ELLEN TO TAKE PAULA'S SEAT ON IDOL

Ending weeks of speculation over who will replace Paula Abdul on American Idol, Fox announced Wednesday that Ellen DeGeneres will be permanently filling Abdul's seat on the judging panel. The announcement came as a surprise -- particularly since DeGeneres's name had played virtually no part in the public speculation. In a statement, the comedienne and daytime TV host said, "I've watched since the beginning, and I've always been a huge fan. So getting this job is a dream come true, and think of all the money I'll save from not having to text in my vote." There was no indication how much she'll be paid either. Abdul had reportedly snubbed an offer of $5 million per season, pointing out that host Ryan Seacrest had signed a deal for three times that amount. Appearing on her daily talk show today (Thursday) DeGeneres assured her audience that she would not be leaving daytime TV but would be holding down "a day job and a night job. The times we're living in, we're all doing that," she joked.

NEWS CORP WANTS VIEWERS TO PAY FOR SOME HULU CONTENT

News Corp, which is urging newspapers to put much of their content behind a pay wall, has suggested that television networks ought to do the same. On Wednesday the company's COO, Chase Carey, said that he would like to offer a mix of paid and free programs on Hulu.com, which News Corp owns with NBC and Disney. As reported by Mediaweek, Carey told a Merrill Lynch conference in Marina Del Rey, CA Wednesday that broadcasting "clearly needs to evolve to a healthier business model." There was no immediate comment on Carey's proposal from NBC and Disney. Meanwhile the website TheBusinessInsider.com reported Wednesday that Hulu now attracts more viewers per month than Time Warner Cable.

RATINGS REMAIN IN GUTTER AS SUMMER SEASON DRAWS TO AN END

The broadcast networks are ending their summer season on a low note. In fact ratings for some shows were so low last week that they were easily bested by some cable fare. Once again, NBC's America's Got Talent took the top two positions on Nielsen's ratings chart. CBS took the remaining eight of the top ten, with reruns for all but No. 10, the reality show Big Brother. The networks evening newscasts drew bigger audiences than most of their entertainment programs, with NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams again taking the lead with 7.62 million viewers. ABC World News with Charles Gibson remained close behind with 7.14 million viewers, while the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric continued to trail with 5.44 million viewers.

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

1. America's Got Talent (Tuesday), NBC, 7.7/13; 2. America's Got Talent (Wednesday), NBC, 7.5/12; 3. NCIS (Tuesday 8:00 p.m.), CBS, 6.6/12; 4. Two and a Half Men, CBS, 5.6/9; 5. The Big Bang Theory, CBS, 5.4/9; 6. CSI: Miami, CBS, 5.3/9; 7. The Mentalist, CBS, 5.1/9; 7. NCIS (Tuesday 10:00 p.m.), CBS, 5.1/9; 9. Criminal Minds, CBS, 5.0/8; 10. Big Brother 11 (Tuesday), CBS, 4.9/8.

OBAMA: WOULD CRONKITE HAVE FOCUSED ON SUBSTANCE IN TODAY'S WORLD?

Speaking at a memorial to Walter Cronkite on Wednesday, President Obama observed that while he never got to know Cronkite, he had "benefited as a citizen from his dogged pursuit of the truth, his passionate defense of objective reporting, and his view that journalism is more than just a profession. It is a public good, vital to our democracy." He then wondered aloud how Cronkite might have functioned in today's culture. "Would he have been able to cut through the murky noise of the blogs and the tweets and the sound bites to shine the bright light on substance? Could he still offer the perspective that we value? Would he have been able to remain a singular figure in an age of dwindling attention spans and omnipresent media? And somehow we know that the answer is yes. The simple values Walter Cronkite set out in pursuit of, to seek the truth, to keep us honest, to explore our world the best he could, they are as vital today as they ever were."

EX-ABC ANCHOR SIMPSON: "TV NEWS IS DYING"

Former ABC World News Sunday anchor Carole Simpson has suggested that she is somewhat cynical about the fact that two women, Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric, will be anchoring the nightly news. Simpson, the first African-American woman to anchor a network newscast, conceded that as someone who had worked for 30 years for the advancement of women in broadcast journalism, she ought to have been delighted by the announcement that Sawyer would be replacing Charles Gibson on ABC's nightly news program. "Why am I not?" she asked rhetorically. She then replied that Sawyer, and Couric before her, are taking over at a time when "broadcast television news is dying." She implies that TV executives probably concluded: "With fewer resources and the death knell sounding, why not put women in charge of the network evening news programs? ... Sad to say, but I don't believe the evening network newscasts, nor Katie and Diane as the anchors, will be around for very long."