NBC'S PEACOCK STRUTS AGAIN

Even as many critics continued to predict disaster for NBC's fall lineup, the network claimed the top spot in the ratings for the fifth consecutive week thanks to its NFL and RNC coverage. The season debut of Sunday Night Football drew 18.35 million viewers, while Thursday's NFL kickoff game drew 13.53 million. NBC was also the top broadcast network at the Republican National Convention, attracting 8.65 million for its coverage of John McCain's acceptance speech Thursday night. And its America's Got Talent trampled the competition on Tuesday night with 10.77 million viewers. Overall, NBC averaged a 5.8 rating for the week and a 10 share. Fox came in second with a 4.4/7. CBS placed third with a 3.5/6, while ABC trailed with a 2.8/5.

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

1. Sunday Night Football, NBC, 11.2/18; 2. NFL Thursday Special, NBC,, 8.6/15; 3. Fox NFL Sunday Post-Game, Fox, 8.1/15; 3. Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kickoff, NBC, 8.1/14; 5. Deal Or No Deal (Monday) NBC, 6.8/11; 6. 60 Minutes, CBS, 6.6/12; 6. America's Got Talent (Tuesay), NBC, 6.6/10; 8. America's Got Talent (Wednesday), NBC, 6.3/10; 9. Football Night in America, NBC, 6.2/11; 10. Bones, Fox, 6.0/9.

HOW HIGH THE DEF?

Underlining the conclusion that all high-definition television formats are not created equal, the Blu-ray Disc Association is insisting that the DISH and DirecTV home-satellite services are misleading customers when they claim that they deliver HD-quality pictures and sound equal to Blu-ray's. The association called the DISH and DirecTV ads comparing the quality of their HD video-on-demand with Blu-ray's "irresponsible and misleading to consumers." The Association maintains that HD distribution via satellite is not "technically capable of producing the quality delivered by Blu-ray players and Blu-ray discs. To that end, the Blu-ray Disc Association is exploring these claims further and will take appropriate action, as necessary, to prevent consumers seeking the ultimate in high-definition home entertainment from being misled." The BDA's remarks come as new studies indicate widespread consumer confusion over what constitutes "HDTV quality." Research by the website Strategy Analytics found that 15 percent of viewers in Europe believe they are receiving HDTV service, although the actual figure is just 2 percent.

DIGITAL SWITCHOVER COULD BE BOON FOR CABLE

Executives of the nation's two largest cable operators, Comcast and Time Warner Cable have told an investors conference in Los Angeles that they believe millions of new subscribers will sign up with them as a result of the switch from analog to digital TV due to go into effect next Feb. 17. Comcast President Steve Burke forecast 2-3 million and noted that they were not only likely to sign up for television services but also Internet access, phone service, and video-on-demand. Time Warner Cable COO Landel Hobbs said that his company is already seeing significant growth in the number of subscribers that is likely to increase as the deadline for the switch nears.

SETTOP BOXES NOT ENOUGH TO CONVERT TO DIGITAL, TEST REVEALS

Some consumers learned the hard way Monday that merely attaching a settop converter box to their analog TV sets may not guarantee them reception when the switchover from analog to digital TV takes place in February. The Associated Press reported that this week's test in Wilmington, NC indicated that many rooftop antennas are not capable of pulling in digital signals and that many may not be aimed properly at the local TV transmitters. In reporting on the Wilmington test, the A.P. noted that while only a handful of complaints came from Wilmington residents who were unaware of the test. However, it added, "While public education efforts have focused on making sure viewers are aware of the transition and the government coupon program, very little has been publicized about the potential need for antennas."

NBC RETURNS TO ITUNES

In what appeared to be an obvious face-saving ploy to allow NBC to return to the iTunes fold, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced Tuesday that NBC shows would henceforth be available at two prices: $1.99 for standard definition; $2.99 for high definition. NBC had pulled its shows from the iTunes store last year after Jobs had refused the network's demand for variable pricing. (Jobs had said at the time that the network wanted to sell some of its more popular shows for as much as $4.99.)

SURVIVOR'S DIARIES YANKED FROM EBAY

A former Survivor contestant who had attempted to auction off her personal diaries about her experience on the reality show learned late Monday that CBS had persuaded eBay to remove the listing. According to Broadcasting & Cable, Nicole Delma, who appeared on Survivor: Pearl Islands in 2003, included accounts of how scenes in the series were staged or reshot. The trade publication said on its website that Delma received a telephone call from CBS attorneys just hours before the auction was to conclude and as bidding for the diaries climbed to over $2000. Delma said that she asked CBS to provide her with documentation that they own her "life story." A CBS spokesman later told B&C, "The only thing more boring than a reality contestant being reminded about their [confidentiality] contract is the press coverage that inevitably follows."

MADDOW MAKES IMPRESSIVE DEBUT ON MSNBC

Despite escalating criticism over MSNBC's decision to employ unapologetically liberal commentators as its primary anchors, the debut of the channel's newest left-of-center anchor produced some of its best ratings yet. According to Nielsen Media Research The Rachel Maddow Show drew 1.54 million viewers on Monday night, beating out CNN's The Larry King Show, which attracted 1.38 million. Fox News Channel's Hannity & Colmes remained the leader among the cable news channels during the hour with 3.05 million viewers. Earlier in the evening, with Sen. Barack Obama competing against himself on Fox News Channel and MSNBC simultaneously, Bill O'Reilly's interview with the Democratic candidate was watched by 4.57 million viewers, while Keith Olbermann's was watched by 1.92 million. Running a distant third in the 8:00 p.m. hour was Campbell Brown's CNN Election Center, which drew 1.02 million.

Brian B.