VIEWERS HEAD FOR 90210

90210 remained the zip code of choice as the return of the series produced some of the CW's best ratings to date Tuesday night. The two-hour debut averaged a 3.9 rating and a 6 share , but the curiosity factor was apparent in the figures for each half hour. The 8:00 p.m. half hour drew a 4.2/7 (4.54 million viewers) and placed third, while the final half hour drew a 3.7/6 (5.06 million viewers) and placed fourth. The numbers were particularly impressive given the fact that the show aired opposite NBC's America's Got Talent, the biggest hit of the summer which averaged a 6.5 rating and a 10 share, and two repeat episodes of Fox's top-rated House, which averaged a 4.5/7.

OUT-OF-HOME VIEWERS NOW COUNT IN TV RATINGS

Nielsen Research has added bars, hotel rooms, offices, and other out-of-home locations to the households that it monitors for its TV ratings. The company announced Tuesday that it had begun delivering the first daily out-of-home numbers to its clients. Surprising no one, the highest rated program during the period from June 30-August 10 was the Olympic Games opening ceremony, which was watched by 1.1 million people in places other than their homes. Among regular programming Fox's House and ESPN's Home Run Derby tied for first place with 570,000 out-of home viewers. In a statement, Nielsen said that the new figures, compiled with assistance from Integrated Media Measurement, would "provide a more complete picture of how people are watching television."

REPORTER AND CREW ARRESTED IN ST. PAUL

Democracy Now! TV and radio show host Amy Goodman and her producers, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, were released in St. Paul, MN late Monday following their arrest Monday on charges of obstructing a police officer and rioting. They had been covering a demonstration by anti-war protesters at the Republican National Convention. Democracy Now!, which says its syndicated programs air on over 700 public TV and radio stations, charged that all three arrested journalists were "violently manhandled" by St. Paul police and that all three suffered injuries of various degrees. An Associated Press photographer was also arrested. The American Civil Liberties Union denounced the arrests, calling them "antithetical to the fundamental values of our democracy." In a statement, ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said, "Free speech has to be safeguarded during the Republican National Convention, as the workings of our democracy in the streets are as important as those in convention halls."

LETTERMAN PREDICTS LENO WILL REMAIN ON TONIGHT

David Letterman, who bolted NBC when he was passed over to succeed Johnny Carson on the Tonight show, has suggested that NBC brass may have had his example in mind when they agreed to hand over hosting duties of the show to Conan O'Brien next year. In an interview appearing in Rolling Stone magazine, Letterman has kind words to say about his rival. "I don't know why, after the job Jay has done for them, why they would relinquish that. ... I guess they thought it was a less messy way to handle what happened to me at NBC," Letterman said. He said that he hopes to have Leno on his own show as a guest "the first night that he is out of a job." Leno is due to make his last appearance on the Tonight show on May 29. However, Letterman expressed doubt that the changeover will actually occur. "It just seemed so preposterous to me." As for whether he himself will continue to host his CBS show after his contract expires in 2010, he said, "The way I feel now, I would like to go beyond 2010, not much beyond, but you know, enough to go beyond. You always like to be able to excuse yourself on your own terms."

CRONKITE PLUGS FOR ONE-HOUR NETWORK NEWSCAST

Walter Cronkite, who presided over television's first half-hour-long newscast when the CBS Evening News expanded from 15 minutes 45 years ago today (Wednesday), would like to see the nightly newscast expanded another half hour. In an interview with the TVNewser website, Cronkite said, "I have been a long-time advocate for hour-long evening newscasts as I feel we could do a much more thorough job of covering this complicated world of ours and delving deeper into the top stories of the day." The expansion has been resisted by local stations, however, who often depend significantly on pre-primetime programming from syndicated fare to boost their revenue. Asked about the trend of news audiences to gravitate to cable, Cronkite said, "I don't think cable news will ever replace the networks' evening newscasts. There's room for both -- and more -- in our changing society and I feel that the dissemination of news by reliable sources in any format serves the public's interests."

FOX NEWS TAKES OVER LEAD FROM CNN IN CONVENTION COVERAGE

One day after the close of the Democratic National Convention, during which CNN drew record ratings, Fox News scored a beat with its revelation that Sen. John McCain had picked the relatively unknown Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running-mate -- thereby drawing some record ratings itself. Indeed, they were twice those of CNN. Fox News, which always pulls its best numbers during the Republican National Convention, is expected to continue to dominate throughout the week, despite the distraction of Hurricane Gustav. Meanwhile a new book about Rupert Murdoch by Michael Wolff claims that Murdoch recently brokered "a tentative truce" between his Fox News Network chief Roger Ailes and Barack Obama, a revelation that was confirmed Tuesday by an Obama campaign spokesman. A result of the truce, perhaps, was the announcement that Obama will be interviewed by Fox commentator Bill O'Reilly on Thursday, the final night of the Republican convention, when Fox News is expected to draw its biggest ratings of the year.

Brian B.