i>IDOL COSTLIEST SHOW FOR AD BUYERS

Buying a 30-second spot on Fox's American Idol will set advertisers back as much as $700,000 when the show debuts at midseason, Advertising Age reported today (Friday), citing a survey of media agencies. It marks the third consecutive year that Idol has held the top spot as the most expensive regular series for advertisers. The trade publication observed that some marketers will pay significantly less for a spot, when the show returns in January -- depending on the number of spots they buy on it throughout the season and their overall ad commitment to the Fox network. Also, commercials running on the final nights of the talent contest will cost considerably more than those running at the beginning. Fox's House ranks as the second most-expensive regular show, followed by ABC's Desperate Housewives and NBC's Sunday Night Football.

CW MAKES SOLID DEBUT

The new CW network came into the world kicking Wednesday night as its America's Next Top Model drew its biggest audience to date, despite the fact that most of its audience had to find it on a different channel than the one they watched it on last season. "Our goal was by the end of the season to get all the viewers back," CW Entertainment President Dawn Ostroff told today's (Friday) Daily Variety. "But to have grown on Top Model -- that was beyond our expectation." CW, which is owned 50-50 by CBS and Warner Bros. is composed of some of the stations of the old UPN network and others from the old WB network. Model aired on UPN last season.

VIEWERS SPENDING MORE TIME IN FRONT OF TV SETS

Despite increased competition from the Internet, video games, and the like, television viewing increased last season, with the average American home keeping their TV sets turned on 8 hours and 14 minutes per day -- up from 8 hours and 11 minutes a year earlier, according to Nielsen Research. "A lot of people thought that as we entered the 21st century, there was only so much TV that people could watch," Robert Thompson, professor of television and pop culture at Syracuse University, told today's (Friday) Los Angeles Times. "And others have said that because of new media, the TV era was somehow over. But TV viewership numbers are going up, and just because there's a revolutionary new challenge from things like YouTube and such, it doesn't mean the fusty old medium of a television set is disappearing. It's not going anywhere." The TV audience is migrating steadily from broadcast networks to cable, however, the study indicated.

NETWORKS ASK FCC TO ALTER COURSE ON INDECENCY

The FCC's crackdown on indecency threatens to do away with all live broadcasting, most of the major TV networks have told the government regulator. It has also resulted in the cancellation of some programs and others being jammed into late-night hours, the networks said in a filing on Thursday. They also argued that the FCC has yet to define indecency, pointing out that the same language that was used in Saving Private Ryan, which the agency permitted, resulted in a fine when it was used during the airing of Martin Scorsese's documentary The Blues. "This assertion of 'we know it when we see it' -- or worse, 'we know it when someone with influence on us says we see it' -- is not a plainly expressed legal standard," the networks wrote. On the other hand, the Parents Television Council, the group that spearheaded the FCC crackdown, demanded that the FCC "vigorously enforce the law as written and to carefully adjudicate the hundreds of thousands of indecency complaints from the American people." Virtually all of the hundreds of thousands of complaints were generated directly by the PTC. "It is clear that the broadcast networks would prefer to assert a 'right' to air unlimited profanity at any time of day, rather than submit to the established and reasonable principle of protecting children between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.," the PTC said.

HOW "SMART" IS RELEASING FIVE SEASONS OF A SINGLE SERIES?

Get Smart might not rank as one of television's most memorable classics, but the DVD release of the series, which originally aired between 1965 and 1970, will be memorable in its own right as the first ever to be issued in its entirety -- 138 episodes on 25 discs. The series was restored from the original negatives and each episode will contain all of the earlier scenes, unlike the versions that were shortened for subsequent syndication. Repackaged by HBO Video, the DVD package, which will be priced at $199.95, will initially be available only via corporate sibling Time-Life Video's website until the fall of next year, when it will then be distributed to retail stores. The package will also include more than 10 hours of "extras."

FOX NEWS TAKES JABS AT VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT, U.N.

Even Fox News Channel itself is not likely to boast that its coverage of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez speech to the U.N. last week was entirely "fair and balanced." The TVNewser website today (Friday) cited a number of questions posed by the cable news network on the lower-third of its screen following the address. They included: 7:16pm: "Pres Chavez: Narcissistic personality disorder?"; 10:54am: "How dare Hugo Chavez blast the United States?"; 11:02am: "Should we stop buying Chavez's gas from [Venezuela-owned] Citgo stations?"; 11:59am: "Chavez insults U.S.: Where is the outrage?"; 12:29pm: "Should U.S. continue to fund U.N. after applause for Chavez?"; 12:54pm: "Will leaders pay the price for supporting Chavez?"; 1:26pm: "Is President Chavez becoming a threat to U.S. national security?"; 4:06pm: "Taking cheap oil from Hugo Chavez: Act of treason?"; 5:34pm: "NY audience gives Chavez standing ovation... Why?" Also, the comment: "U.S. giving U.N. $5 mil a day to get insulted."

Brian B. at Movieweb
Brian B.