat of the show). And a writer on Arianna Huffington's liberal blog observed that a message from a former Congressional page claiming that pages were warned "to stay away from three GOP members of Congress" (only Foley was named) was mysteriously removed from the ABC News blog. (The message also claimed: "It doesn't end with the members of Congress; high-level staffers are doing the same thing!!")
"FREE SPEECH" COMMENTATOR BLAMES NONBELIEVERS FOR SCHOOL VIOLENCE
Two weeks after TV personality Bill Maher apologized for claiming that CBS had refused to allow him to speak out against organized religion on the "Free Speech" segment of The CBS Evening News, the newscast presented a religious activist who claimed that school violence was caused by persons who advocate "expelling God from the school." Producers of the program invited Brian Rohrbough, who lost his son in the 1999 Columbine school massacre, to speak on the program in the wake of the murder of five girls at an Amish school in Pennsylvania. Rohrbough claimed that the schools are replacing God with evolution and teaching that there is "no right or wrong. And I assure you the murder of innocent children is always wrong, including by abortion." Rome Harman, executive director of the newscast, told today's (Wednesday) Washington Post, "I knew that his remarks would be controversial, perhaps even offensive to some. I also knew that some people in our audience would agree with him. I also thought to myself, 'This is "Free Speech." We don't tell people what to say or what to think.'" But one writer posted this message on the CBS website: "How could you use an unspeakable tragedy to give a right-wing flat-earth nut job a podium?"
COMPANY ANGERED BY PRODUCT PLACEMENT, SUES
Ordinarily companies are only too glad to see their products featured on television shows -- particularly when they don't have to pay for the placement. Such clearly is not the case with suburban St. Louis company Emerson Home Technology Solutions. The company's In-Sink-Erator brand garbage disposal was used in a scene in the pilot episode of the new series Heroes in which one of the lead characters gets her hand mangled in the machine. (Since she has super powers, she's able to heal herself instantly.) In a lawsuit filed in federal court on Tuesday, Emerson claimed that NBC did not get permission to use the In-Sink-Erator on the program and that the scene tarnished the product's image.
DOWNLOADING DOESN'T HURT TV DVD SALES, SAYS DISNEY EXEC
Making TV shows available for downloading online does not affect DVD sales of the same shows, according to Disney CFO Tom Staggs. As reported by Home Media Retailing magazine, Staggs told a British investors meeting Tuesday that online sales actually boosted DVD sales of the second season of Lost. "That bolstered our view that we think this wasn't cannibalistic," said Staggs. "In fact, we think there is a good likelihood that this keeps people involved in the shows more deeply." Staggs said that during a two-month trial this summer, visitors to the ABC site downloaded 5.7 million episodes of Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, and Lost. This fall, four newcomers are being added, including Ugly Betty, Six Degrees, The Knights of Prosperity, and The Nine.
SATELLITE FIRMS TO CONTINUE TO RISE, CABLE TO FALL, SAYS STUDY
The nation's two home satellite companies, DirecTV and EchoStar's DISH, will continue to take market share away from cable TV operators between now and 2015 but at a much slower rate than previously, according to Monterey, CA-based Kagan Research. In a study released Tuesday, Kagan said that by 2015 satellite's market share will rise to 29.7 percent, up from its current 29.0 percent, while cable will decline to 61.1 percent from the current 69.6 percent. Cable will also be hard hit by expanding TV programming services delivered by phone companies, according to the study.