TV-INTERNET CONVERGENCE SPEEDS UP

The number of viewers watching television on their computers (or on computers hooked up to TV sets) is growing at an exponential rate, according to a survey by the nonprofit Conference Board released Tuesday. The survey concluded that nearly one out of four households watches TV online -- up from 20 percent a year ago. "Consumers are moving away from "appointment" TV, preferring to watch programs whenever they choose. Being able to view favorite shows at any time, along with personal convenience, are the two major reasons cited by more than half of consumers for turning to online TV," the report concluded. News programs were watched by 43 percent of online viewers making them the most popular; 35 percent watched scripted entertainment programs; 19 percent, reality shows; and 18 percent, sports telecasts.

THE CW LAUNCHES NEW SEASON -- OFF TO A DISAPPOINTING START

The CW attempted to kick off its new season Tuesday night but fumbled embarrassingly in the end zone. The season premier of 90210 drew just 2.56 million viewers vs. 4.65 million for last year's debut of the sequel series. It performed even more poorly among the key 18-49 demo. 90210 was followed by the series premiere of Melrose Place, which failed to lift the struggling network out of last place. It drew just 2.27 million viewers. Once again the evening was dominated by a two-hour (three, if one includes an 8:00 p.m. repeat) edition of NBC's America's Got Talent, which averaged 11.7 million viewers, peaking in the 9:30 p.m. half hour with 12.15 million.

RTNDA COMPLAINS ABOUT BIG TEN'S NEWS POLICIES

The Radio and Television News Directors Association (RTNDA) has joined five other news organizations to protest new provisions of the Big Ten Athletic Conference that limit their ability to cover and comment upon conference sports. The groups particularly objected to what they regard as an absolute ban on secondary use of content in any format and restrictions on the use of game footage to two minutes on broadcast media. In a separate statement, RTNDA Chairman Stacey Woelfel said, "By creating such restrictive credentials for covering events, the Big Ten conference and its member institutions are creating a situation where the fans and the conference itself will suffer. Unfettered coverage is what builds sports franchises and conference popularity, and RTNDA hopes that the commissioner will take this opportunity to address these concerns and help create a set of credentials that will allow coverage of Big Ten events that will encourage fans to continue to follow the conference."

VETERAN DAILY VARIETY COLUMNIST ARMY ARCHERD DIES

Army Archerd, who wrote Daily Variety's principal gossip column for 52 years and was the red-carpet interviewer at the Oscars for 47 years died Tuesday in Los Angeles at 87. His death was attributed to mesothelioma, a condition that nearly always associated with exposure to asbestos. In its obituary, Variety suggested that Archerd's proudest achievement was drawing attention to AIDS in 1985 by revealing that Rock Hudson had become a victim of the disease. "Though the disease was not new, it was the first time anyone had linked the disease to such a well-known person," Variety observed.

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