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The week that was

The whole program

Just because you're No. 1 doesn't mean you have job security. Just ask Jonathan Wald, the ousted executive producer of NBC's Today
show. He was canned 17 months into his stint at the helm of the ratings-leading morning news show. He and Katie Couric
clashed over the show's direction. Leading candidate to replace him: Tom Touchet, a former senior producer at ABC's Good Morning America. ...

continues to narrow the ratings gap with NBC on Thursday nights, according to the Nielsen fast affiliate ratings report for Oct. 10. In fact, CBS overtook NBC in the circulation battle, winning house-holds and total viewers. And it was a competitive second in the key adult demos, where it has gained ground on NBC since the start of the new season. For the first time this season, CSI
was the most watched program of the night, beating Friends
in total viewers. ...

The WB
got more good ratings news last Wednesday night with its last series premiere of the fall season, Birds of Prey,
a drama about the illegitimate daughter of Batman and Catwoman. The show, which aired at 9 p.m. ET, turned in the second-highest performance in WB history in adults 18-34, with a 5.0 rating/14 share, and men 18-34, with a 5.4/15, according to Nielsen ratings. The WB's Wednesday tied the net's best score in adults 18-49 with a 3.4/9. For the night, the WB was No. 1 in men 18-34 and No. 2 in adults 18-34, persons 12-34, women 18-34 and women 12-34.

In addition, The WB has picked up the last nine episodes of freshman drama Everwood,
starring Treat Williams ,
the first drama this season to be picked up for a full 22-episode run. ...
Weekly syndicated action hour MGM/NBC Media Sales' She Spies,
which got a three-episode preview on NBC
this summer, debuted last week with a 1.9 rating on 278 stations covering 97% of the U.S.

And now the news

The U.S. government is developing plans for an Arabic-language television network that would provide an alternative voice to Al-Jazeera, the Arabic world's only 24-hour news network. There are also plans for a radio station in Iran. …

The Big Three networks' decision not to carry President Bush's speech Monday on Iraq drew quick and sharp criticism from MSNBC's cable editor-in-chief Jerry Nachman .
Only Fox
aired the speech. The other networks said the White House did not formally ask them to cover the Cincinnati address. But Nachman called the possible threat on Iraq "the most important story in the world" and chided networks for showing comedies and reality shows instead.

MSNBC last Friday yanked Ashleigh Banfield's 10 p.m. ET show. She will share anchor duties on MSNBC Investigates
and report.

Strictly business

News Corp. engineered its takeover of the executive ranks of Gemstar-TV Guide International,
ousting Gemstar CEODr. Henry Yuen
and Chief Financial Officer Elsie Leung. News Corp. controls about 42% of Gemstar and has been angling to remove the two execs for some time. News Corp. veteran Jeff Shell,
who has been co-president and COO for five months, takes over as CEO. The company's EVP of Finance Paul Haggerty
succeeds Leung as COO. ...

subsidiary Telemundo
has agreed to buy three stations already affiliated with the Spanish-language network for $53 million. The network has agreed to buy, subject to FCC
approval, KNSO(TV)
Merced, Calif. (Fresno-Visalia market) from Sainte 51Partners II
for $33 million and KDRX-LP
(low power) Phoenix and KHRR(TV)
Tucson from The Apogee Companies
(principally owned by Roy Disney) for about $20,000,000. ...

plans to buy up $3 billion more of its stock, banking that its fortunes and stock price are on the way up. ...

Time Warner Cable
in Los Angeles and Orange County, Calif., is lowering from $41.95 to $39.95 for full basic to encourage customers to try its new video-on-demand and subscription VOD services. ...

Robert G. Lee, president and general manager of WDBJ(TV)
Roanoke, Va., has been elected chairman of the CBS TV
affiliate board. Lee succeeds Ray Deaver, who retired as general manager of Gray Communications' KWTX-TV
Waco, Texas, at the end of last year.


Radio stations are free to launch a competitive alternative to satellite radio, thanks to the FCC's decision last week to approve in-band, on-channel (IBOC)
technology that will make CD-quality sound an option for broadcasters. The technology requires listeners to buy radios equipped with digital receivers. IBOC is approved for round-the-clock use for FM and daytime-only use for AM, where atmospheric problems are still to be solved.